Later On

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

Archive for November 24th, 2019

Food categories/cuisines and foods that don’t fit

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I have to recognize that i personally tend not to fit in comfortable categories, which makes me sympathetic to foods that also lie outside the mainstream. Just today I was discussing one of my food melanges (this one based on oatmeal, to which I add 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes, about 1 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1 teaspoon amla powder). The commnt was that I cold not taste the oatmeal. My response was that I liked the taste of the dish, and it was moreover extremely healthful.

And then we discussed my melanges — the whole-food plant-based dishes that I cook, using a variety of vegetables. The objection was that I couldn’t taste the individual vegetables — a plea for simplicity, I think.

I realized later that the problem was to fit what I was describing into a pre-existing cuisine category, and that was difficult. I paid attention to the dish when I ate lunch, and I certainly liked the taste that resulted, but also the mouthfeel, with a variety of textures, from smooth and soft the Japanese egg plant) to the chewy (the kamut) to the chewy/crunchy )partially cooked diced beets and diced daikon), as well as the asparagus and tomatoes and  spinach and on on.

The probem, I realized, was that the dish I cooked didn’t fit with the dishes the person was familiar with. I paid attention as I ate my lunh, and it occurred to me that the closest match was in some Chinese dishes, in which a combination of individual foods contributed their bit to the overall flavor and mouthfeel of the final dish. Mine did not taste Chinese, but it was the same sort of idea of a variety joining forces for a single complex result.

But we want to fit things into categories we already know, so that (for example) an appetizer-dessert-entrée dish is hard to accept because it doesn’t fit within pre-existing categories.

My dishes are not so outré as that, but still they don’t match the traditional paradigms, so if you’re judging from that platform, they fail. But if you judge them on their own (in terms of taste, mouthfeel, and healthfulness), they do pretty well, IMO.

Still, I do understand that it’s difficult to break away from the familiar and the memes we’ve learned. But in some cases it seems worth the effort to look at things without preconceptions and pre-defined categorie.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 8:32 pm

Live-blogging tempeh bacon

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The Eldest pointed out this recipe for tempeh bacon. I would prefer that they call it “marinated and roasted tempeh strips,” but The Wife suggested that “tempeh bacon” indicates the flavor profile they’re targeting. At any rate, I read the recipe, thought, “Hey! I have some excellent fresh homemade tempeh. And it’s Sunday night. And I’m watching movies.” So, before you can recite the Gettysburg Address three times backwards, I have sliced off strips of my excellent (if I say it myself) soybean tempeh and created the marinade (with red rather than white miso: go with what you’ve got).

Sliced tempeh in dish:

And with marinade poured over:

I’ll flip it a triple of times over the next hour and then roast. I plan to have leftovers, FWIW.

Will be blogging the result. Stay tuned.

6:34pm Turning a triple of times was optimistic, by a factor of three. Strips now going onto parchment paper and into the oven.

6:39pm Forget tongs. Strips too fragile, fingers work best. Placed strips on parchment paper in baking sheet, into oven. Rinsed and washed the dish used for marinating, then looked at recipe to see that I am supposed to baste strips with marinade after 25 minutes when I turn them over. Well, that’s out the window. I’ll just turn them over and hope for the best.

This is why I find it often necessary to repeat a recipe…

7:08pm Turned the strips. Tongs this time (fingers out of the question). Not bad looking, and I think not having the marinade to baste them will not be all that bad [ <- rationalization – LG].

7:34pm Good crispiness. Good flavor. Not bacon, but something good.

Aside: Just this morning I was reminded that sometimes we dislike foods because we are trying to cram them into a category that’s a poor fit. Don’t think of these as “bacon.” Think of these as “crispy tasty things made from soybean tempeh,” and then they are excellent. In fact, these would be excellent as a finger food at cocktail hour.

Probably even better had I marinade available after the first 25 minutes.

Successful expriment.

7:59pm Having some of the bacon — which in fact turned out really well — with Trug’s Nicely Spicy Red Pepper Jelly. Yummy.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 5:44 pm

Omega-3s & the Eskimo Fish Tale

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The idea that the Inuit have practically zero heart disease as a result of a (meat-based) diet high in omega-3 is wrong from the git-go: Inuit do not have low rates of heart disease, and in fact their rate of heart disease improved when they adopted a more conventional Western diet.

However, although omega-3 doesn’t help with heart disease, that does not provide information about its importance for our overall health beyond heart disease, and for that it seems important — for example, omega-3 helps with anxiety and depression, eye health including reduced risk for macular degeneration, brain health, and others.

This (3 1/2 minute) video is quite interesting:

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 4:05 pm

Thomas Mulcair Tells Journalists Homeopathy Works for Him

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Homeopathy always has seemed totally crackpot to me. McGill Office for Science and Society has an article by Jonathan Jerry (in the category “pseudoscience”) that begins:

I attended a pro-homeopathy media event on November 19th supported by Thomas Mulcair, the former leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and also the former president of the Office des professions du Québec, which is tasked with ensuring that professions in our province are exercised with competence and integrity. Mulcair himself had, as far as I’m aware, come out of the “water closet” on the airwaves of CJAD a few days before, in defence of the pseudoscience that claims that “like cures like” and that dilutions make an ingredient more powerful. The purpose of the media event was to legitimize homeopathy and to announce the creation of a popular movement and a coalition in Quebec to spread positive opinions about the practice. I was there on behalf of our Office, alongside our director, though we had not originally been invited. We asked to be present and eventually the two of us were invited to attend the event.

To someone who knows nothing about homeopathy, it would probably have appeared to be a very credible presentation. But like with any successful illusion, there’s trickery involved. To be clear, I’m not accusing any participant of this press conference of purposefully utilizing trickery. But these artifices were indeed present regardless.

Homeopathy has had a hard time with the Quebec media in the past nine months. First there was my survey which showed that at least two thirds of pharmacies in Montreal carry sugar granules for the flu. Then came Philippe Mercure’s investigation which revealed that two thirds of the pharmacists he visited were either on the fence about (“could work!”) or favourable to homeopathy. This led the pharmacists’ order to remind its members that there was no evidence for homeopathy; it resulted in the physicians’ college publicly declaring the same; and it led to signage in pharmacies all over the province informing consumers that there was no good scientific evidence behind this practice of incredible dilutions to the point of non-existence. So clearly homeopathy’s image in the media needed rehabilitation in the eyes of its stakeholders.

The press conference spearheaded by Mulcair filled its stage with alleged experts: the Honourable Mr. Mulcair himself, but also physicians, the directors of an institute, and a pharmacist. But many of the arguments made—either for the legitimacy of homeopathy, its preservation in drugstores, or the need for a professional order in Quebec to protect the public—were not worthy of their combined expertise. We were told by Christophe Augé, who teaches at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Montreal, that we should first remove junk food from pharmacies before ridding them of homeopathy. We can actually do both. Dr. Christiane Laberge, a family physician and media commentator on health issues, decried the recent wave of “controversy” over homeopathy, whereas the practice used to be so much more accepted. (We even had a homeopathic hospital in Montreal, she reminded us.) Of course, bloodletting and lobotomies were similarly popular in their days but have since fallen out of fashion for good reasons. And we were repeatedly asked, rhetorically, if skeptics were calling the 200 millions of people worldwide who use homeopathy “idiots”. While some may indeed do so on social media mostly to vent their frustration, many people understand what leads us all to seek any remedy: desperation. When your quality of life plummets, even the most rational of scientists may think to themselves, “But what if this worked? Let’s try it.”

Playing Whack-a-Mole with scientific studies

When it comes to answering the question of whether or not there are scientific studies that show homeopathy works, the two sides on this issue can all-too-easily get bogged down in a form of trench warfare. The pro camp throws a handful of studies into enemy territory. That side proceeds to mutilate them and throws better studies back. And the pro camp catapults over yet another helping of studies. Duane Gish did something similar when he supported Creationism in debates, throwing so many errors and misleading information that his debating partner didn’t have a chance to refute them all. This “Gish gallop” can now be done with scientific studies, and we could spend a whole career simply poking holes into so many of the studies purporting to show that homeopathy works. Professor Edzard Ernst does as much on his blog.

One example: we were given the reference to a meta-analysis of homeopathic trials by Mathie (2014) and told that it showed homeopathic remedies were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have a beneficial effect than actual placebo pills. However, you don’t need to read very far into the article to realize that any conclusion is tentative: “The low or unclear overall quality of the evidence prompts caution in interpreting the findings.” Even though first author Robert Mathie belongs to the British Homeopathic Association, he is still saying that the evidence his team looked at for this meta-analysis is not of good quality. Not all studies are created equal.

The right to choose integrative medicine

The Coalition pour l’homéopathie au Québec (The Quebec Coalition for Homeopathy), which was birthed at the event (it was a water birth, har har har), has adopted “right to choose” as its main argument. I’m used to hearing it from libertarians who want access to experimental drugs or who want the government to stop telling them they have to vaccinate their kids. I’m all for consumers making informed choices about their healthcare. But giving them misinformation about homeopathy will not lead to an informed decision. Moreover, nobody is coming to rid the province of all homeopathic products. I have argued that they have no place in pharmacies, and that homeopaths should not have a professional order, but you can still get those products from homeopaths and natural health stores. Yet here we are in 2019, being served a warmed-up version of Mel Gibson’s infamous vitamin commercial from the 90s.

The phrase “integrative medicine” was bandied about quite a few times as their desired destination for our healthcare system. Much like Creationism was rebranded “intelligent design” to sneak it into the biology curricula of American high schools, alternative medicine has gone through several skin-shedding events to reposition itself as acceptable. First it was alternative; then it became alternative and complementary; then holistic; and now we are sold this idea that actual medicine needs to be integrated with these practices, which have either not been shown to work or been shown not to work. It is indisputable that medicine does not have a treatment for everyone. But the answer is not to allow nonsense to be dispensed alongside it. If there are problems with airplanes, the solution can’t be magic carpets.

Would a professional order of homeopaths in Quebec protect the public?

Finally, we were asked why . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 1:42 pm

‘The Anti-Facebook’: Wikipedia co-founder launches ad-free social media platform

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This strikes me as a good idea. Obviously, to provide the service a company must obtain revenue. It can get the revenue from its members/subscribers, who pay a fee but in return not only get the service but are free of surveillance and advertising; or it can get the revenue by selling the personal information and data of their subscribers and also by selling the targeting of ads when the service is used. I prefer the former.

Stephen Johnson writes in Big Think:

  • The social media platform features a Facebook-style newsfeed, but content is prioritized by recency instead of engagement.
  • Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said he was inspired to create WT:Social because advertising had allowed “low-quality” content to dominate Facebook and Twitter.
  • Facebook and Twitter have recently adopted opposing strategies in how to handle political advertising.

Fed up with Facebook and Twitter? If so, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales hopes you’ll join WT:Social, a new social media platform that promises not to run advertisements or sell user data.

WT:Social features a Facebook-like feed on which users can share news or other content. But unlike Facebook, whose algorithms prioritize content that’s sponsored or receiving a lot of engagement, WT:Social simply shows new content first.

This content comes from various sections of the platform (called subwikis) that users choose to join. (A few I found while browsing: “Snowboarding”, “Shamanism” and, curiously, “Liberation for all People (+Veganism)”). The platform will allow users to “directly edit misleading headlines, or flag problem posts.”

About 160,000 people have signed up for WT:Social since it launched in October. The platform is free to join, but new users are put on a wait-list, which can be instantly bypassed if you donate money. WT:Social hopes to survive only on donations. [I think a straightforward subscription fee would be better. – LG]

“Instead of optimizing our algorithm to addict you and keep you clicking, we will only make money if you voluntarily choose to support us — which means that our goal is not clicks but actually being meaningful to your life,” Wales said in a post about the project.

Wales said advertising is the key problem of platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problem driving low quality media is that it has been purely advertising supported, and that the social networks which provide so much distribution are also purely advertising supported,” he wrote in a blog post. “Facebook, Twitter and other social networks make revenue based on how long you stay on their site looking at and clicking on advertising. Engagement is prioritized over quality.”

A video published Monday by the WT:Social team says Wales was inspired to create the platform because of “the superficiality of Facebook and Twitter,” and that he hopes his new platform will “conquer Facebook,” which he considers to be “full of clickbait and misleading news.”

“This is a radical, crazy experiment of mine,” Wales told the Financial Times. “I’m happy to say I don’t know all the answers.”

WT:Social is a reboot of WikiTribune, a crowdfunded news-sharing service that Wales launched in 2017, but has since struggled and laid off editorial staffers. The ultimate goal for WT:Social, Wales suggested, is to serve as a replacement for Facebook and Twitter.

“We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line,” he told the Financial Times. “Obviously the ambition is not 50,000 or 500,000 but 50m and 500m.”

Facebook and Twitter fatigue

It’s easy to see why some people would want to ditch Facebook and Twitter. In 2019, Facebook has so far removed some 5.4 billion fake accounts, while in September Twitter announced it had removed thousands of fake accounts that were spreading political disinformation in six countries. And then there’s concerns about the 2020 U.S. presidential election, for which the two platforms recently adopted opposing strategies for how to handle misinformation in political ads.

Twitter has banned all forms of political ads, defined as paid content that references “a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome.” In stark contrast, Facebook will allow political ads of all sorts, even those containing blatant misinformation.

A platform such as WT:Social might seem like a healthier alternative. Still, it seems likely that trolls and political operatives would find some way to weaponize the platform, should it prove successful. WT:Social’s unique protection against that threat (besides lack of advertising) is  . . .

Continue reading.

And also: join. Use this link to join and I move up in the queue. I was wrong about it being free. It does not depend on donations. Instead it is a subscription, and a rather expensive one at that: $12/month.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 9:02 am

I’m thinking BBQ sauce

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I was intrigued by this recipe for Oat+Lentil Loaf, but I didn’t much like using BBQ sauce because bottled BBQ sauces are generally high in both sugar and salt.  But then The Eldest suggested I make my own. Of course! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I suppose I’m habituated to product foods.

I immediately thought of this idea for a recipe, which now I’m eager to try. The proportions are just guesses and I’ll adjust during the making.

1 small can of no-salt-added tomato paste
1 Tbsp vinegar (apple cider, sherry, red wine, or brown rice)
1 Tbsp mustard (I have a local smoky mustard I’ll use, but Dijon would work) or 2 tsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 Tbsp Wright’s liquid smoke (Wright’s seems to be best)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce or tamari or Red Boat fish sauce (umami boost)
1 Tbsp horseradish (from the refrigerated section, not off the shelves)
3 Medjool dates, chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp dried mint
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1  lemon, ends cut off and discarded (you can also cut off and discard the peel if you want), cut into fourths

Blend all ingredients until the result is liquid. Add water or wine to think it if it’s too thick. Simmer for 20 minutes.

I might include ground ancho chile or chimayo chile as well. Undecided.

The chopping of the jalapeños and garlic cloves and the cutting up of the lemon is to make them blend more easily.

Here’s why I like Wright‘s. It comes in three flavors:

Applewood: Smoke Flavor, Red Apple Flavor, Maple Syrup Flavor, and Apple Wood Smoke Flavor.
Hickory: Water, Natural Hickory Smoke Concentrate.
Mesquite: Water, Natural Mesquite Smoke Concentrate.

Obviously, I would go with Hickory or Mesquite. Applewood has too many “flavors” (whatever those are) as ingredients.

Colgin is the other big name, and they offer several “natural” flavors: Natural Hickory, Natural Mesquite, Natural Pecan, and Natural Apple Flavored. Here are the ingredients for their Natural Hickory liquid smoke:

Water, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Vinegar, Molasses, Caramel Color, and Salt

Their use of “natural” seems to be tongue in cheek.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2019 at 8:45 am

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