Monthly Archives: September 2013

Making marmalade

Several years ago I had a common blood test that showed that the HbA1c level was near the upper limit of what is currently regarded as acceptable. At that point I realized that I knew little about insulin and its function. I remedied that on a journey which eventually covered both nutrition and cell biology. On the way I discovered research by Robert Lustig, who now has a viral video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, on YouTube. I had read the book Pure, White and Deadly published decades ago by nutritionist John Yudkin, and Robert Lustig was making the same point more forcefully. I had found most marmalade too sweet anyway so I experimented.

The recipe uses a 850 g can of cut Seville oranges. The can says to use 1.8 Kg of sugar. I reduced that to 1.3 Kg. Then noting that Lustig points out the different and less benign metabolism of fructose compared with glucose (especially for us non-athletic types), decided to try using glucose instead of sugar. This did not produce marmalade as we know it but some cloudy syrup.

The best result of experiments is:

850 g can of prepared Seville oranges. This can be fresh Seville oranges when available but then add pectin.
400 g water
650 g sugar
650 g dextrose

Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. You have to check for setting as it explains on the can, though I now keep all factors, quantities & heat, the same and find I don’t need to test.

This mix will give you about 1.5 g of fructose in two teaspoons of marmalade, and has the right bitter edge that is the point of having this conserve. If we go by what we used to consume before the days of cheap bulk sugar it looks like we had up to 15 g fructose a day; so this marmalade gives you space for other fruits. Friends to whom I have given a jar say they like it and don’t refuse more.

From Russia with love

Occasionally I read a SPAM email.

This one had a subject: “You have been specially selected

The first line of the content was: “We at Gold Ring Club Casino Casino have randomly selected you to receive a massive 200% Match bonus

It was sent from an address ending: .ru

Elephant thoughts

I read recently Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff.

The book was published in 2004 and is a collection of articles and talks. I found the analysis of political ‘right’ and ‘left’ valuable, though he is focused on US politics. He thinks it stems from models of the family. There are two extremes. One is the family where the father is the head and others are subservient to him, in which he uses punishment to make good people out of bad people – this is the right. The other is the nurturing family where both parents are of equal status and nurture their children to become nurturing parents themselves – the left. He accepts these are two extremes and that there is a continuum and all of us will use both models at some time. He says that people vote on values even when that is against self interest. The right have been honing a story based on their model for decades. He wants the left to develop a story based on their model to provide an alternative, which is what he calls reframing. I have felt this myself for a long time – we need a new story on which to build a vision of our common future.

I then read this article where I found Lakoff misunderstood. My comment to the article is below.

Royal Mail: the rhetoric of privatisation. How to reframe the political language of austerityand sell-offs

This article misunderstands the point Lakoff makes. Lakoff would say that using a phrase ‘casino economy’ is a mistake because it keeps the argument in the casino/austerity ball game. Reframing means changing the basis on which judgements are made. Change the debate to one about fairness, such as that those building houses (the workers) or those growing food (the farm workers) cannot afford to buy a place to live or good food to eat. Public property is being sold so that we have to rent it back forever; it’s like indentured labour.

Then I looked at the source of the above article and had the same response.

Framing the economy: the austerity story

George Lakoff says that once you have a frame facts that don’t fit are ignored. The current story of the economy is the stern father model who applies austerity medicine. If you try to present an alternative view of the economy that view will fail. We have to create a new valid story on a different frame, and I think fairness is a good frame for the nurturing parents model.

A theme to develop

Reading again about digital data collection whistleblowers:

War on whistlelblowers and journalists

I had to comment:

For me the insanity of the NSA et al data collection is that criminals will infiltrate the agency. I have no doubt that criminal organizations are investing in putting people into top universities, like Stanford, in order for them to get jobs in the digital spying agencies. Once they understand the backdoors built into proprietary encryption software, so that the NSA can decrypt on the fly, all financial services will be open to huge fraud; probably we would not know about it – the criminals would not want their work hampered. But, at some point the world could literally be held to ransom. Of course not just financial services would be in jeopardy. Edward Snowden is the good guy, we will not know about the bad guys till something awful happens.