Later On

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

Archive for August 19th, 2022

Psilocybin microdosers display mental health improvement during 1 month period compared to non-microdosers

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I’m game.  Patricia Y. Sanchez writes in PsyPost:

Psilocybin, the active compound in “magic mushrooms,” has been shown to be a promising treatment for various mental health issues. New research published in Scientific Reports found that people who microdose psychedelics displayed greater improvements in mental health and mood over the span of 1 month compared to non-microdosers.

Most of the research on psilocybin treatment has focused on doses that are large enough to contribute to a substantial alteration of one’s consciousness. However, “microdosing,”or taking a small enough dose of psilocybin to not impair cognitive functioning, has become increasingly popular.

“Improvements in mood, emotional well-being and cognition have been reported among the top motivations for microdosing, and several cross-sectional studies have identified associations between microdosing and perceived improvements in mood and cognitive functioning, reductions in stress, depression, and anxiety,” wrote study author Joseph M. Rootman and colleagues.

Relatively fewer studies have investigated the effects of microdosing and these studies have not included a non-microdosing control group, which is essential in evaluating any causal effects of microdosing. To address this gap, researchers collected data from respondents participating in a larger study of psychedelic microdosing.

“The study consisted of . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 4:45 pm

Why Hitler and Stalin Hated Esperanto

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Joshua Holzer, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Westminster College, writes at The Conversation:

In the late 1800s, the city of Białystok – which was once Polish, then Prussian, then Russian, and is today again part of Poland – was a hub of diversity, with large numbers of Poles, Germans, Russians and Yiddish-speaking Ashkanazi Jews. Each group spoke a different language and viewed members of the other communities with suspicion.

For years, L.L. Zamenhof – a Jewish man from Białystok who had trained as a doctor in Moscow – had dreamed of a way for diverse groups of people to communicate easily and peacefully.

On July 26, 1887, he published what is now referred to as “Unua Libro,” or “First Book,” which introduced and described Esperanto, a language he had spent years designing in hopes of promoting peace among the people of the world.

Esperanto’s vocabulary is mostly drawn from English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Polish, Russian and Yiddish, as these were the languages that Zamenhof was most familiar with. Grammatically, Esperanto was primarily influenced by European languages, but interestingly, some of Esperanto’s innovations bear a striking resemblance to features found in some Asian languages, such as Chinese.

Now, 135 years later, Europe is again riven by violence and tension, most notably by the war between Russia and Ukraine, which is at least partially driven by a political debate about language differences. Unfortunately, conflicts over language are common around the world.

The promise of peace through a shared language has not yet caught on widely, but there are perhaps as many as 2 million Esperanto speakers worldwide. And it’s still spreading, if slowly

A language for all

Having grown up in the multicultural but distrusting environment of Białystok, Zamenhof dedicated his life to constructing a language that he hoped could help foster harmony between groups. The goal wasn’t to replace anyone’s first language. Rather, Esperanto would serve as a universal second language that would help promote international understanding – and hopefully peace.

Esperanto is easy to learn. Nouns do not have grammatical gender, so you never have to wonder whether a table is masculine or feminine. There are no irregular verbs, so you don’t have to memorize complex conjugation tables. Also, the spelling is entirely phonetic, so you’ll never be confused by silent letters or letters that make different sounds in different contexts.

In “Unua Libro,” Zamenhof outlined Esperanto’s 16 basic rules and provided a dictionary. This book was translated into more than a dozen languages, and at the beginning of each edition, Zamenhof permanently renounced all personal rights to his creation and declared Esperanto to be “the property of society.”

Soon, Esperanto spread to AsiaNorth and South America, the Middle East and Africa. Starting in 1905, Esperanto speakers from around the world began gathering once a year to participate in the World Esperanto Congress to celebrate – and use – the language.

Between 1907 and his death in 1917, Zamenhof received 14 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, though he never won the award.

Continuing Zamenhof’s work, the Universal Esperanto Association, an organization that seeks to encourage relations among people through the use of Esperanto, has .. .

Continue reading. There’s more, including three videos. Here’s one:

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 4:42 pm

Japan wants young people to start drinking

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It’s true: the Japanese government is encouraging young people to drink more alcohol (gift link, no paywall). ??? Clearly the public-health sector has little influence in Japan — especially given the post earlier today.

To bolster its ailing alcohol industry, Japan’s National Tax Agency has kicked off a contest inviting those ages 20 to 39 to submit ideas for encouraging people to consume more alcohol. It named the project after the national beverage: “Sake Viva!”

If cigarette sales are down, I expect the government will launch a campaign to get young people to start smoking cigarettes.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 3:33 pm

Not quite chili

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I used my 12″ MSMK nonstick skillet, which I Evo-sprayed about six sprays, so about 1.5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil. Then I put into the skillet:

• 6 Russian red garlic cloves, chopped and rested; these are large but not so pungent
• about 1″ thick fresh ginger root, chopped small
• 2 small spring onions, chopped including leaves
• 1 bunch scallions, chopped including leaves
• 1 Stokes Purple® potato, diced rather small
• 3 large cremini mushrooms, sliced thick
• about 8 ounces Kamut and chana dal tempeh, diced fairly large (beans and grain)
• 2 heads baby bok choy (greens and also cruciferous vegetable)
• 2 teaspoons chipotle-garlic paste
• about 2 teaspoons dried spearmint
• about 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
• about 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• about 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile 
• about 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• about 3-4 tablespoons Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar
• good dash tamari
• 2 pinches MSG
• about 1 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke

I turned the induction burner to “3” and its timer to 8 minutes, covered the pan, and left it to cook. When the timer went off, I added:

• 18.3-oz can Aylmer Accents Tomatoes, Garlic and Olive Oil
• 1 diced lemon (large lemon but thin peel)

I mixed that well into the vegetables and tempeh in the pan, then turned burner to “3, timer to 10 minutes, cover the pan, and left it to cook.

I just had a bowl (which included 1 tablespoon flaxseed, freshly ground, and 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutritional yeast. It’s very tasty, in a chili-ish direction. 

I should have included minced turmeric root and ground black pepper. Perhaps I’ll add that when I warm it up for the next meal, cooking a while to soften the turmeric. — update: that’s what I did; good to get the turmeric in.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 3:10 pm

Russia’s spies misread Ukraine and misled Kremlin as war loomed

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Greg Miller and Catherine Belton have a very interesting report (gift link, no paywall) in the Washinton Post. It begins:

KYIV, Ukraine — In the final days before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s security service began sending cryptic instructions to informants in Kyiv. Pack up and get out of the capital, the Kremlin collaborators were told, but leave behind the keys to your homes.

The directions came from senior officers in a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) with a prosaic name — the Department of Operational Information — but an ominous assignment: ensure the decapitation of the Ukrainian government and oversee the installation of a pro-Russian regime.

The messages were a measure of the confidence in that audacious plan. So certain were FSB operatives that they would soon control the levers of power in Kyiv, according to Ukrainian and Western security officials, that they spent the waning days before the war arranging safe houses or accommodations in informants’ apartments and other locations for the planned influx of personnel.

“Have a successful trip!” one FSB officer told another who was being sent to oversee the expected occupation, according to intercepted communications. There is no indication that the recipient ever made it to the capital, as the FSB’s plans collapsed amid the retreat of Russian forces in the early months of the war.

The communications exposing these preparations are part of a larger trove of sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian and other security services and reviewed by The Washington Post. They offer rare insight into the activities of the FSB — a sprawling service that bears enormous responsibility for the failed Russian war plan and the hubris that propelled it.

An agency whose domain includes internal security in Russia as well as espionage in the former Soviet states, the FSB has spent decades spying on Ukraine, attempting to co-opt its institutions, paying off officials and working to impede any perceived drift toward the West. No aspect of the FSB’s intelligence mission outside Russia was more important than burrowing into all levels of Ukrainian society.

And yet, the agency failed to incapacitate Ukraine’s government, foment any semblance of a pro-Russian groundswell or interrupt President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hold on power. Its analysts either did not fathom how forcefully Ukraine would respond, Ukrainian and Western officials said, or did understand but couldn’t or wouldn’t convey such sober assessments to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The humiliations of Russia’s military have largely overshadowed the failures of the FSB and other intelligence agencies. But in some ways, these have been even more incomprehensible and consequential, officials said, underpinning nearly every Kremlin war decision.

“The Russians were wrong by a mile,” said a senior U.S. official with regular access to classified intelligence on Russia and its security services. “They set up an entire war effort to seize strategic objectives that were beyond their means,” the official said. “Russia’s mistake was really fundamental and strategic.”

Ukraine’s security services have . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Later in the article:

The FSB did not respond to requests for comment.


Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 2:43 pm

Soybean and Kamut® tempeh: A good batch

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Today’s batch is pretty pedestrian: 1.5 cups soybeans and 1.5 cups intact whole-grain Kamut® (organically raised khorasan wheat), measured before cooking and cooked separately. Here they are bagged in a Ziploc Fresh Produce bag, with 3 tablespoons of vinegar and a packet of tempeh culture starter added and mixed well to ensure the starter culture is evenly distributed. 

The batch is now in my incubator, where it will reside for 24 hours. Then it will probably be ready 48 hours after that. 

An earlier post describes in detail how to make tempeh and includes the guidelines that I’ve found to give the best chance of success — and in fact I’ve not had a failed batch since posting that method.

Click any photo to enlarge it.

1 day later

The first 24 hours has allowed the fungus to establish itself well, with the even growth showing that the starter culture was well mixed. At this point, the incubator box is not needed and is even somewhat undesired: continued high heat will induce sporting (black spots) that, though edible, are unsightly. And once the mycelium gets going, the batch throws off a lot of heat, so in a insulated box the temperature will rise sharply.

So at this point I move the batch to the tabletop, where it rests on a raised rack. Normally it will be read i two more days: Monday around noon, today being Saturday.

2 days later

The batch looks exceptionally good after 48 hours: thick, even mycelium growth and coverage and no sign of sporing. Some would stop the fermentation at this point, but I prefer to let it grow another day.

The slab is already fairly strong and rigid, but another 24 hours will improve that, and the mycelium will be thicker.

My diet includes having beans and (intact whole) grain at each meal, and dicing some of this tempeh and including it in a stir-fry or semi-chili will meet that requirement easily and deliciously.

Done after 3 days and 4 hours

On the left is the slab cut free of the bag, and on the right is a cross-section view as I cut the slab to put it into storage containers to refrigerate. This batch did exceptionally well — lovely smooth, velvety mycelium totally coating the slab with no trace of sporing. The slab at the end was warm, solid, and with good rigidity. The last-day post also has a photo of the slab in the bag.

I don’t think I’ve made a better batch than this one, and my timing was perfect. On Thursday as I cut a section from the previous batch (chana dal and Kamut), I thought it was time to start a new batch, so I soaked 1.5 cups of soybeans overnight. On Friday, I cooked those and (separately) 1.5 cups of Kamut, then put them, bagged, into the incubator. Today I used the last of the previous batch and the new batch is ready to go. 

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 1:47 pm

Why Do So Many Recipes Call for So Little Garlic?

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I’ve noticed that I’ve been using somewhat less garlic lately, but I still find 1 clove is enough only when making salad dress. Still, Bettina Makalintal’s article in Eater raises some good points:

As the memes go, the proper way to measure garlic is with your heart. One clove is not enough for any recipe, unless it’s a recipe for “how to cook one clove of garlic,” in which case you should still use two. More extreme: When the recipe calls for one clove, use at least a head. Why? Because there is no such thing as too much garlic.

The love of garlic is nearly universal, as essential to the cuisine of Italy as it is to those of China, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. But if the common sentiment in so many food-obsessed circles is that garlic, even more than salt, belongs in everything and in unlimited quantity, then why do so many recipes still call for such a stingy number of cloves? If a recipe is ostensibly a work of authority, intended to share one “right” way of making something, then how does one land on the “right” amount of garlic? Can there even be such a thing?

For a recipe developer who doesn’t know their audience’s preferences, calling for a scant quantity of garlic can be a way to play it safe. “Two cloves of garlic can help figure out a range if [readers] want to add more, but people don’t get mad at the amount you’re using,” says Ben Mims, a cooking columnist at the Los Angeles Times. It’s a small enough quantity that someone can feel empowered to skip it entirely, but present enough that someone else can choose to add six more cloves without feeling like they’ll ruin the dish, he explains.

“Garlic is like the savory equivalent to how I think a lot of people treat vanilla extract in baking,” says recipe developer Emma Laperruque, a cooking editor at Bon Appétit. “It makes everything better, but you don’t need a lot of it.” Limited to just five ingredients in Big Little Recipes, the cookbook she spun from her former Food52 column, Laperruque rarely added ingredients that offered only subtle accents. If garlic appeared in a “big little recipe,” it was prominent, as in garlic confit (three heads) or garlic broth (two big heads). Those kinds of recipes have been increasingly fun to explore, says Laperruque: “I think we’re in a wave of garlic not being an accent but a forefront player.”

For cookbook author and video host Carla Lalli Music, garlic’s magic number is at least . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 12:57 pm

Is It Better to Drink Little Alcohol Than None? Do Any Benefits Outweigh Risks?

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Full disclosure: I will, on occasion — if it is an occasion, such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or the like — have a drink, but I drink rarely. That was not always true, but I’ve drifted into not drinking and I now enjoy the feeling that results. 

The following video is particularly interesting in the light of a report in the NY Times (gift link, no paywall), “Drink Up, Japan Tells Young People. I’ll Pass, Many Reply.” The blurb seems outright astonishing to me: 

The country’s tax agency, hoping to reverse the alcohol industry’s pandemic doldrums, is holding a contest to encourage more drinking among the young.

I wonder whether cigarette sales are down, and if they would then encourage young people to take up smoking.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 11:04 am

What looks a lot like littering in space

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 10:40 am

The LABL lathering method — and a fine shave

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This morning I again took my time loading the brush — my Yaqi Target Shot — and once again enjoyed an especially thick and creamy lather (and this morning a very fragrant lather as well, thanks to Barrister & Mann’s olfactory skills: Reserve Spice really hit the spot today in terms of fragrance). I decided to call this method the LABL method: “Load A Bit Longer.” Try it and see what you think. Load the brush as you usually do, but when you reach the point you would normally stop, persist a bit longer. See how that works for you. (I will note that I am fortunate enough to enjoy very soft tap water, but I see no reason the method would not work for harder water.)

Well-lathered, I enjoyed my three-pass shave with a Yaqi double-open-comb razor — three passes to perfection.

Barrister & Mann’s Reserve Spice aftershave has the same wonderful fragrance as the soap, and with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel it made a fine finish for the shave.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Editors’ Blend: “a smooth, medium blend of black Ceylon, Keemun, and Yunnan with sweet honey notes.”

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 8:47 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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