Later On

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Archive for November 5th, 2019

Prison nation: A Jail Increased Extreme Isolation to Stop Suicides. More People Killed Themselves.

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Jason PohlThe Sacramento Bee, and Ryan Gabrielson, ProPublica, report:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Shackled at the wrists and ankles, Christine Taylor followed a red line on the basement floor directing her to the elevator at Kern County’s central jail. She heard groans and cries from among the hundred people locked above, a wail echoing through the shaft.

It was minutes before daybreak on a Monday morning in May 2017 as the elevator lifted her toward the voices. Jail staff had assigned Taylor to something called “suicide watch,” a block of single cells where she’d be alone 24 hours a day. The sound of other people would soon become a luxury.

What a stupid mistake, Taylor fumed.

Earlier, she had argued with jail staff during her booking at the downtown jail. Have you ever attempted suicide, a deputy asked. Taylor glared back, her hands trembling. She had never been in serious trouble with law enforcement, and she considered her arrest that night a gross misunderstanding.

“Do you think I’m going to try to kill myself with my shirt?” Taylor responded, flippantly. “Maybe.”

Her answer got her a glimpse of how the jail handles people it perceives as suicide risks.

Within minutes, deputies moved Taylor into a changing room on the third floor and had her strip naked. They handed her just two items: paper-thin clothes that come apart under pressure and a blue yoga mat.

Exhausted and scared, she followed orders, walked down a hall and stepped into a bathroom-sized isolation cell. The door slammed behind her. The floors felt colder inside, and a mold smell came up from the toilet-sink fixture. A bed was mounted to the brick wall. Hazy fluorescent lights reflected off the ash-white paint. And, as Taylor soon learned, jail staff never turned them off.

To shield herself, she crawled under the bed and put the yoga mat over her torso like a blanket.

She pressed her eyelids shut but couldn’t block the glare or the rush of tears.

“Cruel and Unusual” Punishment; No Limits

Each year, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office sends hundreds of people into this kind of suicide watch isolation. Inmates awaiting trial spend weeks and sometimes months in solitary, according to state and county records. When those cells fill up, deputies place people into “overflow” areas, rooms with nothing more than four rubberized walls and a grate in the floor for bodily fluids. They receive no mental health treatment, only a yoga mat to rest on.

Kern County sheriff’s officials say they turned to isolation rooms to help prevent deaths after a spate of jail suicides that started in 2011.

This wasn’t what state lawmakers envisioned when they undertook a sweeping criminal justice overhaul nearly a decade ago to alleviate what the U.S. Supreme Court deemed the “cruel and unusual” conditions for people in overcrowded state prisons. Those prisoners, the court found, would languish for months, even years, in “telephone-booth-sized cages” without treatment, resulting in “needless suffering and death.”

California’s reforms, dubbed “realignment,” diverted thousands of offenders to county jails so, among other things, the corrections system could see to basic health needs and meet minimum constitutional requirements. That shift also transferred billions of dollars to local sheriffs to better run jails.

Some, like Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, have rejected warnings from the state to improve the outdated and often brutal forms of isolation that helped trigger the state’s prison crisis.

The state can’t do much about it, a McClatchy and ProPublica investigation found. The California Board of State and Community Corrections, which is supposed to maintain minimum jail standards and inspect local facilities, has no legal authority to force local lockups to meet those standards or ensure inmates are physically safe and mentally sound.

Last year, for instance, a state board inspector called out the Kern County Sheriff’s Office for 27 violations, a majority of them for using yoga mats instead of mattresses in suicide watch cells. But his letter read more like an invitation than a warning. “If you choose to address the noncompliant issues,” he wrote, “please provide your corrective plan to the BSCC for documentation in your inspection file.”

The sheriff’s office disregarded the findings and bought more than 100 additional mats this year, agency records show.

“It’s completely unethical, and counter to clinical evidence for what people need,” Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer of New York City jails, said of Kern County’s suicide watch. “For any human, that represents punishment and humiliation.”

Isolation practices save lives, Kern County officials argue. But records show the strategy didn’t work; inmates continued to kill themselves.

In one case, an inmate hanged himself in a suicide watch cell, after grabbing an extension cord that guards left within reach. Since 2011, 11 others have taken their lives in other parts of the jail. During the past four years, Kern County had the highest suicide rate of the state’s 10 largest jail systems, with 5.61 deaths per 100,000 bookings, close to twice the statewide rate, an analysis by ProPublica and McClatchy found. Overall, inmate suicides declined slightly in California county jails over that period.

The state’s board has no authority to investigate deaths in local lockups. The agency answers to the Legislature, which has not held a single hearing about jail inspections or the dozens of gruesome deaths in facilities across the state in the past eight years.

Texas and New Jersey, meanwhile, have boards that regularly examine such deaths. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2019 at 9:01 pm

Richard Spencer’s Contract With America

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Zak Cheney-Rice writes in New York:

White nationalism has a branding problem. The election of Donald Trump proved there’s an appetite for its basic principles — namely, that an ideal America is an America ruled politically, culturally, and demographically by white people, catering to their desires and ideas about belonging and maintained through the demonization, flagellation, and expulsion of their chosen enemies. But nobody wants to be called a racist. So while the prospect of an ethnostate has its charms for many Americans, being associated with unsavory types like Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen remains a deal breaker for some. The movement’s activists know this. Leaders like David Duke vehemently reject the impulse to cast those “[defending] the heritage of European-American people” as “racist.” Others, like Identity Evropa organizer Daniel Morley, have dedicated their lives to helping others game the debate. “A good strategy would be to steer the definition of ‘racism’ toward ‘racial hatred,’” Morley reportedly told one member last year. “We don’t hate other races, so we’re not racists. After all, the word isn’t going away. May as well control it.”

These people thrive in the gaps between Americans’ fear of being called racist, their attraction to racist ideas, and their inability to recognize racism that doesn’t advertise itself as such. Representative Steve King espoused white nationalism from the House floor for 16 years before earning a rebuke from his Republican colleagues, which came only after he asked a New York Times interviewer how terms like white supremacist had become offensive. Meanwhile, he has managed to win nine Congressional elections. Recognition that people like King are not outliers — that racism is most palatable in a suit and tie — has inspired a spate of news features about similarly groomed bigots at outlets including Mother Jones, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. The subject of several has been Richard Spencer, whose profile rose alongside Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016. The so-called dapper face of contemporary white nationalism, Spencer runs a white-supremacist think tank and was a featured speaker at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Over the weekend, Milo Yiannopoulos, the disgraced former Breitbart editor and a social rival of Spencer’s, published audio that he claimed had been leaked from a meeting Spencer attended after the Charlottesville rally. Spencer was purportedly angry about the negative press generated by the killing of Heather Heyer — whom white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. intentionally hit with his car during the march — and how it might disfavor his political movement. Here’s an excerpt:

I am so mad. I am so fucking mad at these people. They don’t do this to fucking me. We’re going to fucking ritualistically humiliate them. I am coming back here every fucking weekend if I have to. Like this is never over. I win. They fucking lose. That’s how the world fucking works. Little fucking kikes. They get ruled by people like me. Little fucking octoroons. My ancestors fucking enslaved those little pieces of fucking shit. I rule the fucking world. Those pieces of shit get ruled by people like me. They look up and see a face like mine looking down at them. That’s how the fucking world works. We are going to destroy this fucking town.

If the man on the recording is indeed Spencer, the veneer he has cultivated as a palatable alternative to people in white robes burning crosses in the woods is all but shattered. His references to “kikes” (a slur for Jews), “octoroons” (an anachronism for a person with one-eighth black ancestry), and the enslaving of their forebears are the most flagrant expressions yet of the animus he has long tried to hide beneath sartorial verve. The recording remains unverified by news outlets, and the possibility that Yiannopoulos, a notorious troll, fabricated it for attention is not out of the question. But nor does its ideological veracity require it to be authentic: None of what Spencer stands for is mysterious, and the frequency with which his public appearances are protested — and even greeted with punches to the face — suggests that plenty of others aren’t fooled either.

But the recording occasions a larger point, which is that what’s normal is no longer scandalous. And the president of the United States has already been such an effective mouthpiece for Spencer’s ideals, and for so long, that the activist greeted his election with chants of “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” before a crowd of followers performing Nazi salutes. The hordes of white supremacists among whom Spencer allegedly noted a branding problem in Charlottesville contained “very fine people,” according to Trump — perhaps the most fortuitous public-relations boost he could’ve asked for at the time. Meanwhile, Trump’s casting of black people as “shithole”-dwellers, Latino immigrants as criminals, and Muslims as terrorists to rationalize preventing their immigration to the U.S. is as enthusiastic a meld of bigotry and policy as Spencer could’ve dreamed up. Trump’s campaign to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census in order to expand the political influence of white people at the expense of Latinos advances a broader GOP effort to erode black and brown electoral power and, by extension, reduce our say in government.

None of these efforts require the “white nationalist” label to implement a white-nationalist agenda. Nor do their respectable trappings negate their violent implications. But Americans have long proved that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2019 at 6:27 pm

How to be an Epicurean

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The preface to the sixth edition of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving (the preface is included also in the current (seventh) edition) begins:

I REALIZED recently that this book might have been more accurately titled The Epicure’s Guide to Shaving, for Epicurus[i] would surely approve making necessary tasks enjoyable. He thought that chance encounters of atoms falling through the void, randomly interacting, produced—after much time—us and the world in which we live. In his view we cease to exist when we die, while the atoms of our body continue to tumble along through time and space.

Because Epicurus believed that life is a one-shot deal, he made enjoying life a high priority. A dissolute lifestyle tends to have highly unpleasant consequences, so it makes sense to seek enjoyment first in the small things of life, which is what we mostly encounter day to day. Learning new ideas and mastering new skills are examples of activities that provide enjoyment without harm.

Take, as a random example, the morning shave: an Epicurean who shaves will seek a way to derive enjoyment from the task: to spend his (limited) time doing things he doesn’t enjoy makes no sense when he could instead do them enjoyably. Moreover, an enjoyable task requires little willpower: you are drawn to the task rather than having to push yourself. Indeed, a task can even be restorative and energizing; rather than draining you, a task approached properly can provide both enjoyment and a satisfying sense of fulfillment.

The psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi wrote several books on a mental state he termed “flow”: a focused, absorbing, satisfying involvement in what is happening in the moment[ii]. So another way to state the Epicurean position is that one should arrange his or her life to maximize the opportunities for flow to occur. Flow is a mental experience, so introspection combined with an attitude that encourages the enjoyment of small things—to look for joy, and to think about how to find more occasions of joy—is an obvious step.

This book is my contribution to an Epicurean lifestyle: the book offers a way to make a necessary chore enjoyable. But don’t stop just at shaving.

[i] Epicurus: See https://tinyurl.com/7kafxfj and (of course) the Wikipedia entry.

[ii] Mihály Csíkszentmihályi: See https://tinyurl.com/a5f4s. Each person can find activities appropriate for him or her that will promote flow: rock climbing, painting or drawing, gardening, cooking, playing a musical instrument, and the like. Csíkszentmihályi defined the term in his studies and in the fascinating book that emerged from them, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (https://tinyurl.com/ywzrea for inexpensive copies).

Catherine Wilson, most recently Anniversary Professor of Philosophy at the University of York and now Visiting Presidential Professor at CUNY Graduate Center in New York, whose latest book is How to Be an Epicurean (2019), published simultaneously in the UK under the title The Pleasure Principle, writes in Aeon:

Like many people, I am skeptical of any book, lecture or article offering to divulge the secrets of happiness. To me, happiness is episodic. It’s there at a moment of insight over drinks with a friend, when hearing a new and affecting piece of music on the radio, sharing confidences with a relative or waking up from a good night’s sleep after a bout of the flu. Happiness is a feeling of in-the-moment joy that can’t be chased and caught and which can’t last very long.

But satisfaction with how things are going is different than happiness. Satisfaction has to do with the qualities and arrangements of life that make us want to get out of bed in the morning, find out what’s happening in the world, and get on with whatever the day brings. There are obstacles to satisfaction, and they can be, if not entirely removed, at least lowered. Some writers argue that satisfaction mostly depends on my genes, where I live and the season of the year, or how other people, including the government, are treating me. Nevertheless, psychology and the sharing of first-person experience acquired over many generations, can actually help.

So can philosophy. The major schools of philosophy in antiquity – Platonism, Stoicism, Aristotelianism and, my favourite, Epicureanism, addressed the question of the good life directly. The philosophers all subscribed to an ideal of ‘life according to nature’, by which they meant both human and nonhuman nature, while disagreeing among themselves about what that entailed. Their original writings, most of them widely accessible, readable and thought-provoking, remain a resource, not just for philosophy students and specialists, but for everyone interested in the topics of nature, society and wellbeing.

What was a ‘school’ of philosophy for the ancient Greeks and Romans? Essentially, it was a group that shared common beliefs and values. Its members would meet regularly to listen to lectures by the leader, to discuss the philosophical issues among themselves and with occasional visitors, and to work out how to defend their views against the objections of their competitors’ schools. Accounts of the lectures and discussions might make their way into written texts, crafted by the leader or his students. Philosophy was not, however, a form of public education. Between 40 and 80 per cent of the population of Athens in the first few centuries BCE were male and female slaves. Some of them might serve and entertain at philosophical functions but did not participate.

Plato, who collected the thoughts and discussions of his 5th-century BCE teacher Socrates, emphasised the cultivation of the four virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation and justice. Plato considered these virtues, and other ‘forms’ such as truth and beauty, more real than anything composed of matter. Virtue, he thought, was the route and the only route to eudaimonia, usually translated as ‘welfare’ or ‘flourishing’. Dishonesty, cowardice, gluttonous, lustful, intemperate behaviour and mistreatment of others could produce only a disordered and unhappy personality.

The audiences that Socrates and Plato meant to address consisted most typically of ambitious and spoiled young men from top Athenian families who needed to be set straight. Was Plato’s theory of human flourishing through virtue meant to apply to women? Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics led all-male academies. The women of the time were largely confined to the household, at least the respectable ones. Their domestic occupations would not have given them opportunity to display courage (mostly understood as courage in battle), or wisdom (as they lacked an education and experience of the world outside the home), or moderation (as they had no sexual freedom and did not take part in heavy-drinking parties), or justice (as they had no scope to judge adult men and to mete out rewards and punishments). Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, writing in the 4th century BCE stated explicitly that virtue was different for men and for women. For women, obedience was the top virtue and so presumably conducive to their flourishing.

Aristotle wrote on a much wider range of subjects than Plato had, from marine biology to human reproduction, from political organisation to drama and rhetoric. In ethics, he pointed out that some supposed virtues could be too much of a good thing. Too much courage was foolhardiness; too much moderation was stinginess and asceticism. Too much wisdom might make you seem pompous, I suppose, and a fanatical commitment to justice would exclude mercy and forgiveness, which seem virtuous. But Aristotle’s main contribution to moral philosophy is often considered to be his point that to be happy you have to be somewhat lucky. If you are born with a terrible, progressive disease, or into the middle of a war, or if you happen to have powerful enemies who impede you at every turn, your chances of flourishing are lower than otherwise. For eudaimonia, you not only have to practise virtue; you need friends, your health and a decent income.

A third major school of philosophy, Stoicism, represented by a number of teachers and writers in the Greek and Roman traditions, including Epictetus and Seneca, reverted to the Platonic view that external events cannot diminish the wellbeing of the good person. The world, they thought, is ruled by providence; all that happens is fated to happen, and we must embrace our individual fates and the past and the future that has been determined for us. As things could not have happened otherwise, regret and remorse over past decisions and actions are pointless.

Not only regret, but all emotions, including anger, pity and love, are ‘diseases’ of the soul in need of a cure, though a general benevolence towards humanity was permissible. An emotional reaction, they maintained, always involves the illusion that some external event, a rejection letter, or a friend’s betrayal, or meeting someone fantastic, or being tortured, is objectively bad or good for you. An emotion, they said, is just a bodily disturbance that causes mental disturbance. To restore tranquility, one should remember that these things happen all the time, that they were fated to happen, and that the self is an ‘inner citadel’ that can withstand any attack.

Stoicism has many adherents even today because it offers explicit coping mechanisms for everyday adversities. Psychotherapeutic techniques that involve getting distance or perspective on individual problems have a lot of overlap with Stoic techniques. But there are many problems with Stoicism – and psychotherapy. The major one, in my opinion, is that these techniques haven’t been proven. I have found no well-designed and methodologically sound empirical study showing that emotionally troubled people who undergo perspective-inducing therapy fare better, after some given length of time, than emotionally troubled people who just wait for time to heal their wounds.

A second problem with Stoic practices is that emotions make life feel worth living. Emotional numbness and absence of motivation is the main feature of depression. Drugs that reduce affect are widely disliked by patients who have been prescribed them. Recent empirical work suggests that we need the emotions to make decisions; otherwise we just waffle endlessly, making up rationales and counter-rationales for some course of action. And finally, the Stoic claim that pity for the suffering of others just makes you feel bad yourself is deeply inhuman.

The fourth major philosophy of antiquity was developed in the 3rd century BCE in Athens by Epicurus and taken up by his 1st-century BCE Roman follower, Titus Carus Lucretius, the author of the great didactic poem ‘On the Nature of Things’. Epicureanism challenged both the overall organisation and the accounts of the way to eudaimonia of the other philosophical schools. Epicurus and his followers formed a sort of commune based in Epicurus’s house, surrounded by a ‘garden’, outside the city walls. The Epicureans took their meals in common, discussed science and ethics, and socialised. Women were included in the sect, and their flourishing was not understood differently to that of men. Epicurus was notorious for his nonmarital relationships that combined sex and philosophy.

Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics each made a place in their systems for a god, or godlike intelligences, as the creator or the rulers of the world. And in their various ways, they all agreed that matter by itself was dead, illusory and devoid of any characteristics except being a lump. Spiritual entities, such as Plato’s forms, or Aristotle’s souls, or the Stoic’s world-enlivening pneuma, had to be brought in to explain life, thought and the changes observed in nature.

Epicurus, by contrast, was a materialist. All that really existed, he declared, were indestructible atoms – tiny mobile particles, invisible to the naked eye, with various shapes and sizes, but devoid of colour, odour, flavour and sound, and separated by void space. In combination, they gave rise to the physical world and all its phenomena, including thought and perception. The atoms had formed the world by themselves – originally sticking together just by chance and growing into larger stable complexes. If there were gods, they too were made of atoms. But there was no need to appeal to the gods to explain any happenings on Earth or in the sky – or for that matter in history or in anyone’s personal life. The soul was composed of atoms as well; it dissipated into the air at death, so there was no immortality, or resurrection, or transmigration of souls.

Their theory of nature had ethical consequences for the Epicureans. Prayer was useless, and there was no hell, regardless of what the priests taught, for the wicked. The life of eudaimonia was simply one in which pleasure dominated over pain. This required prudence, and the ability to tell the difference between experiences and occupations conventionally assumed to be pleasurable and those that were truly pleasurable.

The Epicureans had no patience for the Stoic claim that human beings are self-sufficient, without need for the approval, goodwill or assistance of others. They doubted that the mind could, or should try to repress or dissolve emotions. To be happy, they insisted, we need to be engaged with external things and with other people. When things go badly, we will suffer, and there is no real cure except time and distraction. So it’s essential to be aware of the most frequent external causes of misfortune and to steer clear of them before misfortunes happen. As the future is not predetermined, and as humans have free will, this is possible.

Political ambition and wealth-seeking almost always cause anxiety and disappointment. So does romantic love when unrequited, which sociologists tell us is most of the time. So try not to get or remain snared! (Obsession with someone unavailable will fade quicker with no contact, according to Epicurus, and, according to Lucretius, temporary diversion with just about any willing bystander can help.) Many painful illnesses can be avoided by prudent behaviour and correct choice of food and drink, and, when those befall us despite our best efforts, intense pains are short-lived and long-lived pains are mild.

Rather than aiming specifically to maximise pleasure, the Epicureans concentrated on minimising pains, the pains that arise from failures of ‘choice and avoidance’. They knew that immediate intuition about costs and benefits is unreliable. One must sometimes sacrifice appealing food and drink in the short term to avoid the long-term pains of addiction and poor health; and sacrifice sexual opportunity to avoid humiliation, anger or social or economic fallout. But there is nothing virtuous about poverty and deprivation, and no one’s misery is ever deserved. Martyrdom for a cause is pointless, and, if we punish wrongdoers, it should be only for reasons of deterrence, not for revenge; if punishment doesn’t work, it is morally wrong to punish.

But if life is limited to this life, and if virtues such as wisdom, moderation and justice are only abstract ideas in atomic minds, why be moral?

The Epicureans had two answers to this question. One was that the people around you resent stupidity, cowardice, self-indulgence and injustice – the opposites of the traditional virtues. So, if you habitually engage in them, you will find yourself socially excluded and perhaps even punished by the law. Nonconformity to morality brings pain.

The other answer was that it is possible to have an entirely pleasant life without causing injury to others through dishonesty, immoderation or other vices. The sources of innocent pleasure are all around us: in the sensory enjoyment of music, food, landscapes and artworks, and especially, Epicurus thought, in the study of nature and society, and in conversing with friends. Unlike Aristotle, who thought one’s friends should be chosen for their virtue (rather than for their advantage), Epicurus thought that friends were just people who thought more or less the same way you did, whom you just happened to like.

Although few of us want to drop out and join a residential philosophical cult in the suburbs, carrying the Epicurean perspective into daily life can be of personal value.

A first point of departure for thinking about Epicureanism in a contemporary context is the fact that competition for power, esteem and financial reward (none of which the Epicureans regarded as real goods) is built into every aspect of our society. We are urged to strive for promotions and better salaries, for the best GPAs, test scores and university places, for recognition and approval from colleagues, for the best possible mate in terms of looks and status. Advertisements on the New York subway urge me to get a diploma, bid for construction contracts, initiate and win lucrative lawsuits, and fix my face and figure. My glossy alumni magazine glorifies those faculty who discovered or invented something patentable, or who at least seem to be on track to do so, and its advertising urges me to invest my wealth with prestigious firms to acquire even more wealth. The bestselling self-help books advertised on Amazon, and lining the shelves in the airport newsvendors, promise to boost me to a top position where I can make all the decisions and boss others around, and to crush the self-defeating behaviour preventing me from finding lasting love.

This success-driven focus of contemporary life is complemented by a focus on the passive consumption of supposed comfort- and pleasure-inducing objects, such as speciality mattresses and bamboo-fibre socks. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more to read (and to ponder).

Two book recommendations (included in the list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending):

No Contest: The Case Against Competition

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2019 at 8:41 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Mental Health, Shaving

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Why Hasn’t Bisphenol A (BPA) Been Banned Completely?

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Good question, eh? I think the answer is obvious: strong corporate influence over government regulatory agencies and legislators. Michael Greger MD blogs:

“The number of new chemicals is increasing exponentially, with approximately 12,000 new substances added daily…”—yet data aren’t available on the hazards of even some of the high-volume chemicals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the highest volume chemicals, with billions of pounds produced each year. Studies have raised concerns about its possible implication in the cause of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, and breast cancer. Given this, BPA is the topic of my video Why BPA Hasn’t Been Banned.

A new study on the health implications of BPA comes out nearly every week. BPA was first developed over a hundred years ago as a synthetic estrogen, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that industry realized it could be used to make polycarbonate plastic, and “BPA rapidly became one of the most produced and used chemicals worldwide, even though it was a recognized synthetic estrogen” with hormonal effects. About a billion pounds are also used to line food and beverage cans, especially for tuna and condensed soups.

Today, nearly all of us, including our children, have BPA in our bodies, but not to worry: The government says up to 50 µg/kg per day is safe. Even those working in Chinese BPA factories don’t get exposed to more than 70 times lower than that so-called safety limit. Why then did exposure seem to affect male workers’ sperm counts? In the United States, the general population gets less than a thousand times lower than the safety limit, yet, even at those incredibly low doses, we still seem to be seeing adverse effects on thyroid function, weight control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular disease, liver function, and immune function. Indeed, “[t]he fact that there are significant adverse effects in populations exposed to BPA at concentrations [thousands of] times lower than the TDI [tolerable daily limit]…indicates that the safe exposure to BPA may be much lower than previously thought in humans.” Despite this, the limit hasn’t been changed. BPA has been banned from “baby bottles and sippy cups,” but nearly unlimited doses are still apparently okay for everyone else. What’s the disconnect?

It has to do with the fascinating world of low-dose effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals. “For decades, studies of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have challenged traditional concepts in toxicology, in particular the dogma of ‘the dose makes the poison’”—that is, the concept “that lower exposures to a hazardous compound will therefore always generate lower risks.” Indeed, that is the core assumption underlying our system of chemical safety testing. Researchers start giving animals in laboratories a super-high dose and then keep lowering the dosage until whatever adverse effects that had occurred disappear. Then, they add a safety buffer and assume everything below that dose should be okay, assuming a straight line showing the higher the dose, the higher the effect. However, hormone-disrupting chemicals can have all sorts of curious curves. How is it possible that something could have more of an effect at a lower dose?

A study was done to see whether BPA suppressed an obesity-protective hormone in fat samples taken from breast reduction and tummy tuck patients. At 100 nanomoles of BPA, hormone levels were no lower than they were at 0nM of BPA. And, since most people have levels between 1 and 20, BPA was considered to be safe. But, although there was no suppression at 0 and no suppression at 100, at the levels actually found in people’s bodies, BPA appeared to cut hormone release nearly in half.

As the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones concluded, “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause [problems].” In fact, it may come to nearly $3 billion in problems every year, counting the estimated effects of BPA on childhood obesity and heart disease alone. There are alternatives the industry can use. The problem, though, is that they may cost companies two cents more.


Related videos about BPA include BPA on Receipts: Getting Under Our Skin and Are the BPA-Free Alternatives Safe?

BPA isn’t the only problem with canned tuna. Check out:

What can we do to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals? See, for example, Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates and How to Avoid the Obesity-Related Plastic Chemical BPA.

Alkylphenols are another group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. To learn more . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Notice that this is an example of why government regulation is necessary. If using BPA means products can cost less, then any manufacturer who stops using it is at a competitive disadvantage. But if BPA is banned so that no manufacturer can use it, then none will be given any unfair advantage (or disadvantage).

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2019 at 8:21 am

The Omega Pro 48 with Antica Barbieria Colla and the Mamba

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The Omega Pro 48 — model 10048 — is the first boar brush I owned, and it remains an excellent brush. The loft is enough that the feel on the face is a soft resilience, and in this shave, at least, only the tip of the knot was really involved: I loaded the brush well, but that loading did not extend more than a quarter of the way down the knot, and as I worked up a very nice lather indeed — ABC is an excellent shaving soap — the lathered part of the brush didn’t go any deeper. But the knot is large enough that it still held plenty of soap and lather for an excellent three-pass shave.

I’ve read comments that the Pro 48 is too large for face lathering, but it has never seemed so to me. I find it quite easy to work up a good lather on the face, and the experience is pleasant enough that i’m getting this big boy back in rotation once we get through the parade of my natural-bristle brushes. We still have quite a way to go: today finishes the first shelf only: top left.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2019 at 7:47 am

Posted in Shaving

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