There are stories about poisonous plants and psychoactive substances that I’ve never been able to confirm by finding a primary source. Was there really a woman whose leg fell off as she rode to hospital to have it amputated as a result of the gangrene caused by Claviceps purpurea, ergot fungus? Did a 19th century Swedish doctor die after eating leaves of Aconitum napellus, monkshood, to demonstrate that they were harmless? Did the German High Command actually think about giving its troops cocaine to sustain them during World War One?
I got a little closer to confirming that last thanks to coffee and the wonders of Twitter...more
I really don’t understand why the reaction to any poisonous plant is an absence of logic rapidly followed by a tendency to hysteria. Regular readers will assume I’m about to write about Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort, and the latest ragwort survey from the British Horse Association (BHS) and I am, later. But what leads me to that opening is a story about another plant all together. A plant that, until today, I hadn’t even considered; that’s how little trouble it causes.
My Google alert drew me to a local paper story but, when that mentioned another story in a national I went looking for that. It appears to have started with a report in the Daily Express though, purely by coincidence I’m sure, the Mail had a very similar story the following day...more
I still don’t get Twitter. I’m not sure if I’m doing it wrong (by reading every Tweet that reaches my timeline) or whether everybody else is capable of reading much faster than me. I say this because I can’t understand how people can follow a thousand or more people and not be spending every minute reading the resulting Tweets.
This gap in my knowledge means that I don’t automatically follow anyone who has chosen to follow me. My understanding is that doing so can lead to a fairly rapid rise in the number of followers on the basis that the more people you know about, the more people will know about you...more
I could easily write many more pieces than I do if I rushed to the keyboard every time Kathy Gyngell wrote something distorting evidence, Peter Hitchens valued his opinion above evidence of any sort or Kevin Sabet wrote – well anything really. And I could try and emulate those people who actually run websites calling out the MailOnline for its every transgression. As we know, they are legion.
The reason I don’t is because it is depressing to realise that there are people who believe the nonsense that gets spouted or, in the case of the Mail, try and either laugh it off or claim that every media outlet does the same and picking on the Mail is some sort of left-wing campaign...more
It’s a week now since the classification of Catha edulis, khat,, as a class ‘C’ substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) but I make no apology for returning to the subject. Partly, I want to contribute to those who are trying to keep this topic in the news. But I’m also struck by how the story of khat mirrors many other stories.
My objection to the khat classification (I know it would be easier to call it a khat ban but that, to me, is to give it credit for achieving that which it cannot; the elimination of khat chewing in the UK.) is based on two sets of arguments – the general and the specific...more
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