Later On

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

Archive for June 1st, 2022

History of Romans, Year by Year

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Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 6:08 pm

The Next Big Addiction Treatment

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Brendan Borrell has an interesting — and important — article (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times, which includes an audio of the article. The article begins:

In recent years there has been a spate of research suggesting psychedelic drugs can help people manage mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, chronic pain or even eating disorders. But a growing body of data points to one as the leading contender to treat the intractable disease of substance abuse. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, has shown promise in limited early studies, not only in alcohol and harder drugs, but also nicotine — all of which resist long term treatment.

“The old rule of thumb is that one-third of people get better, one-third stay the same, and one-third continue to get worse,” said Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, a psychiatrist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine studying psilocybin-assisted therapy as a treatment for alcohol abuse. “What’s fascinating to me about this whole process is how many different kinds of experiences people can have, which ultimately help them make these profound changes in their behavior.”

Take Aimée Jamison, who several years ago wanted to kick her cigarette habit before her 50th birthday. Statistically speaking, Ms. Jamison’s chance of success wasn’t great. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55 percent of adult smokers tried to quit in 2018, but only 8 percent were successful.

Ms. Jamison, an investor who lives part-time in Boston, had heard about psychedelic therapies, but the drug is largely illegal for personal use. So, in the fall of 2018, she flew to Baltimore to participate in a clinical trial at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. When she had to abstain from nicotine for a day before a brain scan, she could barely sleep and called it “the most hellish 24 hours I’ve experienced.”

After three talk therapy sessions at the Hopkins clinic, she was given a single pill containing 30 milligrams of psilocybin, a relatively high dose. After swallowing the pill, she put on an eye-mask, lay on a couch and went on a psychedelic trip with two therapists nearby for the next five hours.

When her trip ended, she sat up and looked at the therapists. “Now, I understand why I smoked,” she said, “and I don’t need to do that anymore.”

Over the next couple months Ms. Jamison attended several more therapy sessions, but took no additional psilocybin. She hasn’t touched a cigarette in the years sinceAn early version of that study (in which participants had two or three psilocybin sessions)published in 2014, reported an 80 percent success rate in 15 smokers, compared with 35 percent typically observed in patients taking the leading conventional antismoking drug Chantix.

Buoyed by such positive outcomes, the Hopkins study has expanded to include more participants, and, last year, the team received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

It’s still uncertain how effective using psilocybin to treat addiction is in the long-term and whether some individuals are more likely to benefit than others. Some study participants have had . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 5:52 pm

First try at fermenting mushrooms

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I’ve been wanting to try fermenting mushrooms, in part because of something Dr. Michael Greger said in one of his videos:

Researchers have since worked on characterizing these bacterial communities, and found two interesting things. First, that “the communities on each produce type were significantly distinct from one another.” So, the tree fruits harbored different bacteria than veggies on the ground, and grapes and mushrooms seemed to be off in their own little world. So, if indeed these bugs turn out to be good for us, that would underscore the importance of eating not just a greater quantity, but greater variety, of fruits and veggies every day.

Since I am fermenting the mushrooms without a starter culture, I presumably will be growing the unique bacterial population of mushrooms.

I had to wait until my supermarket had some really nice, fresh mushrooms available, and today was the day.

I used the first method in Clean Food Living’s video on fermenting mushrooms, submerging mushrooms in brine (using spring water, of course). She recommends using sprigs of rosemary for flavoring, but I had none, so I used slices of jalapeño. 

It’s a three-day ferment, so I’ll soon be able to see what they’re like.

72 hours later

The mushrooms shrunk a lot. I removed the fermentation weight and then consolidated the mushrooms and jalapeños in a single jar, discarding brine to make room. The color might be from mushroom spores and/or color bleached from the jalapeños.

I want to do this again sometime using sprigs of rosemary (as suggested in the video) instead of jalapeños. The taste, once the mushrooms were chilled, was light and clean and not particularly spicy — even the jalapeños had lost much of their heat. The mushrooms were extremely tender. 

It’s an easy ferment, but truthfully what it delivers is in proportion to the effort.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 2:50 pm

“The Acquisitive Society,” by R.H. Tawney

leave a comment » has listed their new (free) offering for June, and among them is The Acquisitive Society. They note:

“The faith upon which our economic civilization reposes, the faith that riches are not a means to an end but an end, implies that all economic activity is equally estimable whether it is subordinated to a social purpose or not.”

So states R. H. Tawney in this treatise on the difference between an Acquisitive Society, one guided purely by profits, and a Functional Society, one guided by professional motives. In the former—which is largely the world we live in today—businesses are concerned only with making profit for their owners, who have little or no connection to the industry they own, and high-quality service and efficient use of labor is at best only a pleasant byproduct. Tawney contrasts this view of society with the latter society, in which businesses are run by professionals instead of owners. In this scenario, professional considerations not related to financial profit would lead to better service and higher efficiency, as well as happier workers.

As an executive of the socialist Fabian Society, Tawney was considered one of the most influential historians of the early twentieth century, especially in politics, where he was a major contributor to the British Labour Party. His influence extended beyond Britain as well, and he has been credited with influencing the policies of Swedish Social Democrats.

Given the increasingly obvious failings of unfettered capitalism and an acquisitive society, the book seems likely to be of interest.

The free ebook can be downloaded in various formats, and if you import it into Calibre, an ebook-management app, you can convert formats from one to another (and then export it into your ebook reader).

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 11:36 am

State Laws Most Effective at Stopping Mass Shootings

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In Bloomberg, Linda Poon has an interview with Michael Siegel, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has studied the impact of gun laws on firearm violence. The entire interview is worth reading, but here are some extracts from the article and interview (emphasis added):

. . . “To be very honest, we have enough information right now to pass meaningful policy,” says Michael Siegel, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has studied the impact of gun laws on firearm violence. “To me, the main [barrier] is the political will, and why policymakers are not willing to stand up to the NRA.”

In 2020, while he was at Boston University, Siegel led a study looking specifically at the link between various types of local gun control laws that were in effect between 1976 and 2018,and the frequency and severity of mass public shootings (those that resulted in at least four victims and in which perpetrators killed indiscriminately in a public space). His team identified eight specific types of gun policies among the 89 laws, including assault weapon bans, large-capacity magazine bans, permit requirements, red-flag laws, universal background checks and laws prohibiting gun possession by people with a history of a violent misdemeanor crime.

Controlling for variables like socioeconomic factors and gun-ownership rates, the team concluded that two types laws have been most effective: State laws that require a permit to buy a firearm were linked to 60% lower odds of a mass public shooting happening, while a ban on large-capacity magazines could lower fatalities by 38% and nonfatal injuries by 77% when a mass shooting does take place. Siegel says these laws would be most effective when passed together, and ideally as part of a broader set of five basic gun policies.

. . . the first thing we looked at was what type laws are effective in preventing mass shootings from occurring in the first place. And the second aspect we looked at is, if an event does occur, are there laws that can be effective at reducing the number of casualties, specifically deaths? And we found that there were two laws that were effective, but they weren’t effective for the same thing.

Laws that require that people have a permit in order to own or purchase a gun were effective in reducing the occurrence of a mass shooting in the first place. The second law that was effective were limits on the magazine capacity — specifically laws that limit magazine capacity to fewer than 10 rounds in detachable magazines. Those were not effective in preventing mass shootings, but they were effective in reducing the number of casualties when a mass shooting occurs.

From previous research, we found that two of the most effective types of laws to prevent firearm homicide generally, [not just mass public shootings] were permit laws and universal background checks. It is not surprising the same set of policies that make it much more difficult for criminals, essentially, to get weapons are, are laws that are going to be effective both in reducing firearm homicide and mass shootings in particular.

So in a sense, there really isn’t a difference. The only difference really was specifically related to the number-of-casualty piece of mass shootings, the magazine limits do come into play. Because, you know, if you walk in with a 30-round magazine, you can shoot 30 rounds before you have to reload.

. . . What we really need is what I would call a suite of basic policies. In other words, not one policy, but a set of policies that all work together to cover different aspects of the problem. And my conclusion from what we have available now is that there are five baseline policies that every state should have.

Those are basically the three that we’ve talked about: a permitting mechanism, universal background check, and a limit on the magazine capacity. Number four is a law that basically says that anyone who has committed a violent crime — we don’t care what level it is — cannot access a gun. Not just a felony crime, but also a misdemeanor crime because federal law already prohibits people who committed a felony from possessing a gun. The problem is that there are a lot of violent crimes that just don’t rise to the felony level. For example, a lot of domestic violence crimes are just prosecuted as misdemeanors. [Interestingly, policed departments strongly oppose this law because many police officers are prone to domestic violence. – LG] A lot of crimes — somebody threatened to kill someone, or cyber harassment or stalking — are misdemeanors.

Then the fifth law that every state should have is a red flag law, or an extreme risk protection order law. That is so important because in most mass shootings, there is some warning sign that the perpetrator has given. It’s almost always the case that there was some history of threatened violence or planned violence. The red flag law allows law enforcement to take action when there is credible evidence that somebody does pose risk, and that may or may not be taking their gun away, but at the very least there’s an investigation and a court hearing that bring this to the attention of the authority so that it doesn’t sneak under the radar.

Interestingly, one law turns out to be not effective:

It may seem kind of counterintuitive or surprising, but laws that ban assault weapons don’t seem to have any impact. I think what we learned from our research is, it’s not the what, or the type of weapon; it’s the who — who has the weapons. The most important aspect of firearm policy based on our researching is having the most sensitive and specific criteria for what types of people are the most at risk, and keeping guns out of their hands. The bottom line is that there’s nothing special about an assault weapon that allows it to be more lethal in, for example, a school shooting situation. What does have an effect is the magazine capacity.

The other problem with assault weapon bans is that they’re not supported by most gun owners. Gun owners are concerned about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals or potential criminals. So the beauty of our findings is that the types of laws that we’re finding as most effective are precisely the kind of laws that gun owners support. I mean, most gun owners view gun ownership as a responsibility.

There’s really only one barrier, and that’s that a lot these lawmakers are afraid of the NRA.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 10:52 am

I Coloniali rhubarb-based shaving cream and the Lupo

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Some soaps and creams have ingredients that capture one’s attention and imagination: duck fat, lamb tallow, bison tallow, emu oil, and the like. Rhubarb as a shaving cream ingredient appealed to me, and the shaving cream fulfilled the promise. Alas, i Coloniali no longer makes a shaving cream, but I still have a good part of a tube — and once again I easily got a wonderful lather from the pink shaving cream.

The Lupo (I almost wrote “Lobo” — right animal, wrong language) is a very nice razor — lots of blade feel, but doesn’t nick and is very efficient. If I could make one change it would be to square the rounded ends, which make it almost impossible to stand the razor on its side. (For the photo, the razor is held upright by the Amici brush and the tube of shaving cream.)

A splash of La Toja Hombre aftershave (with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel) and I’m ready for a new day and a new month.

The tea today 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

1 June 2022 at 8:36 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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