Later On

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

Archive for October 14th, 2019

The “Useful Posts” page has been updated

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Here it is.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Daily life

Humans destroy the environment that is essential for life

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“Drinking water? We don’t need no stinking drinking water!” Apparently that’s the collective sentiment of the corporations that are poisoning the water. Note that although corporations are legally persons, they are not persons who drink water…

Anna M. Phillips and Anthony Pesce report in the LA Times:

Nearly 300 drinking water wells and other water sources in California have traces of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, new state testing has found.

Testing conducted this year of more than 600 wells across the state revealed pockets of contamination, where chemicals widely used for decades in manufacturing and household goods have seeped into the public’s water supply. An analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that within this class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the two most common compounds were detected in 86 water systems that serve up to nine million Californians.

State officials released the water quality results on Monday, the first step in what’s likely to be a years-long effort to track the scale of the contamination and pinpoint its sources. Only a small fraction of California’s thousands of drinking water wells were tested in this initial study. Officials said they planned to examine many more, but have not committed to future statewide testing.

The results offered the clearest picture yet of California’s exposure to a public health crisis that is playing out nationally.

“This has the potential of being an enormously costly issue both on the health side as well as on the mitigation and regulatory side,” said Kurt Schwabe, an environmental policy professor at UC Riverside. “It’s going to be one of the defining issues in California, environmentally, for decades.”

About half of the wells sampled did not have the chemicals at detectable levels — a result that state officials said was a hopeful sign the contaminants may not have spread as widely as they have in other states. Yet testing found contaminated drinking water in communities across California, from densely-populated cities with large and complex water systems to mobile home parks that depend on a single private well.

Clusters of contaminated wells were found in Southern California, in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In some cases, the results had an immediate effect — the city of Anaheim has shut down three of its drinking water wells so far this year in response to elevated levels of the chemicals.

Exposure to the chemicals, commonly known as PFAS, has been traced to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as high cholesterol and thyroid disease. Mothers and young children are thought to be the most vulnerable to the chemicals, which can affect reproductive and developmental health.

Scientists have called them “forever chemicals” because they persist indefinitely and accumulate in the human body.

The chemicals were developed in the 1940s and used in countless household products, from Teflon cookware and Scotchgard to waterproof clothing and food packaging. They were also a key ingredient in firefighting foam used on military bases and, as a result, have become a major source of groundwater pollution.

A Times analysis found that California has 21 contaminated bases, more than any other state, including six where the chemicals have leached into off-base drinking water supplies.

There is no agreed-upon safe level of PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency has classified the chemicals as an “emerging contaminant” and has delayed setting a national standard for limiting the levels in drinking water. In 2016, the agency issued a nonbinding health advisory for two of the most common types, PFOS and PFOA, recommending that water utilities notify the public if levels of the chemicals reached a combined 70 parts per trillion. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 3:36 pm

A lifesaving event becomes a life-changing event

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Sam Whiting reports in the San Francisco Chronicle:

It wasn’t the two hours that San Francisco firefighter Gerry Shannon spent working a chain saw under a collapsed Marina district building that got to him. It was the five minutes he spent lying there while a colleague replaced his blade.

Shannon was on his back in the claustrophobic crawl space, no more than 2 feet high. He could see the glow of approaching fire. He pictured the fire chief ringing the doorbell of his home to inform his wife, Deidre, that her husband had died while trying to rescue a woman trapped in her apartment after the Loma Prieta earthquake. He pictured Deidre giving the news to their three kids.

“Those five minutes changed my thinking,” Shannon, 74, says now in a voice becalmed by his daily 40 minutes of meditation. “They talk about time standing still. It did.”

It is a common story among people who have faced a life-threatening situation — the promise that if they survive, they will mend their ways and stop wasting time or taking life and family for granted. These vows are often forgotten as soon as the danger is lifted, and Shannon was tempted to go back to his life in the Irish bars of the Sunset District, where he grew up.

He was now a hero with a rescue story that had spread nationwide. He had earned the San Francisco Fire Department’s highest medal for valor. Drinks would be on the house for a long time.

But he never went back on the vow to pursue enlightenment that he made under that building the evening of Oct. 17, 1989. He has spent 30 years on a spiritual quest that has taken the fourth-generation city boy out of his element and out of the country.

“It was a life-changing day,” he says, “and I survived it.”

When the TV news helicopters showed flames shooting up from fires all over the Marina after the quake, Shannon’s son Casey, 9, asked his mother, “Do you think dad’s there?” She replied, “Yes,” then added, “but he won’t take any chances.”

At that moment, Shannon was taking more chances than he ever had. A four-story apartment building at Beach and Divisadero streets had collapsed, its upper stories fallen forward onto the street and its lower floors pancaked to the ground.

Sherra Cox, 56, an office manager, had come home from work early to watch the Giants and A’s in the World Series. Her building was two blocks from the bay and built on landfill. When the 6.9 earthquake hit at 5:04 p.m., the structure lurched forward off of its foundation and onto the street.

The apartment house next to hers erupted in flames that threatened to spread. The smell of gas was everywhere, and Cox was now trapped beneath heavy beams in the wreckage of her second-floor corner unit.

She managed to work one arm free, grabbed a loose pipe and banged it on the metal post of her bed. A paramedic heard it and alerted the nearest firefighter at hand, who happened to be Shannon, a 20-year veteran who had been detailed to the scene from his station on Jerrold Avenue near Candlestick Park.

When a building collapsed on Cervantes Boulevard in the Marina, Shannon’s crew of five had been ordered all the way to Divisadero Street. He thought they were sent just as backup. When he got to the top of the hill looking north, the Marina “looked like a bomb had gone off,” he says.

The building was compressed against the ground, so the only way to reach Cox was to go underneath and cut a path through the floor joists. Shannon got a chain saw from the engine and went to work in the crawl space, so tight he had to take his helmet off to fit. It was slow going. It took him 2½ hours and two saw blades to go 35 feet.

But he got to Cox, who had broken her hips and pelvis. By then water was coming into the building from hoses dousing the fire next door. Shannon took off his heavy coat and put it over Cox. She grabbed his hand to make sure he wouldn’t leave her, but he had to go get a new saw blade.

“I said, ‘I’ll be back, I promise you,’” he recalls. “I don’t think she believed me.” But she finally let go of his hand, and he did come back, 10 minutes later, with a fresh blade to free her from the beam pinning her to the floor.

He crawled back out again, far enough to call for a stretcher board, which paramedic Rich Allen pushed through. He checked Cox’s vitals before they put her on the board and pushed her back out the way he had come. The crowd cheered as she was loaded into an ambulance, but she would not let it pull away until she got the last name of the firefighter who rescued her.

“The efforts he went to to save a complete stranger,” Cox later told The Chronicle. “He is the story, I just happen to be the end of it.”

Shannon never wanted to be the story. He was embarrassed by the attention, even when he was among a dozen heroes to throw out the ceremonial first pitch when the World Series resumed at Candlestick.

“I was just a mediocre fireman who was in the wrong place at the right time,” he says. “You wait your whole career for something like that, and then when it shows up, you don’t know how you are going to handle it.”

The first sign that he had changed came when he arrived at San Francisco General Hospital the next day with flowers for Cox.

“Usually, you don’t even call, because if they died it ruins the whole effect,” he says. “But with her it was different.” He kept coming back. When Christmas came around he brought his wife and kids and a tree to brighten Cox’s hospital room.

The bond they’d formed over those two hours in her collapsed apartment building was stronger than Shannon anticipated. Cox persuaded him to do something he hadn’t done since he was a freshman at Riordan High School — read a book. He’d been kicked out of Riordan for fighting, then out of Lincoln High School for the same reason. He’d had to finish at a continuation school.

During Shannon’s hospital visits, Cox started talking about Eastern religion and philosophy and lending him books. He eventually moved on to the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. He and Cox would pass books on Buddhism back and forth.

After she was released to start five months of rehab, he visited and encouraged her to walk. She held his arm with one hand and her walker with the other. When Shannon learned that she didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, he invited her to spend it with his family.

Cox was a pianist who had played rehearsals for the San Francisco Symphony and Opera. Six months after her release, she and Shannon attended the Opera together. When her health later failed and she was using a wheelchair, Shannon would take her to lunch at Westlake Joe’s. She’d have a martini. By then Shannon wasn’t drinking at all.

“It didn’t work anymore for me,” he says. “It wasn’t part of my lifestyle.”

He’d quit his side job as a bouncer and bartender and stopped playing softball, with its long hours of postgame drinking. His wife, Deidre, had been after him to move from their flat in the Sunset to Marin County, so they did, first to San Rafael then to Novato.

The 2½ hours he spent under that building in the Marina and the months he spent with Cox afterward had altered his outlook.

“I just wanted to do more with my life besides sitting at a bar watching the Miller Hi-Life sign blink on and off,” he says. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Calories and money are alike in at least one way

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Just as calories give zero guidance as to the quality of the food (100 calories of refined sugar and 100 calories of lentils are identical insofar as calories are concerned), so also money gives zero guidance as to whether the source of the money is ethical, moral, or even legal. In the LA Times Melody Petersen describes one way of getting money that seems dubious to me:

When 69-year-old Marietta Jinde died in September 2016, police had already been called to her home several times because of reports of possible abuse. A detective described conditions at the woman’s home in Gardena as “horrendous.”

She was so emaciated and frail that the hospital asked Los Angeles County adult protective services officials to look into her death.

Yet by the time a coroner’s investigator was able to examine Jinde’s 70-pound body, the bones from her legs and arms were gone. Also missing were large patches of skin from her back. With permission from county officials and saying they did not know of the abuse allegations, employees from OneLegacy, a Southern California human tissue procurement company, had gained access to the body, taking parts that could have provided crucial evidence.

Coroner officials said police did not inform them of the possible abuse complaints until 10 days after Jinde died. They said they were able to complete their investigation by using the autopsy exam, hospital records and photos, and determined that she died of natural causes, including severe heart disease.

After reviewing the autopsy report, Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist who has consulted on many prominent death investigations, questioned the coroner’s ability to make that determination when the bones and skin had already been removed.

“We can’t be sure the bones weren’t fractured,” Wecht said. “This could have been a manslaughter case.”

The case is one of dozens of death investigations across the country, including more than two dozen in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, that The Times found were complicated or upended when transplantable body parts were taken before a coroner’s autopsy was performed.

In multiple cases, coroners have had to guess at the cause of death. Wrongful-death and medical malpractice lawsuits have been thwarted by early tissue harvesting. A death after a fight with police remains unsettled. The procurement process caused changes to bodies that medical examiners mistook as injuries or abuse. In at least one case, a murder charge was dropped.

Organ procurement before an investigation has long been legal, provided the coroner agreed. The motivation was to increase the number of hearts, kidneys and other vital organs needed to extend the lives of Americans waiting for transplants. To raise those numbers, California and other states over the last decade passed laws requiring coroners and medical examiners to “cooperate” with the companies to “maximize” the number of organs and tissues taken for transplant. Procurement companies’ lobbyists helped to write the legislation and push it into law.

In a handful of states the laws go even further, giving the companies the power to force coroners to delay autopsies until they have harvested the body parts.

Although the companies have emphasized organ transplants, in far more cases nationwide they harvested skin, bone, fat, ligaments and other tissues that are generally not used for life-threatening conditions. Those body parts fuel a booming industrial biotech market in which a half-teaspoon of ground-up human skin is priced at $434. That product is one of those used in cosmetic surgery to plump lips and posteriors, fill cellulite dimples and enhance penises. A single body can supply raw materials for products that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In lobbying for the laws, the companies pointed to papers published in professional journals stating categorically that there has never been a single documented instance of body-part procurement interfering with a death investigation.

But the papers’ authors included procurement company executives and others with undisclosed ties to the industry. And the source of the claim was a short article in a 1994 American Bar Assn. newsletter, which did not even discuss the donation of bone and other tissues.

The expanded reach of the procurement industry has troubled some death investigators.

Melissa Baker, a former investigator in the medical examiner’s office in Pierce County, Wash., filed a whistleblower complaint in 2015 after three procurement companies moved into that county’s morgue to access cadavers.

“One of my biggest concerns … was the mere fact that someone could potentially get away with murder because evidence has been bungled, lost or not collected,” she said.

An independent review of Baker’s complaint found evidence was lost in a homicide case when the procurement team washed the victim’s hands.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 1:00 pm

1491 CE

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Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

That’s the blurb for an Atlantic article from March 2002 by Charles C. Mann, which begins:

The plane took off in weather that was surprisingly cool for north-central Bolivia and flew east, toward the Brazilian border. In a few minutes the roads and houses disappeared, and the only evidence of human settlement was the cattle scattered over the savannah like jimmies on ice cream. Then they, too, disappeared. By that time the archaeologists had their cameras out and were clicking away in delight.

Below us was the Beni, a Bolivian province about the size of Illinois and Indiana put together, and nearly as flat. For almost half the year rain and snowmelt from the mountains to the south and west cover the land with an irregular, slowly moving skin of water that eventually ends up in the province’s northern rivers, which are sub-subtributaries of the Amazon. The rest of the year the water dries up and the bright-green vastness turns into something that resembles a desert. This peculiar, remote, watery plain was what had drawn the researchers’ attention, and not just because it was one of the few places on earth inhabited by people who might never have seen Westerners with cameras.

Clark Erickson and William Balée, the archaeologists, sat up front. Erickson is based at the University of Pennsylvania; he works in concert with a Bolivian archaeologist, whose seat in the plane I usurped that day. Balée is at Tulane University, in New Orleans. He is actually an anthropologist, but as native peoples have vanished, the distinction between anthropologists and archaeologists has blurred. The two men differ in build, temperament, and scholarly proclivity, but they pressed their faces to the windows with identical enthusiasm.

Dappled across the grasslands below was an archipelago of forest islands, many of them startlingly round and hundreds of acres across. Each island rose ten or thirty or sixty feet above the floodplain, allowing trees to grow that would otherwise never survive the water. The forests were linked by raised berms, as straight as a rifle shot and up to three miles long. It is Erickson’s belief that this entire landscape—30,000 square miles of forest mounds surrounded by raised fields and linked by causeways—was constructed by a complex, populous society more than 2,000 years ago. Balée, newer to the Beni, leaned toward this view but was not yet ready to commit himself.

Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Given the charged relations between white societies and native peoples, inquiry into Indian culture and history is inevitably contentious. But the recent scholarship is especially controversial. To begin with, some researchers—many but not all from an older generation—deride the new theories as fantasies arising from an almost willful misinterpretation of data and a perverse kind of political correctness. “I have seen no evidence that large numbers of people ever lived in the Beni,” says Betty J. Meggers, of the Smithsonian Institution. “Claiming otherwise is just wishful thinking.” Similar criticisms apply to many of the new scholarly claims about Indians, according to Dean R. Snow, an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University. The problem is that “you can make the meager evidence from the ethnohistorical record tell you anything you want,” he says. “It’s really easy to kid yourself.”

More important are the implications of the new theories for today’s ecological battles. Much of the environmental movement is animated, consciously or not, by what William Denevan, a geographer at the University of Wisconsin, calls, polemically, “the pristine myth”—the belief that the Americas in 1491 were an almost unmarked, even Edenic land, “untrammeled by man,” in the words of the Wilderness Act of 1964, one of the nation’s first and most important environmental laws. As the University of Wisconsin historian William Cronon has written, restoring this long-ago, putatively natural state is, in the view of environmentalists, a task that society is morally bound to undertake. Yet if the new view is correct and the work of humankind was pervasive, where does that leave efforts to restore nature?

The Beni is a case in point. In addition to building up the Beni mounds for houses and gardens, Erickson says, the Indians trapped fish in the seasonally flooded grassland. Indeed, he says, they fashioned dense zigzagging networks of earthen fish weirs between the causeways. To keep the habitat clear of unwanted trees and undergrowth, they regularly set huge areas on fire. Over the centuries the burning created an intricate ecosystem of fire-adapted plant species dependent on native pyrophilia. The current inhabitants of the Beni still burn, although now it is to maintain the savannah for cattle. When we flew over the area, the dry season had just begun, but mile-long lines of flame were already on the march. In the charred areas behind the fires were the blackened spikes of trees—many of them, one assumes, of the varieties that activists fight to save in other parts of Amazonia.

After we landed, I asked Balée, Should we let people keep burning the Beni? Or should we let the trees invade and create a verdant tropical forest in the grasslands, even if one had not existed here for millennia?

Balée laughed. “You’re trying to trap me, aren’t you?” he said.

Like a Club Between the Eyes

According to family lore, my great-grandmother’s great-grandmother’s great-grandfather was the first white person hanged in America. His name was John Billington. He came on the Mayflower, which anchored off the coast of Massachusetts on November 9, 1620. Billington was not a Puritan; within six months of arrival he also became the first white person in America to be tried for complaining about the police. “He is a knave,” William Bradford, the colony’s governor, wrote of Billington, “and so will live and die.” What one historian called Billington’s “troublesome career” ended in 1630, when he was hanged for murder. My family has always said that he was framed—but we would say that, wouldn’t we?

A few years ago it occurred to me that my ancestor and everyone else in the colony had voluntarily enlisted in a venture that brought them to New England without food or shelter six weeks before winter. Half the 102 people on the Mayflower made it through to spring, which to me was amazing. How, I wondered, did they survive?

In his history of Plymouth Colony, Bradford provided the answer: by robbing Indian houses and graves. The Mayflower first hove to at Cape Cod. An armed company staggered out. Eventually it found a recently deserted Indian settlement. The newcomers—hungry, cold, sick—dug up graves and ransacked houses, looking for underground stashes of corn. “And sure it was God’s good providence that we found this corn,” Bradford wrote, “for else we know not how we should have done.” (He felt uneasy about the thievery, though.) When the colonists came to Plymouth, a month later, they set up shop in another deserted Indian village. All through the coastal forest the Indians had “died on heapes, as they lay in their houses,” the English trader Thomas Morton noted. “And the bones and skulls upon the severall places of their habitations made such a spectacle” that to Morton the Massachusetts woods seemed to be “a new found Golgotha”—the hill of executions in Roman Jerusalem.

To the Pilgrims’ astonishment, one of the corpses they exhumed on Cape Cod had blond hair. A French ship had been wrecked there several years earlier. The Patuxet Indians imprisoned a few survivors. One of them supposedly learned enough of the local language to inform his captors that God would destroy them for their misdeeds. The Patuxet scoffed at the threat. But the Europeans carried a disease, and they bequeathed it to their jailers. The epidemic (probably of viral hepatitis, according to a study by Arthur E. Spiess, an archaeologist at the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, and Bruce D. Spiess, the director of clinical research at the Medical College of Virginia) took years to exhaust itself and may have killed 90 percent of the people in coastal New England. It made a huge difference to American history. “The good hand of God favored our beginnings,” Bradford mused, by “sweeping away great multitudes of the natives … that he might make room for us.”

By the time my ancestor set sail on the Mayflower, Europeans had been visiting New England for more than a hundred years. English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese mariners regularly plied the coastline, trading what they could, occasionally kidnapping the inhabitants for slaves. New England, the Europeans saw, was thickly settled and well defended. In 1605 and 1606 Samuel de Champlain visited Cape Cod, hoping to establish a French base. He abandoned the idea. Too many people already lived there. A year later Sir Ferdinando Gorges—British despite his name—tried to establish an English community in southern Maine. It had more founders than Plymouth and seems to have been better organized. Confronted by numerous well-armed local Indians, the settlers abandoned the project within months. The Indians at Plymouth would surely have been an equal obstacle to my ancestor and his ramshackle expedition had disease not intervened.

Faced with such stories, historians have long wondered how many people lived in the Americas at the time of contact. “Debated since Columbus attempted a partial census on Hispaniola in 1496,” William Denevan has written, this “remains one of the great inquiries of history.” (In 1976 Denevan assembled and edited an entire book on the subject, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492.) The first scholarly estimate of the indigenous population was made in 1910 by James Mooney, a distinguished ethnographer at the Smithsonian Institution. Combing through old documents, he concluded that in 1491 North America had 1.15 million inhabitants. Mooney’s glittering reputation ensured that most subsequent researchers accepted his figure uncritically.

That changed in 1966, when Henry F. Dobyns published “Estimating Aboriginal American Population: An Appraisal of Techniques With a New Hemispheric Estimate,” in the journal Current Anthropology. Despite the carefully neutral title, his argument was thunderous, its impact long-lasting. In the view of James Wilson, the author of The Earth Shall Weep (1998), a history of indigenous Americans, Dobyns’s colleagues “are still struggling to get out of the crater that paper left in anthropology.” Not only anthropologists were affected. Dobyns’s estimate proved to be one of the opening rounds in today’s culture wars.

Dobyns began his exploration of pre-Columbian Indian demography in the early 1950s, when he was a graduate student. At the invitation of a friend, he spent a few months in northern Mexico, which is full of Spanish-era missions. There he poked through the crumbling leather-bound ledgers in which Jesuits recorded local births and deaths. Right away he noticed how many more deaths there were. The Spaniards arrived, and then Indians died—in huge numbers, at incredible rates. It hit him, Dobyns told me recently, “like a club right between the eyes.”

It took Dobyns eleven years to obtain his Ph.D. Along the way he joined a rural-development project in Peru, which until colonial times was the seat of the Incan empire. Remembering what he had seen at the northern fringe of the Spanish conquest, Dobyns decided to compare it with figures for the south. He burrowed into the papers of the Lima cathedral and read apologetic Spanish histories. The Indians in Peru, Dobyns concluded, had faced plagues from the day the conquistadors showed up—in fact, before then: smallpox arrived around 1525, seven years ahead of the Spanish. Brought to Mexico apparently by a single sick Spaniard, it swept south and eliminated more than half the population of the Incan empire. Smallpox claimed the Incan dictator Huayna Capac and much of his family, setting off a calamitous war of succession. So complete was the chaos that Francisco Pizarro was able to seize an empire the size of Spain and Italy combined with a force of 168 men.

Smallpox was only the first epidemic. Typhus (probably) in 1546, influenza and smallpox together in 1558, smallpox again in 1589, diphtheria in 1614, measles in 1618—all ravaged the remains of Incan culture. Dobyns was the first social scientist to piece together this awful picture, and he naturally rushed his findings into print. Hardly anyone paid attention. But Dobyns was already working on a second, related question: If all those people died, how many had been living there to begin with? Before Columbus, Dobyns calculated, the Western Hemisphere held  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 9:39 am

Sugar and Weight Gain

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Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 8:47 am

Posted in Health, Medical, Science

The complex unseen network that underlies modern society

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Yesterday I posted an article that describes the intricacies of bringing a new and better wheat to commercial production: The article described the various stakeholders who had to learn about it and buy into it: the agronomist researcher, the farmers, the grain mills, and the bakers.

It’s easy to see how the Dunning-Kruger effect is common: modern society is so complex that, other than few areas we know, there are vast regions of knowledge and practice of which we are totally ignorant.

Here’s another piece on breads and flours from the blog Fraine. Consider this passage:

All agricultural machinery used by the farmers who work with Les Moulins is equipped with a chip that constantly analyzes data during sowing, hoeing, fertilizing, and harvesting. That chip makes it possible to determine the quality of the protein in each part of each field so that overfertilizing is never an issue. Every element is measured and controlled at every stage. The origin of each grain delivery can be pinpointed not only to the individual farm but almost to the individual furrow. Blends are made on the basis of the percentage of gluten (which is not necessarily the same as the percentage of protein) and the aptitude of the flour to produce the desired dough characteristics. What’s more, by managing changes in wheat characteristics, it is now possible to develop a wide range of aromas from floral to coffee. The baker can choose the ones that will become his or signature once he/she applies to the flour his or her knowledge of the fermentation process by varying acidity and temperatures levels. He/she can pick different blends for different breads.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 8:39 am

Badger vs. Synthetic for shave sticks, with the Rockwell 6S R3

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My Rooney Finest is an excellent shaving brush but it not do so well with this shave stick as do the Plissoft/angel-hair synthetics, in part (I think) because the synthetics absorb no moisture. I rubbed the Razor Emporium against the grain all over my (washed, wet) stubble, and I did note that it perhaps was not depositing so much soap because the paper was too high.

When I tried to bring up the lather, the brush eked out only a film of lather on my face, with no noticeable lather in the brush itself. I tore off more of the paper, and went at the stubble again, making sure that plenty of soap was scraped off, and I rewet the brush. This second effort did indeed produce a good lather, and the brush was filled for the later passes, but it was more of a struggle than with the synthetics I’ve been using. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll try badger again, with a different shave stick, and see how it compares. Another of this set of Rooneys, I think.

Well-lathered, the shave itself was man’s play: three passes with the Rockwell 6S using the R3 baseplate, using the brush’s reserve to lather prior to the second and third passes, left my face effortlessly smooth, and a splash of Annick Goutal’s Eau du Sud finished the job and start the holiday morning very nicely.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2019 at 8:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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