Later On

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

Archive for July 3rd, 2021

Michael Davis juggles at Ford Theater in the 1980’s

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

What spice jars should be (and what I now have)

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I bought quite a few of my herbs and spices from Penzeys. The herbs and spices are excellent, the jars are crap. For one thing, the lids are made of a thin and brittle plastic, so if you knock over or drop a jar, the lid will probably split. It will still sit on the jar, but not securely.

After I had about four or five jars with crippled lids, I decided that Steps Must Be Taken, and I (with some reservations) ordered a set of spice jars with metal lids. They have arrived, and I am bowled over by how excellent they are. Some things that impressed me:

  1. Packaging: They arrive in a very sturdy box and inside they are protected by closed-cell foam. The jars themselves sit in individual compartments in a closed-cell container, with a closed cell layer on top. These will not be broken in transit.
  2. The lids are metal: no more cracked lids
  3. The jars are sturdy, made of thick glass.
  4. The square shape means that, when they are packed together in a drawer or on a shelf, you have more available volume in the same amount of space than you do with round jars, which waste space when packed together.
  5. I thought the labels were purely a gimmick, but not so: 10 pages of 35 peel-off self-adhesive labels per page, in alphabetic order, with the last page having a good set of blank labels so you can write the names of herbs and spices not provided — but a great many are provided. For example, for mint there are two labels: Mint Peppermint and Mint Spearmint. (I needed only the latter.) The labels are round, and seem intended for the lid, which works well if the jars are in a drawer. (Since I have many of my jars on a shelf, I used my label-maker to label the side of the jar in addition to the label on the lid.)
  6. They come with a funnel and a bag of snap-on sprinkle tops (which in general I don’t need, since I measure the spices out of the jar, but in some cases are handy).

These are half-cup jars (4 (fl)oz capacity), which works for most of my herbs and spices, but for some I want a full cup (8 (fl)oz) since I use those in greater quantity: Mexican oregano, for example, or dried parsley. So I’m ordering a smaller quantity of 8 (fl)oz jars of the same design: thick glass, square cross-section, metal lids.

I’m very happy with these. I should have done this years ago.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 8:14 pm

Garlic powder, a reliable seasoning that deserves respect

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I use garlic powder fairly often, though most often fresh garlic since one reason I like garlic is for the dietary fiber, which in garlic (and in alliums in general, along with asparagus and some other foods) is particularly supportive of good microbes in the microbiome. Shown above is some garlic The Wife bought for me in Saanich, just up the road. This is a hardneck red Russian garlic, and it’s only partially dried so that the paper covering is not brittle but peels away like a tough leaf. The garlic itself is mild, sweet, and tasty.

I read an article by Aaron Hutcherson, a writer and recipe developer for “Voraciously” at the Washington Post, that was interesting. He points out that garlic powder is perfectly okay: it’s just dried garlic that’s been ground (and granulated garlic is dried garlic ground not quite so fine). I’m reminded of another great food enhancer that’s sounds suspicious but is perfectly fine and a great shortcut: liquid smoke. This works great in, for example, chili, collards, and other things that benefit from a slight smoke flavor. It would be good, for example, in homemade ketchup — which I highly recommend: better than store-bought and very easy.

I will modify my liquid-smoke recommendation. I recommend liquid smoke (like Wright’s) that consists of two ingredients (water, natural hickory smoke concentrate), not liquid smoke (like Colgin’s) that’s more akin to a processed food (ingredients: water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color, and salt). (The Eldest pointed out to me this difference.)

Hutcherson writes:

Garlic powder is essential in my cooking. The dried allium in some form — garlic powder, granulated garlic and garlic salt — has been part of my palate since I was a child enjoying my mother’s recipes. Behind salt and pepper, it is the most used seasoning in my pantry even today. It’s a constant when I want to prepare veggies for roasting, season the meat and flour for skillet-fried chicken or pork chops, or give pantry recipes an extra boost of flavor without needing to pull out a knife and cutting board to use fresh garlic cloves.

While garlic powder sits high on a pedestal in my kitchen — beloved, revered, irreplaceable — some view it with shame or even contempt, baffled why anyone would choose to use this processed product over the fresh alternative.

“Our prejudice has everything to do with this century’s obsession with all things ‘artisanal’ and ‘natural’ — two vaguely defined terms that are widely used to characterize a food’s worth,” cookbook author Leah Koenig wrote of the similarly maligned onion powder.

To clear up any confusion: Garlic powder is natural. The process to make it is so simple that you can even do it at home: peel fresh cloves, slice them thinly, dry them out, then grind them down to whatever consistency you want, and voilà! You’ve made garlic powder. The ingredient list for the canister in your cupboard should only contain six letters: g-a-r-l-i-c. Anything more and it’s not something you should be spending your money on if you have the choice.

But it’s exactly that choice that highlights some of the stigma surrounding the seasoning — not everyone has it, which warrants a closer look at the demographics of those who don’t. “Garlic powder got a bad reputation because it was seen as being associated with the type of cooking that fine-dining chefs didn’t have a lot of respect for,” said Ethan Frisch, co-founder of single-origin spice company Burlap & Barrel. “There were racial overtones to that kind of perception of the ingredient.”

Or more explicitly, it’s the connection to Black foodways. “We are garlic fiends in the Black community,” culinary historian Michael W. Twitty said in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times on the subject. “ … We learned how to use it because garlic powder is economical and stays around longer.” The same can be said for people with limited food access from all ethnicities who have made it a pantry staple.

While my circumstances in life have eliminated my need to rely solely on the dried allium, my want remains, because garlic powder adds complexity and umami to anything it touches, and in certain cases is better than fresh.

“Unlike the dominating flavor of fresh garlic, powder is more the glue behind the glitter, adding a subtle fullness of flavor that may be more difficult to detect than with fresh, but nonetheless makes the meal taste better,” Ari LeVaux wrote in the Austin American Statesman. I consider them two different ingredients, each with their own uses and flavor profiles, and the choice between them primarily comes down to heat, texture and timing. (But if you must substitute one for the other, between 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder has the equivalent potency of one garlic clove.)

When to use garlic powder. When heat is involved, you need to consider the likelihood of fresh garlic burning during the cooking process. So when grilling a steak or frying chicken, while you can use fresh cloves in a marinade, it’s much easier to use powder. Otherwise, you need to be meticulous about wiping the marinade off the food or else you risk an unwanted bitterness from burned garlic. (Garlic powder can still burn, but it is less likely to do so than fresh.) Raw garlic also should not be used in sous vide cooking because there’s a risk of botulism.

The texture of garlic powder makes it ideal for spice rubs and dredges. Minced fresh garlic would make it lumpy, thanks in part to the moisture, but the dry powder is much more easily dispersed. So anytime I make a spice blend for barbecue or a batch of seasoned flour ahead of dredging and frying chicken, I grab the canister from my cupboard to add garlic flavor.

Another critical aspect to consider is . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 7:56 pm

10 tips for coping with wildfire smoke, from a public health expert

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Sarah Henderson, Associate Professor (Partner), School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, writes in The Conversation:

Wildfires have burned millions of acres in the western United States this year. Tens of thousands have been evacuated and thousands of buildings and other structures destroyed. Thick smoke blankets much of the region — colouring the skies red and orange — and is flowing north into British Columbia and Alberta. Tens of millions of people have been exposed to these hazardous conditions.

Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of fine particulate matter, called PM 2.5, and gases, such as volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. The composition of the mixture depends on many variables, including the fuels that are burning, the temperature of combustion, the weather and the distance from the fire. Although wildfire smoke is different from the air pollution caused by traffic and industry, it is also harmful to human health.

Wildfires cause episodes of the worst air quality that many people will ever experience. Fine particulate matter can be inhaled deep into the lungs, where it may lead to systemic inflammation that affects other parts of the body.

On smoky days, more people visit emergency rooms, more people are admitted to hospital and some people will die because of the smoke exposure. We also know that PM 2.5 can affect the immune system, which may make some people more susceptible to acute respiratory infections such as influenza and COVID-19.

Coping with intense and prolonged wildfire smoke is difficult, both physically and mentally. I have been studying how this unpredictable and extreme type of air pollution affects the respiratory and cardiovascular health of exposed populations for many years. Here are 10 tips to protect yourself and your family from the risks of wildfire smoke.

1. Understand your susceptibility

Some people are at higher risk of experiencing health effects from smoke, especially those who have asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, other chronic conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19.

Pregnant women, infants, young children, older adults and people who work or live outdoors are also more susceptible. Anyone who uses rescue medications should carry them at all times.

2. Listen to your body

Different people can have very different reactions to the same amount of smoke. If you feel unwell, listen to your body and take actions to reduce your exposure.

The most common symptoms include eye irritation, sore throat, cough and headache, which usually disappear when the smoke disperses. Anyone who has more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or heart palpitations should seek medical attention.

Smoke is an environment hazard to be respected, not a personal challenge to be overcome.

3. . .

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 5:07 pm

Conservative racists in Congress repeat old errors

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Today news broke that Anthony Aguero, who was in the Capitol on January 6 and who is close to Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), joined Republican members of the right-wing Republican Study Committee when they traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday night.

Aguero interviewed, chatted with, translated for, and gave a ride to one of the lawmakers, there. Those included Representatives Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Thomas Tiffany (R-WI), Chris Jacobs (R-NY), Michael Cloud (R-TX), John Rose (R-TN), and Mary Miller (R-IL). The Republican Study Committee’s deputy communications director, Buckley Carlson, who is Tucker Carlson’s son, said Aguero’s presence with the group was “purely incidental.”

The association of sitting Congress members with someone who was apparently part of an insurrection is particularly audacious at a moment when the House of Representatives is in the process of forming a select committee to investigate that series of events.

Once before, in 1879, a political party behaved in a similarly aggressive way, trying to destroy the government from within. Then, too, Congress members took an extremist position in order to try to steal the upcoming presidential election. They hoped to win that election by getting rid of Black voting.

Still angry after the votes of Black southerners tipped the contested election of 1876 to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, Democrats set out to stop government protection of Black voters before the next presidential election. In 1879, they attached to appropriations bills riders that prohibited the use of the army to guard southern polling places (it is a myth that federal troops abandoned the South in 1877) and eliminating federal supervision of elections. The punishment for holding federal troops at the polls was a fine of up to $5000 and imprisonment at hard labor for 3 months to 5 years, that is, an express ride into the convict labor system that was brutalizing formerly enslaved people.

Republicans refused to accept the terms of the appropriations bill, and Congress adjourned without passing it. Hayes immediately called the new Congress into special session. In this Congress, though, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, for the first time since before the Civil War. And, since the senior members of the party were southerners, former Confederates quickly took over the key leadership positions in Congress.

Once there, they ignored that voters had put them in office in a reaction against Republicans’ economic policies and Hayes’s contested election. Instead, they insisted that the American people wanted them to enact the extreme program they had advocated since the war, overturning the federal policies that defended Black rights and reinstating white supremacy, unchallenged. They took their fight to end Black voting directly to the president.

The House Minority leader was a Union veteran from Ohio, James A. Garfield. He explained to a friend the Democrats’ plan: if Hayes vetoed the bills and the Democrats were unable to pass them over his veto—“that is, if he does not consent or 2/3 of the two Houses do not vote on these measures as the Democratic caucus has framed them,” Garfield wrote—“[t]hey will let the government perish for want of supplies.” “If this is not revolution,” he concluded, “which if persisted in will destroy the government, [then] I am wholly wrong in my conception of both the word and the thing.”

Democrats tried to argue that they were fighting for free elections, for liberty from a tyrannical national government. But they also listed the virtues of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, whom they compared to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and U.S. Grant, and celebrated the former Confederates who had been elected to make up their new majority. Just like Davis, they claimed, all they asked was to be left alone to run their states as they wished. One ex-Confederate told the New York Times that leaving Congress in 1861 had been “a great blunder.” Southerners were far more likely to win their goals by controlling Congress. Southern Democrats urged their constituents to “present a solid front to the enemy.”

With Garfield stiffening the spines of nervous Republicans, Hayes vetoed the bill with the riders five times, and as popular opinion swung behind him, the Democrats backed down. They had badly misjudged their power. The extended rider fight kept the story of their attack on the government firmly in front of voters, who despised their behavior and principles both. In the next presidential election, voters turned away from the Democratic candidate and to Garfield, now famous for his stand against the riders and for his wholehearted defense of Black voting.

The 1879 overreach of the Democratic extremists marked a sea change in the Democratic Party. Scorched by their 1880 defeat, Democratic leaders turned away from ex-Confederates and toward new urban leaders in the North. Eager to nail together a new constituency, those leaders talked of racial reconciliation and began to lay the groundwork for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was born in 1882, just two years before New York Democrat Grover Cleveland would win the White House on the party’s new platform.

The story of Garfield’s rise to power has been much on my mind today, partly because it is the anniversary of the day in 1881 when assassin Charles Guiteau shot the president, although he would live until September 19, when he finally succumbed to horrific infections caused by his doctor’s insistence on probing the bullet wound without washing his hands.

But I am also thinking of this story as I watch Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) try to figure out how to respond to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to suggest five members for the new select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Senate Republicans killed the bipartisan select committee on which Republicans would have had significant power to limit the investigation both in scope, by refusing to agree to certain subpoenas, and in time, because Congress had required that committee to report before the end of the year. Now, Republicans are facing a committee dominated by Democrats who have subpoena power and no time limit, all while Republican extremism is on increasingly public display.

Forcing the creation of this select committee, rather than taking the offer of an independent, bipartisan committee, was a curious decision.

In 1879, when voters spent several months watching extremists of one party try to suppress the vote and take over the country, they rejected that party so thoroughly that it had to reinvent itself.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 4:59 pm

School of juvenile striped eel catfish in Jemeluk Bay

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Fighting a Fundamentalist University’s Anti-LGBTQ Policies

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Authoritarianism is ugly even in religious dress. Joy Ashford writes in Washington Monthly:

Elizabeth Hunter had fewer than 700 Twitter followers when her Christian college administrators discovered her tweets in 2018. Officials at Bob Jones University, a nondenominational Christian school in South Carolina, called her into the Student Life Office seemingly at random. When Hunter entered, she noticed a manila envelope that contained printouts of tweets they had flagged as “inappropriate.”

The Head of Student life at BJU started the meeting with questions about a tweet she’d posted on sexual assault. (She had expressed exasperation with a male classmate who claimed women were “just looking for attention” if they came forward years after an incident.) Then, they brought up two other tweets.

“Happy pride to all my friends in and out of the closet. You’re incredibly brave, and I love you,” read one. In another, she shared her excitement after meeting the author of the novel that was adapted into Love, Simon, and said that she, too, was writing a book with queer protagonists. The administrator, according to Hunter, stared at her coldly. “Are you a homosexual?” he asked.

Hunter was choked up and unable to respond. When she was hauled before administrators, Hunter was still struggling to figure out her own identity—and had only told “like three people” she wasn’t straight. She told the administrator she was probably asexual “like the Apostle Paul” because she wasn’t attracted to men. He wasn’t satisfied. “He repeatedly asked me if I was homosexual, like he wanted me to ‘confess to being gay,’ which I refused to do,” Hunter told me. “But I also refused to say that I was straight, because I couldn’t lie.”

Hunter left the meeting “traumatized.” As a punishment, the school removed the redhead with a broad smile from her leadership position as the director at the campus TV news station, fined her $75 for violating “the spirit” of the Student Handbook, and mandated that she attend three counseling sessions with the college’s Dean of Women. (The BJU Student Handbook is a rigid instruction manual for students. It says of music, for instance,  “all musical choices are to be intentionally conservative in style and are to avoid the markers of our current corrupt culture which often finds its musical expression in rock, pop, jazz, country, rap or hip-hop.”) Bob Jones University did not respond to a request for comment.

For the remainder of her time at the university, Hunter “tried to keep [her] head down,” she recalls; putting her Twitter on private. But before graduation she was summoned to another meeting with administrators, where they warned her “don’t think we’re not watching you” and “your sins will find you out.” Those Orwellian tactics succeeded at intimidating her; she felt like she couldn’t tell anyone else what had happened, not even her roommate. “I had no one to turn to,” Hunter said.

At most colleges, she would have been able to go to the school’s Title IX office and file a discrimination complaint. But even though most of Hunter’s tuition at Bob Jones was paid for by a federal grant, the school’s Title IX Office had a “religious exemption” from federal law requiring them to investigate claims of discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ people.

But Hunter’s not silent anymore. Three years after that meeting, she is now the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Department of Education challenging the constitutionality of Title IX, which grants an exemption to religious colleges and universities to discriminate against gay and transgender students, faculty, and staff.

The lawsuit, filed in April 2020 by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP), argues that a “religious exemption” this broad for schools that use public funds is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs are advocating not for religious colleges to change their beliefs on LGBTQ identities, but to allow students to disagree with those beliefs without facing expulsion or discrimination. Hunter joined the suit, which was filed in Oregon with 32 other plaintiffs, after a friend and potential plaintiff asked her if she wanted to get involved. REAP wanted to make Hunter the lead because of BJU’s involvement in a similar 1974 anti-discrimination case. “If schools want to discriminate [against these students], they need to do it on their own dime, not with taxpayer money,” Paul Southwick, the director of REAP, told me.

As the face of the lawsuit, Hunter has taken something of a 180-turn since her nightmarish senior year. While Hunter once tried to keep her experience at Bob Jones under wraps, now she is hoping that, by going public, she can galvanize a movement to prevent others from having to endure what she did.

After Hunter’s episode with BJU’s administrators, she struggled with depression and anxiety and felt suicidal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for the first time. She remembers foster care as “literal hell on earth.” The state had removed her from her parent’s custody because of “severe neglect,” and she and her sisters were then placed with a foster family part of an evangelical Baptist group she described as a “cult.”

Hunter’s youngest sister Tammy recalled that their foster mother would punish them arbitrarily and “was probably screaming like every day.” Hunter, who was the oldest, would often take her sisters’ punishments. Their foster mother would hit Hunter’s back with a leather belt “because the Bible says to whip children that are evil,” Tammy recalls. “Elizabeth tried in her own way as a kid to protect us.”

Hunter credited her survival to her ability to “dissociate and imagine a better life”—a skill she said she learned from being an avid reader. Only one other friend she grew up with earned a college degree, she said, and did so at an unaccredited Bible college. When Hunter mused about  going to college, her friends and family often responded by asking, “How are you going to be a housewife and do that?”

Hunter’s foster parents wanted her to do online college and stay at home or attend an unaccredited Bible college, but she was determined to find a place that “felt like a real college.” So, she chose Bob Jones because it was closer to a conventional college experience but not a place that her parents would disown her for attending. While at BJU, however, she became increasingly disillusioned with evangelicalism. In high school and college, she had interned for Republican politicians, including her Texas Congressman Dan Flynn and presidential candidate Marco Rubio. (Bob Jones University itself has had a major role in South Carolina’s often pivotal Republican presidential primary.) She said Trump’s 2016 victory awakened her to fundamentalist hypocrisy. Around that time, she began listening to podcasts from more liberal-minded Unitarian and Quaker Christians. She credited one, in particular—Kevin Garcia’s “A Tiny Revolution”—for opening her to not only a more liberal Christianity, but queer Christianity as well.

After she graduated from BJU, Hunter was liberated. She moved to Florida, worked at Disney World, joined an LGBTQ Disney Workers chat, and “made a bunch of gay friends.” By December . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 3:09 pm

“It’s a catch-all for everything”

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Alcohol is sneaky. That is something my step-father, a recovering alcoholic, once told me, a phrase that came to mind as I read a NY Times article by Mara Altman:

In the four years since she stopped drinking alcohol, Emily Lynn Paulson has reflected a lot on how central alcohol was to her life.

Quite often, she said, she would drink while taking care of her five children or she’d wake up groggy or unable to recall conversations. But then she’d scroll through Instagram and see a friendly face holding up a mug emblazoned, “Rosé All Day.”

It was so normalized: There never seemed to be an occasion when drinking wasn’t billed as the appropriate response. “If you’re stressed, have a drink; if you’re nervous, have a drink; if you want fun, have a drink; if you’re grieving, have a drink,” Ms. Paulson said. “It’s a catch-all for everything.”

“It made me think, Gosh, this must be OK — everyone around me is doing the same thing.”

Ms. Paulson, who last year founded Sober Mom Squad, an online support network for mothers who have stopped or want to curb their drinking, pins this normalization on the alcohol industry which, for years, has targeted women with its advertising, and made people far less likely to question their intake. Less than half of the population is even aware that alcohol is a carcinogen. It can also lead to other health effects including such as liver disease and heart disease — are very real,— especially for women.

The inspiration for alcohol’s marketing approach with women came from the tobacco industry, which wooed women by tapping into their desire for equality. In 1929, a time when it was taboo for women to smoke in public, marketers hired women to smoke their “torches of freedom” while protesting inequality in an Easter Sunday parade. By the 1960s, Virginia Slims started its influential campaign, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

In ads, women were pictured, impeccably dressed and oozing self confidence, cigarette in hand. These liberated women were contrasted by images of their sepia-toned forebears who had to sneak cigarettes and risked being punished by their husbands for taking a drag.

Smoking became symbolic. It wasn’t just an accessory or a habit, “it was sold as empowerment,” said David Jernigan, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health and the former director for the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Alcohol ads have gone the same way by aligning the product with female liberation and sophistication. “We have a repeat of Virginia Slims,” Dr. Jernigan said.

Alcohol companies began expanding their range of products, Dr. Jernigan explained. The push began with wine coolers in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s when alcopops — sweet and fruity alcoholic beverages — came onto the market. The term, which was born from combining the words alcohol and soda pop, applies to drinks like Zima, Smirnoff Ice, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Though the companies never announced it outright, Dr. Jernigan said the products were positioned for entry level drinkers and people who didn’t like the taste of alcohol. “Read: young women,” he said. “We called them beer with training wheels.” A 2012 paper in the American Journal of Public Health notes the preference of alcopops over beer among high-school girls.

The industry held on to those female consumers, Dr. Jernigan said, by evolving with them as they became mothers. “And now we have MommyJuice,” he explained, referring to a wine brand, but which is also a popular term for the alcohol that moms keep in their insulated cups. “We have Mommy’s Little Helper.” (The latter term was first used to refer to the tranquilizers prescribed to women in the mid-20th century to deal with the challenges of motherhood.)

To alcohol companies, Dr. Jernigan said, women are a market.

The trend toward female-focused advertising is not surprising given the rise in women’s socioeconomic status, says Linda Tuncay Zayer, a professor of marketing at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. Advertisements linking alcohol with sophistication, elegance and sociability have become commonplace. “It’s positioned as a way to pamper, escape and relax,” Dr. Zayer said.

Recently, Dr. Zayer noticed Anheuser-Busch using themes of female empowerment by tapping Halsey for its “Be A King” campaign. There’s also Kate Hudson’s new vodka brand, King St., that Dr. Zayer said uses a mix of the feminine aesthetic, star power and female entrepreneurship to sell its brand.

During the pandemic, she said, alcohol was thrust into the limelight as the silver bullet for emotional management. As stress increased, so did the wine memes. “It’s supposed to be funny, but it can really make light of excessive drinking,” Dr. Zayer said. “The wine-guzzling mom has become an acceptable form of self-care.”

The rush to court this market has spurred a number of products and trends, says Carol Emslie, the leader of the Substance Use research group within the School of Health and Life Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. She sees “pink, fluffy and sparkly” packaging, ads promoting wellness — most notably “low-calorie items” — and products positioned for any and all occasions. “Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day,” Ms. Emslie said, “it’s piggybacking onto everything, even International Women’s Day.”

The push for female consumers can even be seen in countries where women haven’t traditionally been part of a drinking culture. For the past few years, Bailey’s has held a Mother’s Day campaign in Nigeria, urging women to share the drink with their mothers. “Here, the love of your mother gets tied up with drinking together,” Ms. Emslie said, “and this, in a place where women haven’t historically drunk.”

Part of the issue is that for many women, the reason for drinking alcohol goes deeper than having a buzz, Ms. Emslie explained. They define themselves by what they drink and how they drink it. Through extensive research, Ms. Emslie found that women in their 30s and 40s often use alcohol as a “time out,” a demarcation point between work and home life as well as a way to transport themselves to a time before career pressures and household responsibilities. “They drink to bring back that sense of carefree youth, frivolity, fun and spontaneity,” she said, “to show their identity beyond what is associated with being a woman in midlife.”

“The alcohol industry is really super aware of this,” she said, noting that it is hyper-focused on messages that speak to those desires.

Lisa Hawkins, the senior vice president of public affairs for the Distilled Spirits Council, said in an email that it was reasonable and appropriate for spirits companies to develop and market products that appealed to their consumers’ tastes, preferences and lifestyle choices. “To suggest that women should be shielded from advertisements about legal products available in the marketplace because they are incapable of seeing an ad and behaving responsibly is patronizing and antiquated,” she wrote.

She added, “We encourage all adults who consume alcohol — men and women — to drink in moderation and follow the advice of the federal dietary guidelines.”

Dr. Zayer, however, said research had shown over and over that we underestimated the influence of advertising in our lives. “Not just women — it’s everyone,” she said. “Companies wouldn’t be spending all this money on it if it didn’t work.”

These days, it’s not only big companies that bombard women with advertisements. Holly Whitaker, the author of “Quit Like a Woman,” argues in her book that women themselves are the marketers now.

“We are marketing to one another,” she said in an interview. “When we post a picture of ourselves enjoying a Friday night in a bathtub with a glass of champagne, we are selling the idea that we have to use alcohol to enjoy ourselves.”

Ms. Whitaker points to cultural touchstones like Ina Garten mixing cocktails with the nonchalance of baking muffins and “Bad Moms,” the movie that works under the premise that moms, after all they do for everyone, deserve to get hammered. It’s not even about asking women to quit, she said, and more about “stepping back and asking why we have all decided to view a glass of ethanol as a reward?”

It is important to consider, given that the health effects on women are harsher than for men. Women metabolize and absorb alcohol differently, which leads to the onset of alcohol-related problems including, but not limited to, liver damage, heart disease and brain damage sooner and from smaller amounts of booze.

Although women still drink less than men, the gap has been narrowing. From 1999 to 2017, alcohol-related deaths among women jumped by 85 percent while alcohol use disorder — the inability to control drinking despite adverse consequences — rose by nearly 84 percent between 2002 and 2013. Liver disease is also rising among young women.

Despite the serious health tolls, experts say it is difficult to communicate the dangers of drinking to women, who have had a long, fraught history of fighting for bodily autonomy. A C.D.C. campaign introduced in 2016 to discourage drinking among women of childbearing age had swift and extreme backlash. “It was absolutely hostile: ‘How dare you tell us what to do with our bodies!’” Dr. Jernigan recalled, referring to many women’s response to the recommendation at the time.

What is even more troubling, says Thomas Babor, a professor of community medicine and public health at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, is that just like Big Tobacco, the alcohol industry has been far from transparent with its consumers, often going to lengths to obfuscate the truth about its health effects. Researchers writing in The Lancet posited there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume while other researchers have found that alcohol is responsible for at least 15 percent of breast cancer cases. And yet, Dr. Babor said, alcohol companies are known for practices like “pinkwashing” where they decorate their products in pink to convince consumers that they can help fight breast cancer by buying their goods.

“They are trying to appear as if they support breast cancer research,” he said, “when in fact, they are encouraging women to drink at levels that actually contribute to breast cancer.”

The industry also continues to promote the idea that moderate drinking is good for our health, which, Dr. Babor says, it justifies by using old studies that are deeply flawed. “You don’t have to be an alcoholic,” he said — “risk for some 200 health conditions increases with each dose of alcohol you take.”

To turn the tide, Ms. Emslie, the alcohol researcher, is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 2:35 pm

Some more neighborhood photos

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I took these yesterday on a short walk to run an errand. I noticed one yard with some enormous thistles — one was about 11′ tall — that were not yet in bloom. I will be going back to see the bloom. There are (spiky) buds aplenty.

Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Daily life

Soybean & Kodo Millet Tempeh Done

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Here it is after 72 hours. What a difference 3 little days make! At above left, the final slab freshly removed from the bag (still in the bag at upper right). There’s a little sporing visible on the right edge; I cut that off and ate it in my breakfast.

The above photo at the lower right has some cut sections placed into a storage container. The cross section shows the components — soybeans, kodo millet, and the fungus mycelium — clearly. Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it. 

As a reminder, at right you see a photo at the very beginning, with the soybeans and the (unpolished) kodo millet in the bag, along with a little vinegar and the tempeh starter culture.

I had some for breakfasted, cooked with a couple of small tomatoes, some chopped red onion, Mexican oregano, some garlic powder, a little vinegar, fish sauce, and tamari. I had that with my Greens, Other Vegetables, and some walnuts.

I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 11:27 am

A 3-minute neck exercise routine to improve flexibility

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This looks good to me.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 10:28 am

Is there an uncontroversial way to teach America’s racist history?

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In Vox Sean Illing interviews James Givens, a professor of education at Harvard University:

If you follow politics at all, you’ve likely encountered phrases and terms such as “critical race theory” or “anti-racism” recently.

There’s a debate raging over the history and legacy of American racism and how to teach it in schools. The current iteration of this debate (and there have been many) stretches back to 2019, when the New York Times published the 1619 Project, but it evolved into a kind of moral panic in the post-Trump universe, in part because it’s great fodder for right-wing media.

The hysteria over critical race theory, or CRT, has now spilled beyond the confines of Twitter and Fox News. As I explored back in March, conservative state legislatures across the country are seeking to ban CRT from being taught in public schools.

There are lots of angles into this story, and frankly, much of the discourse around it is counterproductive. The main issue is that it’s not clear what these concepts mean, as tends to happen when ideas (à la postmodernism) escape the confines of academia and enter the political and cultural discourse.

Conservatives have appropriated critical race theory as a convenient catchall to describe basically any serious attempt to teach the history of race and racism. It’s now a prop in the never-ending culture war, where caricature and bad faith can muddy the waters. But the intensity of the debate speaks to a very real and difficult question: What’s the best and most productive way to teach the history of racism?

A few weeks ago, I read an essay in the Atlantic by Jarvis R. Givens, a professor of education at Harvard University and the author of Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching. Givens studies the history of Black education in America, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries.

His essay is mostly about the blind spots in the public discourse around race and education. But in it, he raises a point that seems overlooked: The uproar over CRT isn’t about anti-racist education itself — Black educators in Black schools have practiced that for more than a century. Rather, it’s about the form anti-racism takes in classrooms with white students. Teaching this history to Black students comes with its own complications, but we’re having this discussion because white parents are protesting and entire news outlets are obsessed with it.

So, I reached out to Givens to talk about why this conversation is so hard, how he responds to some of the criticisms of CRT, why he thinks it’s crucial to not get stuck with a single narrative of Black suffering, and why an honest attempt to teach the history of race in America is going to create a lot of unavoidable discomfort.

A transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.

Sean Illing

The term “anti-racism” has become so muddled that a lot of people probably have no idea what it means. How are you using it?

Jarvis R. Givens

It’s about teaching the history of racial inequality and the history of racism, to understand that it’s about more than individual acts of racism.

The idea is that students — and educators — should have a deep awareness of how racist ideas and practices have been fundamental in shaping our modern world. Students need to be able to have these discussions honestly so that new generations of students aren’t just aware of this history, but can also acknowledge and comprehend how our actions can disrupt those historical patterns or reinforce them.

But one thing I tried to do in my piece was remind people that anti-racist teaching isn’t new. We’ve been talking about it in public as though it’s this novel thing, and perhaps it’s because so much of this discussion is about how to teach white students, but for well over a century, Black teachers have been modeling an anti-racist disposition in their pedagogical practices. They recognized how the dreams of their students were at odds with the structural context in which they found themselves. And they had to offer their students ways of thinking about themselves that were life-affirming, despite a society that was physically organized in a way that explicitly told them they were subhuman.

Sean Illing

I don’t want to pass over what you just said about teaching white students, because that does seem to be what this is really about, and you can see it in the debate over “critical race theory.”

You gestured at the criticism I hear the most: that CRT (and, I guess by extension, “anti-racism” education) is built on an assumption that the study of racism has to be anchored to a commitment to undoing the power structure, which is seen as a product of white supremacy. To the extent that’s true, the complaint is that it’s not really an academic discipline or an approach to education — it’s a political ideology.

Jarvis R. Givens

I hear what you’re saying, and I’m not going to argue that there are no clear political commitments on the part of those scholars who gave us CRT. One thing I’d be interested to hear, however, is an alternative approach to teaching the history of America, or the history of anything, quite frankly, that doesn’t have an embedded set of political commitments.

Any approach to framing history is going to have some political commitments baked into the narrative. The choices we make about what to highlight or omit, all of that reflects certain values and biases. It’s just that we often take these for granted when it’s the “preferred” or “dominant” history.

In the end, I don’t see how you can completely remove politics from the work of education or the production of history. I don’t think it’s ever fully possible, and that’s something that isn’t usually acknowledged in these conversations.

Sean Illing

From your perspective, what’s missing from the current discourse around anti-racism education?

Jarvis R. Givens

The best educational models can teach us to recognize injustices, and they can cultivate a commitment to resisting those things, but equally important — and this is something Black educators have done for a long time in their own communities — is modeling other ways of being in the world, other ways of being in relationship to the world.

If you’re striving to create more justice in the world, you can’t do that if you’re only focusing on the things you’re trying to negate. You can’t just be “anti” whatever. You have to have some life-affirming vision that you can hold on to, a vision that’s more meaningful and points us in the direction of a better world. You have to teach people not just to resist injustice but to transcend it. This is what the Black educational models I’ve studied have always done, and it’s lost in so much of the debate about anti-racism and CRT today.

Sean Illing

Why is it so important to move beyond the “anti”?

Jarvis R. Givens

I think it’s important because . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 9:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, History

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I Coloniali Rhubarb shaving cream and the 1940s Gillette Aristocrat

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No longer made, this I Coloniali shaving cream is extremely nice stuff, and the G.B. Kent BK4, for all the fluffiness of the knot, had no trouble bringing up and holding the lather, particular after I added just a touch of water to the brush along the way. (I had shaken it pretty dry.)

Although Gillette’s 1940s Aristocrat is a handsome devil, and it shaves well enough, it has been outclassed in feel and performance by later razors — no real surprise. The design is now about 80 years old, and I’ve mentioned before how rapidly memes — cultural knowledge — evolve. Consider that the Wright brothers flew the first heavier-than-air aircraft on 13 Dec 1903 and the first human walked on the moon 20 July 1969 — that’s how much that meme — flying machines — evolved in a little less than 66 years. So, 80 years after the Aristocrat emerged, it’s small wonder we now have better razors.

Still, the Aristocrat is not a bad razor, and I got a good shave, which I ended with a splash of Southern Witchcraft’s Ashes of Death aftershave, which despite the name is quite a nice aftershave, unusual in that it contains clay.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 9:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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