Later On

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Archive for May 11th, 2022

Chickpea and black rice tempeh

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The batch is begun. At right, the chickpeas after cooking, drying and cooling on a clean towel. The darker area to the right is my shadow.

Above, the mixed batch — 2 cups of chickpeas and 2 cups of black rice, measured before cooking — cooked, mixed, cooled, Rhizopus oligosporus starter culture mixed in, and bagged in a large Ziploc Fresh Produce bag, which is perfectly perforated for tempeh cultivation.

I’m a little apprehensive about this batch because black rice is considerably stickier than cooked intact whole grain wheat, barley, or rye. Also, this is the largest batch I’ve made. If it works, this will be the regular size from now on: 4 cups, measured before cooking (beans/lentils and often grain). The bag is now on the raised rack in my tempeh incubator, and I’m not going to look at it until 11:00am tomorrow.

My general post on making tempeh is worth reading if you are thinking of growing this delicious and highly nourishing food yourself. Homegrown tempeh costs much less than purchased (and pasteurized) tempeh, and you can also make interesting combinations you cannot buy — this combination, for example.

19 hours later

After 19 hours

Well, I couldn’t wait for 24 hours. The photo at right shows the batch at 19 hours, and as you see, the mold is well established. (Click photo to enlarge.) At 24 hours, this will definitely come out of the incubator and continue on a raised rack on the table, since room temperature will be fine given the heat Rhizopus generates once it’s going.

Notice that the mold is pretty evenly distributed. That’s because I added the culture a little at a time, and after each small addition mixed the batch well. With the culture evenly distributed, so is its growth.

In my early attempts I didn’t mix so well, so early growth was spotty, but the mold will gradually spread, so it’s not a serious problem. But I do like to see even growth, for aesthetic reasons if nothing else.

Update: I brought it out at 24 hours and it’s now resting on a raised rack on the table. 

Progressing slowly at 48 hours

After 48 hours

I think the slow progress is due to the density of the rice. Next time I will reduce the ratio of rice to beans from 1:1 to 1:2 or even 1:3. But it is progressing, so I am confident that after another 24 hours the mycelium will cover the mass. I will then probably give it another day.

I do like using a grain with the beans when making tempeh, but clearly here’s a lesson learned: if the grain is rice, let the beans have the greater share of the batch. I don’t think that is true of less sticky grain — my next batch I will use pinto beans and intact whole-grain khorasan wheat, 2 cups of each (measured before cooking) and see how that does.

I weighed the slab this morning: 3 lb 10 oz, or just over 1.6kg. I’m eager to try this, plus I’m going to use the last of my green-lentil tempeh today, so I’m hoping it moves along briskly.

After 72 hours

After 72 hours

At 72 hours there’s more coverage, but it’s slow going. Still, the progress made offers hope that a longer time will lead to complete coverage. Room temperature this morning was 72ºF so I returned the slab to the incubator box and covered it for an hour or so — no power to the heater. Since the slab is generating a fair amount of heat by itself, I just let the slab warm the interior of the box.

The slab’s out again, and I am going to let the mycelium develop for another 24 hours, which will be four days, and then take stock. 

I have learned a valuable lesson on the use of rice in tempeh. Black rice is a short-grain rice. I wonder whether a long-grain brown rice would work better. I’ll have to try that. I think wild rice would be interesting as well, though that, while a grain, is not really a rice. Minnesota wild rice, harvested by traditional methods, is very good; cultivated wild rice is tough.

After 96 hours

After 96 hours — 4 days — the middle section is still not covered, though somewhat colonized. 

I’ve never gone 5 days, but this batch seems to require it, so I decided to continue for one more day. 

The day saw an ongoing light rain, and the temperature in the apartment hovered around 70-72ºF, so I occasionally returned the slab to the incubator and put the lid on. No power was needed to warm the interior — the tempeh itself at this point is generating a fair amount of heat. I thought perhaps some time in the warmth might encourage the mycelium. 

When the slab felt rewarmed, I returned it (with the raised rack) to the tabletop. 

After 120 hours — 5 days

Above is the slab, freed of the bag, after 5 days. The top of the bag was along the right side of the photo, and as you see, the top and a section in the middle never took hold. I continue to blame the density of the black rice. It would have been better if the ration of black rice to chickpeas had been smaller (less rice, more chickpeas).

Above is the cross-section. I have butchered the block now and put into glass storage containers, and placed those in the refrigerator. Although the batch is — how shall I say? — cosmetically imperfect, I think it will be edible, and it is, of course a valuable lesson learned. 

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 11:14 am

The Strange Afterlife of George Carlin

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Dave Itzkoff has a good NY Times article on George Carlin (gift link, no paywall). It begins:

In the closing monologue from a recent episode of his HBO talk show, Bill Maher cataloged a series of social conditions that he suggested were hampering stand-up comedy and imperiling free speech: cancel culture, a perceived increase of sensitivity on college campuses, and Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Near the end of his remarks, Maher invoked the comedian George Carlin, a personal hero whose iconoclastic spirit, he seemed to believe, could never thrive in such a thin-skinned and overly entitled era. “Oh, George,” he said, “it’s a good thing you’re dead.”

Carlin, the cantankerous, longhaired sage who used his withering insight and gleefully profane vocabulary to take aim at American hypocrisy, died in 2008. But in the years since, it can feel like he never really left us.

On an almost daily basis, parts of Carlin’s routines rise to the surface of our discourse, and he is embraced by people who span the political spectrum — they may rarely agree with each other, but they are certain that Carlin would agree with them.

Carlin’s rueful 1996 routine about conservatives’ opposition to abortion (“they will do anything for the unborn, but once you’re born, you’re on your own”) became a newly viral phenomenon and was shown on a recent broadcast of the MSNBC program “11th Hour.” A video clip of a Carlin bit about how Americans are ravenous for war (“so we’re good at it, and it’s a good thing we are — we’re not very good at anything else anymore!”) has been tweeted by Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota. On the right-wing website Breitbart, Carlin has been cited as an expert on bipartisanship (“the word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”) and hailed as a rebel who didn’t acquiesce to authority.

Carlin is a venerated figure in his chosen field who unites performers as disparate as Joe Rogan and Jim Gaffigan, but he’s also someone whose influence transcends comedy. He is a touchstone shared by . . .

Continue reading (gift link, no paywall).

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Memes, Politics

Trust in science has become increasingly partisan

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It is difficult for people to trust what they do not understand, and Republicans, with their rejection of education and embrace of ignorance, do not understand science much at all, plus their leaders fervently advocate a distrust of science. And to exacerbate the problem, those who do understand the science fail to understand how to communicate effectively. The result is shown in the graph above, taken from an interesting article by Monica Potts in FiveThirtyEight, which begins:

By September 2021, the scientists and staffers at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had gathered enough data to know that the trees in its green-tree reservoirs — a type of hardwood wetland ecosystem — were dying. At Hurricane Lake, a wildlife management area of 17,000 acres, the level of severe illness and death in the timber population was up to 42 percent, especially for certain species of oak, according to a 2014 forest-health assessment. The future of another green-tree reservoir, Bayou Meto, more than 33,000 acres, would look the same if they didn’t act quickly.

There were a lot of reasons the trees were dying, but it was also partly the commission’s fault. Long ago, the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers and their tributaries would have flooded the bayous naturally, filling bottomland forests during the winter months when the trees were dormant and allowing new saplings to grow after the waters receded in the spring. Widespread European settlement and agriculture largely halted the natural flooding, but in the 1950s, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began buying bottomland forests for preservation, which it then flooded with a system of levees and other tools.

This made the forests an ideal winter stop for ducks to eat and rest on their annual migration south. Arkansas is a magnet for duck hunters, and the state has issued more than 100,000 permits for duck hunters from Arkansas and out of state for every year since 2014. But it turned out the commission was flooding the reservoirs too early and at levels too high, which was damaging the trees. The ducks that arrive in Arkansas especially love eating the acorns from a certain species of oak — and those oaks are now dying.

Austin Booth, director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, knew that convincing the state’s duck hunters and businesses that there was a serious problem would be tricky. Part of the solution the commission planned to propose to save the trees involved delaying the annual fall flooding, which could mean less habitat for the ducks, fewer ducks stopping in the area and more duck hunters crowded into smaller spaces fighting over targets.

And all the duck hunters would have their own ideas about who to blame for the problem and what the solution should be.

Last September, Booth gave a brief speech that was streamed live on YouTube, outlining the problem. He announced a series of public meetings to begin in the following months. Booth told me that when he began to plan those meetings, he thought of all the government meetings and town halls he’d attended after years working in politics. “I wanted to ratchet down some of the intensity that happens when a government official stands up on a stage and talks down to people,” he said.

Instead, he decided the meetings would be dinners where the Game and Fish staff would eat alongside the people they sought to convince. “I just believe there’s a human component to sitting down and having a meal with someone,” he said. At those dinners, he’d give a brief introduction, then invite people to ask questions of the staff as they ate and mingled. 

At the end of the dinners, Booth said he’d stand up again and ask, “Is there anyone that’s going to walk through that door tonight without their questions answered or comments taken for the record, or with their concerns ignored?” No one, he said, came forward. The four dinners were attended by between 50 and 100 people, according to Booth, but those attendees then spread the word, dampening criticism of the new management system.

What’s interesting about this dinner program is that it began during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also required effective science communication to convince the public to accept changes, major and minor, to their lives. Even before this pandemic, there’s been a long history of resistance to public health measures and new vaccines, and many researchers suspected that could likely be the case with COVID-19 as well. The social scientists who study these issues might have counseled an approach like that employed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, using local messengers who had relationships with the communities in question and who could communicate in less intimidating ways.

But the U.S. did not do that with COVID-19. Instead, rapidly changing information came from only a few sources, usually at the national level and seemingly without much strategy. And as such, many places have seen widespread resistance to public health interventions, like wearing masks and getting the vaccine. 

The intensely local, personal way that Arkansas Game and Fish approached this challenge is difficult, time-consuming and perhaps not always the most practical. But it shows the kind of intensity it takes to communicate an urgent problem, and may provide lessons for how to approach the next big problems — whether that’s another pandemic, an ecological disaster or something bigger and more existential, like climate change.

Before the pandemic, Matthew Motta, a political science professor at Oklahoma State University, and his colleagues Timothy Callaghan, Steven Sylvester, Kristin Lunz Trujillo and Christine Crudo Blackburn studied parents’ hesitancy about giving their kids routine vaccinations, like those for measles, mumps and rubella. Reasons varied, and the most prominent was conspiratorial thinking.1 Some parents who delayed their children’s vaccines also held strong ideas about . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 9:42 am

Lavender morning

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Mike’s Natural Hungarian Lavender has a great fragrance — and makes a great lather, this morning with the able assistance of my Whipped Dog 22mm silvertip, whose knot is set at the standard depth. Three passes of the Vikings Blade Chieftain easily removed every trace of stubble — and if you want a twist-to-open razor, this is an excellent choice at a very reasonable price.

A splash of D.R. Harris Old English Lavender Water, augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel, and I’m ready for the day — which today begins with starting a new batch of tempeh, this time chickpea and black rice.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Anniversary Blend: “The combination of Assam, Keemun, Ceylon, Yunnan and Gunpowder single origin teas produces an expansive cup with light briskness, full mouth feel and a rich amber hue.”

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 8:51 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Great report on helping strangers and how much it can mean to them

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CNN had an intriguing report by Catherine E. Shoichet on a stranger’s gift — and a follow-up at a link. The report begins:

Ayda Zugay isn’t someone who normally likes to save things.

The walls of her Boston home are bare. She keeps a small bag packed with essential items in case she ever needs to leave quickly.

But for more than two decades, she’s held onto an envelope that she hopes will help her unravel a mystery.

Zugay says she was a nearly 12-year-old refugee fleeing the former Yugoslavia with her older sister when a stranger handed them the envelope on a flight to the United States in 1999. The woman made them promise not to open it until they got off the plane.

The girls were later shocked to discover dangly earrings and a $100 bill inside.

A note scribbled on the outside of the envelope is signed with only a first name — Tracy. And for almost a decade, Zugay says she’s been trying to find her.

She wants Tracy to know how much the gift meant. She imagines that to Tracy, or to others hearing the story, the envelope might seem like a small gesture.

But Zugay says that to her and her sister, who was 17 at the time, it was so much more than a momentary act of generosity.

That money, she says, helped feed them for an entire summer while the two girls scraped by staying with their brother, who was a college student in Iowa. And it’s still shaping the way both sisters live their lives 23 years later.

Zugay has looked at the envelope for clues, chased down leads, dealt with doubts and hit dead ends. She’s reached out to hotels, airlines and tour companies. She’s talked with reporters and posted on Reddit.

But so far, she says she hasn’t found Tracy. So she’s trying to cast a wider net.

Several refugee advocacy organizations . . .

Continue reading. At the link, a good outcome.

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 4:51 am

Posted in Daily life

Mothers’ Day: The backstory to Mother’s Day

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Heather Cox Richardson explains the history behind Mother’s Day:

If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.

The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or transformed into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away.

The women who had watched their men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons. The men who did come home were scarred in body and mind.

Modern war, it seemed, was not a game.

But out of the war also came a new sense of empowerment. Women had bought bonds, paid taxes, raised money for the war effort, managed farms, harvested fields, worked in war industries, reared children, and nursed soldiers. When the war ended, they had every intention of continuing to participate in national affairs. But the Fourteenth Amendment, which established that African American men were citizens, did not mention women. In 1869, women organized the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association to promote women’s right to have a say in American government.

From her home in Boston, Julia Ward Howe was a key figure in the American Woman Suffrage Association. She was an enormously talented writer, who had penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic in the early years of the Civil War, a hymn whose lyrics made it a point to note that Christ was “born of woman.”

Howe was drawn to women’s rights because the laws of her time meant that her children belonged to her abusive husband. If she broke free of him, she would lose any right to see her children, a fact he threw at her whenever she threatened to leave him. She was not at first a radical in the mold of reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, believing that women had a human right to equality with men. Rather, she believed strongly that women, as mothers, had a special role to perform in the world.

For Howe, the Civil War had been traumatic, but that it led to emancipation might justify its terrible bloodshed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was another story. She remembered:

“I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?”

Howe had a new vision, she said, of . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 4:21 am

The AMA’s Little-Known Committee that Sets Physician Service Prices

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An interesting article on a source of bias in the medical profession that undermines the supply of general practitioners. Merrill Goozner writes in the Washington Monthly:

The request seemed innocuous enough. Last week, I asked the American Medical Association if I could attend a meeting of the committee that largely determines the relative pay of various medical specialties.

The Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) meets three times a year to consider changes and additions to the “relative value” of more than 10,000 billing codes in the Medicare physician fee schedule. Each year, in a textbook example of what economists call agency capture, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sets physician service prices based almost entirely on the RUC’s recommendations, which systematically overweight technical skills like surgery and underweight the cognitive skills used in primary care. The RUC’s 32-person roster includes one voting member for each of the 27 medical specialties recognized by the AMA.

The results are one of the primary roadblocks to achieving better health at lower costs from America’s wildly overpriced health care system – the dearth of primary care physicians. Orthopedic surgeons and invasive cardiologists wind up earning, on average, over $600,000 a year. In comparison, family physicians and pediatricians earn around $250,000, according to the latest Modern Healthcare survey of physician compensation consulting firms (subscription required). The spread between the highest and lowest paid doctors has gone up by nearly $75,000 over the past decade — despite the AMA’s insistence that it is taking steps to redress an imbalance that discourages more young doctors from entering primary care.

The AMA’s public relations official, someone I’ve known for a long time, said he’d check if I could attend. A few hours later, he informed me via email that registrations for the meeting had closed two weeks earlier, and I needed to apply for media credentials at least a month in advance. Moreover, I would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent me or any other reporter from writing about “proprietary information” discussed at the meeting.

Since votes placing values on individual services are based on detailed surveys conducted by the various medical specialty societies of their memberships, virtually everything discussed at the meetings is proprietary. It’s no wonder not a single reporter attended last week’s meeting, the first to discuss the 2024 physician fee schedule.

Well, what about the recommendations for the 2023 physician fee schedule, whose first draft will be issued by CMS this summer? Could I at least get access to the minutes of the January meeting when those recommendations were made?

No dice. The website RUC’s recommendations won’t be released until the proposed 2023 rule comes out this summer, the spokesperson said.

Books have been written about how the AMA’s RUC distorts the Medicare fee schedule, which serves as the baseline for physician payments made by commercial insurers and their insured patients. Those rates range from 10% to 230% higher than Medicare’s rates, according to a recent Urban Institute study, and reflect the rigged nature of the system. Commercial rates for cognitive specialties like family medicine and psychiatry are barely above the CMS-set rates. In contrast, high-priced specialties like radiology, neurosurgery, and anesthesiology can be more than three times as high.

High-priced specialties’ control over physician prices contributes to America having the highest prices for medical care in the world and undermines value-based care. “We should be concerned about  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 4:06 am

How does Starlink work? Are the Ukrainians thrilled with it?

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Very interesting post by Kevin Drum on the efficacy of Starlink in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2022 at 3:49 am

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