Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Literature Page -- Nothing About The Bakken -- June 22, 2017

ObamaCare

The three-legged stool: As the health care debate picks up again, keep this in mind: ObamaCare has only three legs:
  • employer mandates
  • individual mandates
  • medical device taxes
My betting:
  • elimination of the medical device tax: 99% likelihood these taxes will be eliminated
  • individual mandates: 95% likelihood these taxes will be eliminated; if not eliminated, by executive order President Trump will direct Treasury (IRS) to not take action against any individual who does not comply
  • employer mandates: 95% likelihood the employer mandates will not be eliminated, but a) the mandates will be "watered down"; and, b) penalties for not complying will be lessened
Other issues:
  • Medicare: absolutely nothing in any current health care debate about Medicare (seniors have a huge voting bloc)
  • Medicaid: states will be given relief -- a compromise to get the bill passed
Political note:
  • there will no "repeal" of ObamaCare -- this is the gift that keeps on giving
  • this will simply be a continuation of the process

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MSG

From Super Sushi Ramen Express: One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan, Michael Booth, c. 2009, 2016, chapter 9: "MSG: An Apology"
  • "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome": phrase coined in a 1968 letter to The New England Journal of Medicine
  • world's largest producer of MSG: Ajinomoto, a Japanese company; "ajinomoto" - "essence of taste"
  • company founded by Professor Kikunae Ikeda; discovered MSG in 1908
  • konbu seaweed: natural source of the particularly delicious amino acid called glutamate
  • glutamate - nature - seaweed - MSG - umami
  • MSG played an important role in adding flavor and mouth-feel to processed foods when these were lost during their industrial preservation
  • critics allege: a few years ago Ajinomoto made the hole in the top of the MSG shaker larger so that people would use more
  • from transcript of interview recorded with the company's scientific affairs spokeswoman
    • MSG: no more processed than salt or sugar; comes from konbu, seaweed
    • umami receptor discovered in 2000 (joined the other four taste receptors)
    • made the hole in the shaker larger about 30 years ago; reason? steam from the soup was clogging up the smaller hole
  • now the rest of the story
  • US FDA, UN, and EU: have all given MSG the "all clear"
  • merely a man-made glutamic acid produced by fermenting carbohydrates and sugars
  • umami and MSG are inextricably linked but are by no means the same thing
  • umami: usually referred to as the fifth taste, after salty, sweet, bitter, and sour
  • some neurologists now claim there are fifty or more tastes
  • Ikeda: noted something common in the complicated taste of asparagus, tomatoes, cheese, and meat; this taste is quite peculiar and cannot be classed under any of the other well-defined four taste qualities
  • cheese -- parmesan in particular -- and tomatoes have a powerful umami flavor (quick, name the primary components of pizza; yes, cheese and tomatoes, LOL)
  • other foods with strong umami component: air-dried ham, veal stock and Worcestershire sauce
  • mother's milk is far richer in umami than cow's milk
  • the crust on grilled meat: high in umami flavor
  • savory and meaty: words most often used to describe umami
  • Japanese most often use words delicious and tasty for umami
  • evolutionary explanations
  • sweet: tells you sugar is present; therefore an energy-giver
  • salt: a bodily requirement
  • bitter and sour: useful as warnings of toxins or unripeness (or spoilage)
  • so why umami? lets you know the food contains glutamic acid
  • glutamine indicates that protein is in the food; protein is essential to our survival, and so it makes sense that we identify something as food
  • unlike salt or sugar, there are no obvious go-to foods to get your hit
  • glutamine: supports other flavors; add body; enhances other flavors
  • umami is an indicator of ripeness and therefore tells us when vegetables and fruits are at their most nutritious
  • tomatoes are at their most umami-ish when they are at the peak of ripeness
  • konbu (seaweed) has more glutamate than any other foodstuff on earth
  • #1 food associated with Japanese umami: miso soup
  • katsuobushi, the other main base ingredient of the dashi used to make miso soup (along with water)
  • shiitake mushrooms: also extremely rich in guanylate and are often added to miso soup as well
  • miso soup: a triple whammy -- konbu, katsuobushi, shiitake
  • the Italians were particularly good at generating this synergistic umami effect (think pizza)
  • parmesan: second-highest amount of glutamate of all common foodstuffs
  • French: veal stock
  • British: Marmite, or yeast extract
  • health benefits to umami -- you will have to get the book to learn about that; I need to move on
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The Literary Page

One of my favorite posts this past year was not about the Bakken (say what?). It was about color.
Crayola will be phasing out "dandelion yellow" this year. I bought several 24-count Crayola boxes as an investment since these will probably become priceless once "dandelion yellow" is completely phased out.

At the time of the announcement, Crayola did not say what color was going to replace "dandelion yellow." They have now made the announcement that it will be shade of blue but the actual color has not yet been named.

There were a flurry of stories yesterday about this new blue crayon. From USA Today: Crayola's newest crayon color is a shade of blue that was just discovered.
A brilliant blue color, discovered accidentally by Oregon State University chemists, will soon be the newest addition to Crayola’s box.

The crayon color, inspired by the blue pigment known as “YInMn” blue," is the replacement for the recently retired Dandelion crayon. The vibrant blue was discovered by Oregon State University chemists who were heating up chemicals in hopes of finding new materials that could be used in electronics. In what the university calls a "serendipitous discovery," one of the chemical mixes came out of the furnace a striking blue. The "YInMn” moniker comes from the elements that comprise it: yttrium, indium, manganese and oxygen.

“With the discovery of YInMn brand new pigment, who other than Crayola would be best to bring it to life?” said Leena Vadaketh, Crayola’s VP of Research & Development, North America.
Possibly / probably because of that story, I was attracted to this book at the Grapevine library today: Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay, c. 2002. Again, a British author; I've always argued that writes from the UK (to include Ireland and Scotland) are consistently very, very good.

Perhaps more later, but I have to get back on my bike to get home in time to take Sophia swimming.

Good luck to all.

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