Legalize Opium?

Aug 27 2014 @ 9:02am
by Dish Staff

800px-Special_Tax_Stamp_Opium_New_Orleans_1932

Gene Callahan suggests giving it a try:

My proposal offers the following advantages over the current situation:

  1. It allows us to test the waters of just how socially damaging full cocaine or heroin legalization might be, without simply plunging in head first. If simply legalizing coca leaves and opium produces droves of drugged-out zombies (which I don’t think it would), we could rule out full cocaine and heroin legalization, and even consider repealing this halfway legalization. If the effects are that bad, we can be sure that they would have been worse if we had legalized the harder forms of these drugs.
  2. A strong libertarian argument for full legalization (I say ”strong,” and not “decisive,” because I think there are significant counter-arguments here), is that many people are able to use these drugs in moderation without destroying their lives. … Well, these moderate, responsible users ought to find a milder, safer, and legal form of the drug they use to be a very welcome thing indeed. They could avoid the risk of arrest, of unregulated and adulterated street products that may contain dangerous additives, of job loss, and would enjoy a much greater ability to control their dosage.
  3. The considerations in point number two indicate what I think would be the greatest potential upside of this idea: its impact upon the economics of the trade in hard drugs. The shift in consumption predicted above would greatly lessen the demand for the more dangerous forms of these drugs.

In other opioid news, Olga Khazan examines a study finding that “the 13 states that had legalized medical marijuana prior to 2010 had a 25 percent lower rate of opioid mortality than those that didn’t”:

Read On

by Dish Staff

Harold McGee contends that it has a long pedigree:

It was well established by 1924, when James H. Collins compiled The Story of Canned Foods. Collins noted that while the American industry – which started in the 1820s and took off during the Civil War – focused on mechanization and making locally and seasonally abundant seafood and vegetables more widely available, the European industry continued to rely on handwork and produced luxury goods for the well-off, who would age their canned sardines for several years like wine. Today, Rödel and Connetable, both more than 150 years old, are among the sardine makers that mark select cans with the fishing year and note that the contents “are already very good, but like grand cru wines, improve with age” for up to 10 years.

He adds, “I do hope that some restless, frontier-seeking food lovers will look past our present happy surfeit of small-batch pickles and fruit preserves and try their hands at canning age-worthy meats and fish.”

Eat More Salt?

Aug 27 2014 @ 8:01am
by Dish Staff

salt

Studies showing that one’s preferred vice or guilty-pleasure condiment is actually good for you always have an audience. And so, here’s one for the salt-lovers out there. Sort of. Aaron E. Carroll explains (NYT):

Last year, experts convened by the Institute of Medicine assessed the evidence concerning sodium intake around the world. They agreed that efforts to reduce excessive sodium were warranted. But they cautioned that no such evidence existed to recommend a very low salt diet. They hoped that future research would assess the potential benefits of a diet where sodium intake was 1.5 to 2.3 grams per day.

The second New England Journal of Medicine study did just that. In addition to looking at high sodium diets, it also compared the health outcomes of those who had very low sodium diets. What they found was worrisome. When compared with those who consumed 3-6 grams per day, people who consumed less than 3 grams of sodium per day had an even higher risk of death or cardiovascular incidents than those who consumed more than 7 grams per day.

The key to health is (sadly) not pouring tremendous amounts of salt on absolutely everything. Writes Carroll:

It’s a cliché but true: In so many things moderation is our best bet. We have to learn that when one extreme is detrimental, it doesn’t mean the opposite is our safest course. It’s time to acknowledge that we may be going too far with many of our recommendations.

(Photo by Flickr user Lars K)

by Dish Staff

Mike Miley owns up to it in a fascinating essay about his experiences at the David Foster Wallace Archive at the University of Texas, confessing, “I came to Austin as a stalker, the kind of person who ought to be the recipient of a restraining order, not a research fellowship”:

The fellowship faintly disguises the fact that I am here to invade David Foster Wallace’s privacy, and that I took advantage of the Mellon Foundation to satisfy my personal compulsion to get as close to the inside of Wallace’s literary head as I could possibly get. What I failed to anticipate during all my academic grifting was how much peering into the dark recesses of Wallace’s skull would give me the howling fantods. What I wanted, I learned, was much more than I bargained for.

Read On

Unliking Facebook

Aug 26 2014 @ 8:31pm
by Sue Halpern

Dislike Facebook

Anyone who has ever read Facebook’s privacy policy–and that probably would not include you–understands that it is not meant to protect your privacy, but provide Facebook and its clients with access to you, your habits, your contacts, your life. This kind of access is the lifeblood of Facebook (read: money), so attempting to indemnify itself against any claims of invasiveness is crucial. This, of course, has not exempted the company from lawsuits, as well as from less formal but no less vociferous user discontent. A quick search on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a lesson in the thrust and parry around privacy that’s accompanied Facebook’s remarkable insinuation into the culture.

Earlier this summer, a young Austrian law student named Maximilian Schrems filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook which has draw an unprecedented number of claimants.

As Malarie Gokey writes, 60,000 people have now joined young Schrems:

Read On

by Dish Staff

Juan Cole finds the US response to yesterday’s revelation that Egypt and the UAE had carried out airstrikes in Libya pretty ironic:

According to the BBC, “the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK issued a joint statement denouncing “outside interference” in Libya.” Seriously, guys? Except for Germany, these are the NATO countries that intervened in Libya in the first place, in large part at the insistence of an Arab League led by Egypt and the UAE! It is true that the UAE and Egypt don’t have a UN Security Council Resolution, which authorized NATO involvement (I supported the then no fly zone on those grounds). But the newly elected Libyan House of Representatives has openly called for international intervention against Libya’s out-of-control militias and it is entirely possible that the Libyan government asked, behind the scenes for these air strikes. In any case, “outside interference” isn’t the issue!

Claims that the airstrikes caught us unawares are also beyond belief:

“With as many Aegis-class ships as the U.S. Navy has in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean, there is no possible way the UAE could pull this off without the U.S. knowing it,” said Christopher Harmer, a former Navy officer and an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War.

Read On

Face Of The Day

Aug 26 2014 @ 7:23pm
by Dish Staff

China's Face-kini Becomes Unlikely Global Fashion Hit

A Chinese woman wears a face-kini while swimming on August 22, 2014 in the Yellow Sea in Qingdao, China. The locally designed mask is worn by many local women to protect them from jellyfish stings, algae and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. By Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

Parental Whoa-vershare, Ctd

Aug 26 2014 @ 6:49pm
by Phoebe Maltz Bovy

A reader writes:

Bless your heart, Phoebe, for attempting to curb the tide of parental overshare. I am a parent of young children, and I post pictures of them and the occasional adorable quip they make on Facebook. Honestly, I post more than I should of them, but I try very hard to limit it to only the nicest photos of my kids, and not too frequently, for the exact reasons you discussed. I do not want my kids to be searching for jobs and have a potential employer know about their childhood doctors appointments. I appreciate having someone out there pointing out the long term effects if parental oversharing, so thanks for… sharing.

The two genres of parental sharing you mentioned really only account for the high-end posts (I.e., the Times and the Atlantic are the publishers). There is a plethora of other parental overshares on the so-called mommy blogs. So many kids with digestive problems and mothers trying to help their kids understand God and stay-at-home dads trying to be clever and funny. And the larger blogs have sponsored content (albeit often clearly labeled). I once read a post by a woman whose blog received a sponsorship from a razor company, and she talked about the first time her tween daughter shaved. Ugh. And that doesn’t even begin to get to the quick shares on Facebook of potty training successes and failures. Please keep up the good work of reminding people not to start embarrassing their children until they are a little older, like our parents did.

Even with my limited knowledge of colloquial American English from places outside the Northeast, I know that “bless your heart” implies that my cause here is a futile one. Which, alas, it probably is. But this response is reminding me of an important clarification regarding just what that cause, as I see it, involves.

Read On

The View From Your Window

Aug 26 2014 @ 6:20pm
by Dish Staff

Warwick Camp Bermuda 10am

Warwick Camp, Bermuda, 10.00 am

by Dish Staff

Reactions to the Obama administration’s latest move to promote contraceptive accessibility keep coming. Jonathan Cohn elaborates on why free birth control is worth fighting over:

Late last week, lots of people were talking about a story by Sarah Kliff, of Vox, on why teen pregnancy has been declining in just the last few years. It’s a great article, well worth your time, but the part that jumped out at me was the much bigger decline in teen births that occurred many decades agoin the 1960s, when the teen pregnancy rate fell by about 25 percent. What changed? The big factor, as social scientists (and friends of QED) Harold Pollack and Luke Shaefer reminded me over the weekend, was birth control. The Food and Drug Administration first approved the pill in 1960.

It wasn’t just teenagers on whom the introduction of cheap, highly effective medical contraception had profound effects. It was also older women, including married women, who gained the ability to control the timing of pregnancy and child rearing.

James C. Capretta, meanwhile, says the HHS “non-accomodation” isn’t a real solution:

Read On