Later On

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Archive for November 8th, 2022

One in Eight U.S. Adult Deaths Involved Too Much Booze

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Zaina Hamza writes in MedPage Today:

One out of every eight deaths in Americans ages 20 to 64 resulted from drinking too much alcohol, according to a U.S. population-based study.

Nationally, 12.9% of total deaths per year among adults in this age group were attributed to excessive alcohol consumption from 2015 to 2019, and that number rose to 20.3% of total deaths per year when restricted to people ages 20 to 49, reported Marissa Esser, PhD, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues.

Alcohol-attributed deaths ranged from 9.3% in Mississippi to 21.7% in New Mexico and were more common among men than women (15% vs 9.4%), the authors wrote in JAMA Network Open.

“These premature deaths could be reduced through increased implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies (e.g., increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density), and alcohol screening and brief intervention,” the authors concluded.

Alcohol consumption remains a leading preventable cause of premature death, with rates rising for alcoholic liver disease among young adults up to age 64, Esser’s group noted. A prior CDC report from 2006 to 2019 attributed one in 10 deaths to excessive alcohol consumption among adults ages 20 to 64, but it was largely based on self-reported data without consideration of per capita alcohol sales.

“Compared with 2019, death rates involving alcohol as an underlying or contributing cause of death increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, including among adults aged 20 to 64 years,” Esser’s group wrote. “Therefore, the proportion of deaths due to excessive drinking among total deaths might be higher than reported in this study.”

However, researchers added that . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

8 November 2022 at 7:56 pm

Fasolada batch 1 underway — and finished

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Making the fasolada now. Lessons learned:

  1. I cut the carrot sections a little too large. Smaller next time. Three carrots are plenty.
  2. I used 3 small stalks of celery (from a package of celery hearts). Not enough celery. The recipe calls for 2 stalks, but those should be large stalks from a full bunch of celery. With celery hearts, I would say 6 stalks is more like it.
  3. I cooked vegetables in olive oil for 10 minutes and that seemed plenty. Maybe at a lower heat, I could do 15. — I later found that setting burner to 275ºF I could easily cook veg for 15-20 minutes.
  4. One tablespoon of tomato paste seems too little. I think two tablespoons might work better. (and that turned out to be right.)
  5. Instead of water and a vegetable bouillon cube, I used low-sodium veggie broth because that seemed a better idea.
  6. The apple I planned to use was not usable, so I ended up with an apple smaller than I wanted. Next time I’ll buy a Honeycrisp or Cosmic Crisp specifically for the soup. — Update: And I halved it.
  7. I used navy beans, but on my second batch, I used Great Northern beans, which worked much better. However, black beans are much higher in antioxidants, so next time I might go with black beans.

Finished, tasted, and thoughts for the next time

I’ve had a bowl. Adding a little olive oil, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to the bowl before eating was a good idea. (I didn’t try the other feta cheese, anchovies, thyme, or olives, though I might try a few pitted Kalamata olives in the next bowl.)

Next time:

  1. I won’t salt beans as they soak. I was a little leery of that to begin with, and it seems to have kept the beans from softening sufficiently for my taste.
  2. I won’t use nearly so much liquid. I’ll try 6 cups — probably a quart of low-sodium veggie broth and a pint of water. If it still seems too liquid, I’ll use a quart of broth and just a cup of water for the next batch. (I prefer a thick soup.) — That comment was after using navy beans. With Great Northern beans, the two quarts of stock was not excessive.
  3. And as mentioned above, I’ll go with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, plus more celery than I used this time.
  4. Aha! This just occurred to me: the soup, as I noted, is not thick enough for my taste. Also, there are a lot of beans. So I’m thinking I’ll take out some of the cooked beans, mash them (using this), and stir the mash back into the soup. Voilà! Thickening will be achieved! — I could also remove a cup or so of the cooked beans and process them in my little 3.5-cup food processor. — Update: After realizing that I can add old-fashioned rolled oats to things I cook in order to include a grain — see this post — I think for thickening, I’ll use rolled oats. Fasolada is normally eaten with bread, which supplies the needed grain, but I don’t eat bread. So rolled oats will 1) include the grain to go with the beans, and 2) thicken the soup: win-win.
  5. I woke up this morning realizing that I would like something green in the soup, so next time I think I mightl add a small bunch of chopped broccolini for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.
  6. Discovery: Roasted pumpkin seeds are an excellent addition when serving. (Instead of feta, for example.)

Update: Some ideas from a Greek family: Include thin strips of orange zest and squeezing orange juice into the finished soup (or lemon juice, without the orange zest). Also, add a little pinch of cinnamon to the soup.

: Made it again.

Written by Leisureguy

8 November 2022 at 4:44 pm

Are divisive US politics repelling international early-career scientists?

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People are viewing the US in a new light. Virginia Gewin writes in Nature:

For the past five decades, the United States has been a top destination for international early-career researchers to do their training in a PhD or postdoctoral post. Since the 1960s, post-cold-war US diplomatic policies have aimed to attract foreign scholars, especially those in then-budding democracies (M. O’Mara Soc. Sci. Hist. 36, 583–615; 2012). After a steady increase, numbers peaked in 2016, when more than one million students — undergraduate and graduate — were enrolled to study in the United States. The number of international students then began to decline slowly: graduate-student numbers dipped by 1.3%, to 377,943, in 2018, according to the Institute of International Education, a student-exchange non-profit organization based in New York City. During the 2020–21 academic year, the first of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number sank by 12.1%, to 329,272 graduate students. That same year, numbers of international scholars in the United States (specifically, postdocs and visiting researchers) plummeted by 31%, from 123,508 to 85,528.

It’s unclear whether those numbers will recover, or how long that might take. In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of international-student F-1 visas issued to Chinese students, who make up the overwhelming majority of people coming to attend US universities, had declined by more than 50% in the first 6 months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2019. Furthermore, a September 2021 poll for the U.S.–China Perception Monitor found that 62% of Chinese respondents had a view of the United States that was either “very unfavorable” or “unfavorable”.

Universities in countries such as Australia and Canada, which are increasingly reliant on foreign-student tuition fees, also saw COVID-19-related declines in the number of international students in 2020. Australia has struggled to re-establish an international-student pipeline following its stringent COVID-19 border closure. And although the number of study-permit holders in Canada increased to more than 750,000 international students for the 2022–23 academic year, applicants from Africa have complained of excessive visa-application delays. Last month, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada stated that more needs to be done to stamp out internal racism against African applicants.

The reasons for international-student career decisions are . . .

Continue reading.

The loss of graduate students leads to a loss in practitioners. The US doesn’t face so much a brain drain as a shortage of brain replenishment.

Written by Leisureguy

8 November 2022 at 1:18 pm

The Scent of Flavor

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Linda Bartoshuk writes in Inference:

ARISTOTLE CONCLUDED that there are five elementary sensations: sight, hearing, touch—encompassing temperature, irritation, and pain—taste, and smell. He was mistaken.

When Aristotle sniffed an apple, he smelled it. When he bit into the apple and the flesh touched his tongue, he tasted it. But he overlooked something that caused 2,000 years of confusion.1 If Aristotle had plugged his nose when he tasted the apple, he might have noticed that the apple sensation disappeared leaving only sweetness and perhaps some sourness—depending on the apple. He might have decided that the apple sensation was entirely different from the sweet and sour tastes, and he might have decided that there are six elementary sensations. He didn’t. It was not until 1810 that William Prout, then a young student at the University of Edinburgh, plugged his nose and noticed that he could not taste nutmeg. He wrote,

[T]he sensation produced by the nutmeg or any other substance, when introduced into the mouth, and which ceases the moment the nostrils are closed, is really very different from taste, and ought to be distinguished by another name; that that name should be flavor [emphasis original], the one which seems most naturally and properly to designate it.2

We now understand the anatomy of the nose and mouth. There is a conduit from the back of the mouth up into the nose called the retronasal space. When we swallow, volatiles released from foods in the mouth are forced through the retronasal space, up into the nose. The perception of those volatiles gives us flavor. If you plug your nose, air currents cannot move through the retronasal space and flavor is blocked.

If Aristotle had recognized flavor as a distinct sensation, he might have paid attention to how taste, flavor, and smell really work together. Taste handles the sensations evoked when nonvolatiles stimulate receptors on the tongue. Flavor and smell respond to volatiles that stimulate receptors in the nose and send signals up the olfactory nerve. But those signals are processed in different parts of the brain.3 Smell tells us about objects in the world around us and flavor tells us about foods in our mouths. Smell and flavor cannot both use the olfactory nerve at the same time; they must take turns. The brain needs to know which of the senses is using the nerve in order to send the input to the correct area. Sniffing appears to be the cue that signals smell.4 Taste appears to be the main cue that signals flavor. The evidence for this, documented below, took a long time to gather, but the search has yielded many important insights with clinical and commercial implications.

The Victim of an Illusion

ARISTOTLE’S MISTAKE is understandable when we consider that retronasal olfactory sensations, or flavors, seem to come from the mouth even though we know they come from the nose. Consider the following demonstration. Plug your nose and put a jelly bean in your mouth. Chew it up and swallow it while keeping your nose tightly closed. You will probably taste sweetness and perhaps a bit of sourness, depending on the jelly bean, but you will not perceive the flavor. That is, you won’t know if the jelly bean is lemon flavored, lime flavored, raspberry flavored, or so on. Now unplug your nose. Suddenly you will perceive the flavor. When you unplugged your nose, the volatiles released by chewing the jelly bean traveled up through the retronasal space into your nose and produced a signal in your olfactory nerve that traveled to your brain.

Think about that moment when you perceived the flavor of the jelly bean. You perceived that flavor as coming from your mouth. Even knowing that the volatiles travel into your nose and the flavor sensation comes from your olfactory nerve, you will still perceive it as coming from your mouth. In 1917, two psychologists, Harry Hollingworth and Albert Poffenberger, became fascinated by this illusion. In their book, The Sense of Taste, they explained the localization of flavor to the mouth as, “true largely because of the customary presence of sensations of pressure, temperature, movement, and resistance which are localized in the mouth.”5

This conclusion went unchallenged for decades. Research elsewhere supported the idea that the touch sense controls the localization for other sensations. For example, touch controls the localization of thermal stimuli. To demonstrate this, place two quarters in your freezer to make them cold. Hold one in your hand to make it body temperature. Arrange the three quarters on a flat surface with the body-temperature quarter in the middle. Touch the three quarters simultaneously with your index, middle, and ring fingers. All three quarters will feel cold. The touch sensations “capture” the cold sensation so that coldness seems to come from all three quarters.6

The Localization of Flavor

WE ARE now able to anesthetize the chorda tympani taste nerve that mediates taste from the front, mobile part of the tongue. The chorda tympani nerve leaves the tongue in a common sheath with the trigeminal nerve, which mediates touch, temperature, irritation, and pain on the tongue. These nerves travel near the nerve mediating pain from lower teeth. When your dentist gives you an injection of lidocaine to block pain when filling a lower tooth, the nearby trigeminal and chorda tympani nerves are also anesthetized. As a result, your tongue becomes numb and you cannot taste on the side of the injection.

The chorda tympani and lingual nerves separate, and the chorda tympani passes through the middle ear, right behind the eardrum, before it travels to the brain. When otolaryngologists anesthetize the eardrum, they also inadvertently anesthetize the chorda tympani nerve.

As part of a study, we asked volunteers to sample yogurt and tell us where they perceived the flavor. The answer: from . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

8 November 2022 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

The wonderful #101 on a bright day, with snow

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As the lighting indicates, a) I got a late start, b) it’s a sunny and cloudless day, and c) it’s very bright from the snow deposited last night. The snow still covers cars and the carport roof outside my window, but it seems to be disappearing from the ground. Winter arrived overnight. Yesterday was the first day I needed a warm jacket, and now this. Good day for fasolada.

The Green Ray brush easily worked up a great lather from Declaration Grooming’s After the Rain, a milksteak soap, and my iKon Shavecraft #101 did a superb job. The #101 is a terrific razor, but it seems currently to be out of stock. 

Three passes did a perfect job, and a splash of Diplomat aftershave finished the shave. My little bottle of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel just gave up its last drop, and that product too is out of stock. I think I’ll experiment with a Proraso balm instead, the idea being simply to add something to the splash to counteract the alcohol.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Baker Street Blend: “Lapsang Souchong, smooth Keemun, rich Ceylon, Gunpowder, and floral Jasmine.” Murchie’s likes to blend green and black teas, something I had not previously encountered.


Written by Leisureguy

8 November 2022 at 10:19 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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