Later On

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

Archive for June 27th, 2022

Wait for it: Practicing patience

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I think of patience as a skill, and like all skills, it must be acquired through practice. Once I had the paradigm shift of viewing patience as a skill and not a gift, I’ve tried practicing it when opportunity presents.

One tactic I have found to work: rather than attempting to suspend thought and activity as I wait, I look for things that pleasantly and productively fill the time.

One example: I fairly often find myself waiting for the kettle to boil and/or the tea to steep. Rather than standing in place, staring/glaring at kettle/teapot, I do various little tasks to fill the time. I empty ice-cube trays into the bin in the freezer and refill the trays; I put away clean dishes from the drainer; if any dishes are dirty, I wash them; I organize a cabinet shelf or two (depending on how much time I have), which both reduces cabinet chaos and reminds me what’s in there); I eat a piece of fruit; and so on.

This practice fills the time till the kettle boils or the tea’s ready, keeps me calm, and gets a few things done “for free” (using the time I would otherwise spend standing inert).

Rob Walker has a column in The Art of Noticing on where to find time for patience exercises (even for those who don’t drink tea). He writes:

I hate being late; it stresses me out.

I also used to hate being early — so frustrating to be stuck killing time waiting for someone else to show up. And, to be honest, I still look down on lateness; it’s rude!

But, I’ve tried to change my attitude toward waiting. I actually write about this a little bit in the book, when I mention artist Marina Abramović’s Goldberg. An excerpt:

In theory, the main event was a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, as played by Igor Levit. But to some extent the real attraction was the prelude. Attendees were required to arrive thirty minutes before the show and sit silently in the venue, wearing noise-canceling headphones. This was a sort of mental palate cleanser.

Doesn’t that sound kind of awesome? Couldn’t we all use a mental palate cleanser now and again?

Ever since I learned about this performance, I’ve tried to treat showing up early as, in fact, giving myself a tiny vacation. If whoever I’m meeting is late, well, my vacation gets slightly less tiny.

I was reminded of this in part by a  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 5:35 pm

‘An Invisible Cage’: How China Is Policing the Future

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Paul Mozur, Muyi Xiao, and John Liu have a frightening report (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times, which begins:

The more than 1.4 billion people living in China are constantly watched. They are recorded by police cameras that are everywhere, on street corners and subway ceilings, in hotel lobbies and apartment buildings. Their phones are tracked, their purchases are monitored, and their online chats are censored.

Now, even their future is under surveillance.

The latest generation of technology digs through the vast amounts of data collected on their daily activities to find patterns and aberrations, promising to predict crimes or protests before they happen. They target potential troublemakers in the eyes of the Chinese government — not only those with a criminal past but also vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities, migrant workers and those with a history of mental illness.

They can warn the police if a victim of a fraud tries to travel to Beijing to petition the government for payment or a drug user makes too many calls to the same number. They can signal officers each time a person with a history of mental illness gets near a school.

It takes extensive evasive maneuvers to avoid the digital tripwires. In the past, Zhang Yuqiao, a 74-year-old man who has been petitioning the government for most of his adult life, could simply stay off the main highways to dodge the authorities and make his way to Beijing to fight for compensation over the torture of his parents during the Cultural Revolution. Now, he turns off his phones, pays in cash and buys multiple train tickets to false destinations.

While largely unproven, the new Chinese technologies, detailed in procurement and other documents reviewed by The New York Times, further extend the boundaries of social and political controls and integrate them ever deeper into people’s lives. At their most basic, they justify suffocating surveillance and violate privacy, while in the extreme they risk automating systemic discrimination and political repression. . .

Continue reading (gift link, no paywall).

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 2:49 pm

What abortions bans do — and what the US will now start to see

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Two reports about the sort of things that happen when abortions are banned. One is from Ireland, the other from Malta.


Gretchen E. Ely, Professor of Social Work and Ph.D. Program Director, University of Tennessee, wrote in The Conversation:

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., the nation may find itself on a path similar to that trodden by the Irish people from 1983 to 2018.

Abortion was first prohibited in Ireland through what was called the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861. That law became part of Irish law when Ireland gained independence from the U.K. in 1922. In the early 1980s, some anti-abortion Catholic activists noticed the liberalization of abortion laws in other Western democracies and worried the same might happen in Ireland.

Various Catholic organizations, including the Irish Catholic Doctors’ Guild, St. Joseph’s Young Priests Society and the St. Thomas More Society, combined to form the Pro Life Amendment Campaign. They began promoting the idea of making Ireland a model anti-abortion nation by enshrining an abortion ban not only in law but in the nation’s constitution.

As a result of that effort, a constitutional referendum passed in 1983, ending a bitter campaign where only 54% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Ireland’s eighth constitutional amendment “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and [gave] due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”

This religiously motivated anti-abortion measure is similar to religiously oriented anti-abortion laws already on the books in some U.S. states, including Texas, which has a ban after six weeks of pregnancy, and Kentucky, which limits private health insurance coverage of abortion.

What happened over the 35 years after the referendum passed in Ireland was a battle to legalize abortion. It included several court cases, proposed constitutional amendments and intense advocacy, ending in 2018 with another referendum, re-amending the Irish constitution to legalize abortion up to 12 weeks gestation.

Real-life consequences

Even before 1983, people who lived in Ireland who wanted a legal abortion were already traveling to England on what was known as the “abortion trail”, as abortion was also criminalized in Northern Ireland. In the wake of the Eighth Amendment, a 1986 Irish court ruling declared that even abortion counseling was prohibited.

A key test of the abortion law came in 1992. A 14-year-old rape victim, who became pregnant, told a court she was contemplating suicide because of being forced to carry her rapist’s baby. The judge ruled that the threat to her life was not so great as to justify granting permission for an abortion. That ruling barred her from leaving Ireland for nine months, effectively forcing her to carry the pregnancy to term.

On appeal, a higher court ruled that the young woman’s suicidal thoughts were in fact enough of a life threat to justify a legal termination. But before she could have an abortion, she miscarried.

The case prompted attempts to . . .

Continue reading. It’s grim.

Later in the article:

In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, age 31 and 17 weeks pregnant, went to a hospital in Galway, Ireland. Doctors there determined that she was having a miscarriage. However, because the fetus still had a detectable heartbeat, it was protected by the Eighth Amendment. Doctors could not intervene – in legal terms, ending its life – even to save the mother. So she was admitted to the hospital for pain management while awaiting the miscarriage to progress naturally.

Over the course of three days, as her pain increased and signs of infection grew, she and her husband pleaded with hospital officials to terminate the pregnancy because of the health risk. The request was denied because the fetus still had a heartbeat.

By the time the fetal heartbeat could no longer be detected, Halappanavar had developed a massive infection in her uterus, which spread to her blood. After suffering organ failure and four days in intensive care, she died.

This sort of thing will now be happening the US in those states that are banning abortion.


On June 22, 2022, Megan Clement and Weronika Strzyżyńska reported in the Guardian:

Doctors have denied an American woman on holiday in Malta a potentially life-saving abortion, despite saying her baby had a “zero chance” of survival after she was admitted to hospital with severe bleeding in her 16th week of pregnancy.

Despite an “extreme risk” of haemorrhage and infection, doctors at the Mater Dei hospital in Msida told Andrea Prudente that they would not perform a termination because of the country’s total ban on abortion.

Prudente and her husband are seeking a medical transfer from Malta to the UK, which the couple say is their only option due to the risk to her life. They claim medical staff were uncooperative in their attempts to leave and in sharing medical records with the couple’s insurance company.

“I just want to get out of here alive,” Prudente told the Guardian from her hospital room in Malta’s capital, Valletta. “I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have thought up a nightmare like this.”

Activists in Malta say . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 2:44 pm

Sailing over the horizon, gastronomically speaking

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This was embedded in an earlier post, but as I thought about it, I realized it deserved its own post.

As I ate one of my whole-food plant-based meals this morning, I realized that, though it tasted very good and had good mouthfeel with a variety of texture in each bite, it also did not taste like any dish familiar from my earlier life. In my pre-WFPB past, much of what I ate had familiar tastes: meatloaf, for example, or a hamburger, or green beans (cooked in various ways), or roast chicken, or lasagna, or cheese, or a cake.

But the dishes I cook now, with some exceptions (such as tempeh chili or tempeh curry) really don’t taste or resemble dishes from my omnivorous past. They include more variety (influenced by Greger’s Daily Dozen and Heber’s palette of colorful foods), and that variety results in dishes like the one I cooked yesterday and ate a portion of just now. That dish includes kale cooked a few days ago, scallions and a BBQ/spring onion, mushrooms, chana-dal-and-barnyard-millet tempeh, purple potato (cut into chunks and roasted in convection oven, then chilled overnight; and a few pieces of it diced for this), a couple of red cayenne peppers chopped, walnuts, fresh asparagus, yellow bell pepper, minced fresh ginger root, apple-cider vinegar, and tamari, plus some sliced avocado on top. That dish doesn’t have a name, but it is very good.

I like its taste and textures and mouthfeel and chewiness, but the tastes were not those from a familiar dish of the past — and that unfamiliarity, that novelty, is something I enjoy. In general, I’m a novelty seeker, and unfamiliar foods are tempting. If I go to a restaurant, I look over the menu to find something I’ve not previously had. Gastronomically speaking, I’m not in Kansas any more.

So one thing I like about this diet is that following the general framework of Greger’s Daily Dozen and Heber’s color palette of foods, I generally arrive at a taste — or combination of tastes — that is both new and good.

But while the comfort of familiar dishes — their aromas and tastes — are appealing to most (including me), some really do not like to try new foods and find novel tastes displeasing if not repulsive. These, I imagine, will have trouble fully embracing a whole-food plant-based diet simply because much of it is unfamiliar.

Indeed, you can easily find on the internet thousands of vegan recipes that attempt to recreate some non-vegan dish, and supermarkets display entire shelves of highly processed packaged vegan food products that promise to mimic the taste and texture of foods familiar from the purchasers’ pre-vegan days: “beef” patties, “sausage,” “hot dogs,” “cheese,” “yogurt,” “sour cream,” “mayonnaise,” and so on.

I think such food products (which a whole-food diet excludes because they are highly processed and in general made from refined ingredients) are limiting because they encourage  one to stick with tastes tried before, and by making it easy, they encourage one to avoid encountering interesting and unfamiliar taste/mouthfeel possibilities that a colorful whole-food plant-based diet can offer. OTOH, such mass-produced food products do provide the familiar culinary landscape that some deeply crave (along with excellent profits to the manufacturers). Those who buy these imitation foods are people who want to change their diet without changing their diet.

Rather than trying to find imitations of former dishes, I now find myself venturing farther from the familiarities of my old diet and fully enjoying this new terrain.

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 2:09 pm

3 days and done, but so-so tempeh

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Beluga lentils and unpolished foxtail millet tempeh

This batch (the full story) had a few problems, though it is all edible. The photo above shows the good part of the batch, which is most of it.

After 3 days, before cutting

As you can see at the right, the slab had some spots that are cosmetically challenged. The dark spots in the middle are sporing — you’ll see at the right and left edges other places where sporing occurred.

Sporing doesn’t affect edibility, but for the sake of appearance, I try to avoid it — unsuccessfully, this time.

The other problem is that strip along the top not covered by mycelium. I think that also is edible, but it’s spongy and lacks the rigid solidity of the main slab. I might discard that bit — or I might cook it to see what it’s like.

As always, the very pale white areas toward either edge of the slab are due to defective lighting. The actual slab color is uniform over the whole are and is the color of the middle part in the photo.

I’ll keep trying to figure out what causes the problem at the top of the bag.

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 1:41 pm

Hollyhock dressing reprised and revised, with modest lunch

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I do like Hollyhock salad dressing, but of course I must tinker with it. This time I added to the original recipe:

• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• about 1/2″ ginger root, sliced thin and julienned

The ginger root is blended, but I wanted to give the blender a head start. I thought of adding it because I have on hand some particularly fresh and juicy ginger root, and ginger and garlic are boon companions. (Garlic is part of the original recipe.)

I used a 1-pint canning jar to hold this batch, and there was a little left over — about 2 tablespoons, in fact. So I used it in a quick, plain, and simple lunch where I put into bowl::

• about 1 cup cooked kale and companions
• about 1 cup chilled steamed broccoli
• about 1/2 cup chilled cook unpolished barnyard millet
• 2 tablespoons walnuts
• 1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground

I poured over that the Hollyhock dressing that didn’t fit into the pint jar, tossed it, and have a good lunch (albeit missing Beans). Very tasty.

Update: Things I should have added but didn’t think of at the time:

• 1/3 cup frozen peas (that would have met the Bean requirement)
• 4 stalks fresh asparagus, chopped (I like asparagus raw as well as cooked)
• 3 thick scallions, chopped (including leaves)
• 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 1 San Marzano tomato, chopped
• some Spicy Avocado-Lime-Cilantro sauce I made yesterday (using 3 red cayenne peppers)

Hah! I just made a salad for later, with all of the above plus

• 1 large jalapeño, chopped
• thin wedge red cabbage, chopped

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 12:10 pm

Things that help with rehab and recovery: Art therapy and Music therapy

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Rehabilitation and recovery from drug addiction requires addressing issues of physical dependency and physical health, but to recover from any addiction — or even just to change a deeply ingrained destructive habit (like poor dietary habits, poor money management, poor anger management) —  one also must change their paradigm or worldview. This may involve reconstructing or regaining a worldview one previously had, or — not unlikely — building a new and constructive worldview by shifting one’s paradigm — their view of how the world works.

Our behavior is largely shaped by how we perceive the world and how it works, so to change our behavior permanently, we must bring about a paradigm shift in how we view the world (as Stephen Covey pointed out in his method). If we fail to change our perceptions, and instead believe willpower alone will be sufficient, we’re likely to fail.

An analogy: If a road is designed for high-speed driving — wide lanes with wide, clear shoulders, excellent visibility, and gentle grades and curves — then posting a sign specifying a low speed limit will have no effect at all. People will drive fast because the road’s design encourages fast driving. If the goal is for drivers to drive slowly, then then the road must be designed to encourage slow driving — that is, the road must be designed so that drivers want to drive slow.

The goal of therapy is to help a person restructure their view of the world. Art therapy and music therapy are two comfortable approaches to that restructuring. I recently received an email from The Recovery Village in Florida that pointed out their web resources, and in particular these two pages:

Although their focus is on recovery from drug addiction, I believe that the same sort of approaches have much broader application, since most of us struggle to some degree with things in our character and habits that we see as holding us back or damaging us in some way — for example, in damaging our relationships with others (at work, at home, in our social lives, whatever).

Rather than passively observing our problems, we can (and should) become active in finding solutions. The Covey method linked above is one way, but art therapy and music therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy is another.

The key is to find some approach that helps restructure one’s worldview in such a way that good actions and habits are encouraged.

UPDATE: Another approach is to use the development of artisanal skills as a way of recovery and reconstruction of identity, as discussed in this post.

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 10:09 am

How Big Sugar Undermines Dietary Guidelines

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In the video, Dr. Greger references an article in the NY Times, A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World” (gift link, no paywall). That article (from three years ago) begins:

When the Indian government bowed to powerful food companies last year and postponed its decision to put red warning labels on unhealthy packaged food, officials also sought to placate critics of the delay by creating an expert panel to review the proposed labeling system, which would have gone far beyond what other countries have done in the battle to combat soaring obesity rates.

But the man chosen to head the three-person committee, Dr. Boindala Sesikeran, a veteran nutritionist and former adviser to Nestle, only further enraged health advocates.

That’s because Dr. Sesikeran is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute, an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name that has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world.

Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 17 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food, and pharmaceutical industries.

The organization, which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the United States, has more recently expanded its activities in Asia and Latin America, regions that provide a growing share of food company profits. It has been especially active in China, India, and Brazil, the world’s first, second and sixth most populous nations.

In China, the institute shares both staff and office space with the agency responsible for combating the country’s epidemic of obesity-related illness. In Brazil, ILSI representatives occupy seats on a number of food and nutrition panels that were previously reserved for university researchers.

And in India, Dr. Sesikeran’s leadership role on the food labeling committee has raised questions about whether regulators will ultimately be swayed by processed food manufacturers who say the red warning labels would hurt sales.

“What could possibly go wrong?” Amit Srivastava, the coordinator of the advocacy group India Resource Center, asked sarcastically. “To have a covert food lobby group deciding public health policy is wrong and a blatant conflict of interest.” . . .

Continue reading (gift link, no paywall).

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 8:58 am

Eros and Strong ‘n Scottish

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If you don’t have an Omega Pro 48 (10048), consider getting one. It’s an amazingly good brush once you learn to use it — and once it’s broken in: for a week, soak it in hot water for a few minutes (easily done by wetting the knot thoroughly under the hot water tap and then letting the sopping wet brush rest on its base), then load it well with shaving soap, work up a lather in your palm, and then rinse the brush (with hot water until the water runs clear, then with cold water). Shake out excess water and let brush air-dry until the next morning.

After a week of that, the brush will be ready to use, and its performance will improve over the coming weeks of use. It is one of my favorite brushes, and for $17 it’s a steal.

This morning it worked up a terrific lather from another soap with a strong fragrance: Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish. The fragrance has a definite smoky tilt, and I thought I could detect a hint of Scotch whisky. Whatever it is, it’s strong but also appealing. Two years ago, I described it thus:

Strong ‘n Scottish really is strongly fragranced, in a good way for those who like raw weather of the moors with the smoke from the stills blowing past in the mist, with the warmth of a shot of Laguvulin in the belly.

Meißner Tremonia soaps generally contain clay, and this soap has two varieties:

Aqua, Stearic Acid, Cocos Nucifera oil*, Glycerin*, Potassium Hydroxide, Whisky, Orbignya Oleifera oil*, Sodium Hydroxide, Cedrus Deodora oil, Talc, Lanolin, Red Clay, Juniperus Oxycedrus wood tar, Citric Acid, Simmondsia chinensis oil*, Maris sal, Kaolin, Brown Clay

* Organic

I really was pleased with every aspect of the lather this morning, and that includes the Pro 48. 

My French Eros slant is a very good slant. If I maintain a good shaving angle, it is a lamb, smoothly and gently removing every trace of stubble with nary a problem, and so it was today.

A splash of Alt-Innsbruck, with its touch of menthol and with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel, and and I start the week with a fine shaving experience and excellent result.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Lavender Cream: “an exceptionally balanced black tea blend: the robust black tea base is rounded out with calming flavours and aromas of lavender and vanilla.”

Written by Leisureguy

27 June 2022 at 8:38 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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