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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

June 2013

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Friday 28th June 2013

The Times today reported that Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, is about to go against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and schedule Catha edulis, khat, under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The article is here  but if, like me, you don’t have a subscription you’ll only be able to read the first couple of paragraphs.

But that is, probably enough because you can see that the Times says May is basing her decision on the belief that ‘the potential links between trade in it and Islamic extremism could justify a ban’...more

Tuesday 25th June 2013

'Yeah, we're all wonderful, wonderful people
So when did we all get so fearful?'
Read All About It (Part II)
©Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Limited, Stellar Songs Ltd.

A number of unrelated events have set me thinking about fear. Three happened today but they made me think about other recent things...more

Friday 21st June 2013

It’s been a busy day. First there was the TV company wanting to use some of my pictures to illustrate a programme. That meant signing release forms and sending off the high resolution originals. I won’t say anymore for now because they may not get used in the transmitted item.

And, then, I got a visit from the police..more

Thursday 20th June 2013

I said, yesterday, that I’d been having a look at the archive of ‘Popular Science’ magazine that has just been released. The archive is fully searchable so I’ve been looking for a number of related terms to see how often PopSci has covered them.

I began with ‘ricin’ and found that the word appears only eight times with six of those occurrences coming since February 2003. That is a significant date because it was in January 2003 that the so-called ‘ricin plot’ in the UK was ‘discovered’. Those six references are typical of press coverage of ricin. It is said to be easy to produce, it is stated as fact that both Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda held stocks and the April 2003 issue says that ricin WAS manufactured in a north London flat. By June 2004, it is being brought into an article about drug mules with a claim that swallowing small pellets could be a way to ‘import enough anthrax, ricin or other deadly biochemical powder’...more

Wednesday 19th June 2013

My feeble brain tries, and completely fails, to keep up with the flow of new information on topics that interest me. Generally, I skim through trying to get the essence of what has been written.

But this steady stream, or raging torrent, occasionally contains a tidal surge as a very large amount of information gets released in one go. When that happens twice in one week, it really becomes problematic...more

Saturday 15th June 2013

Almost the first gardening book I bought after we moved here in 2001 is called ‘Plants for All Places’ As the name suggests it sets out to offer suggestions for where to place plants to give them the conditions they desire. I doubt if I’ve opened it more than a couple of times.

Rather than try and provide the ideal conditions for plants I tend to let the plants decide where they want to be. This means I sometimes have failures when I place a plant in a totally unsuitable place but I also get plants self-seeding where they want to be...more

Sunday 9th June 2013

A while ago someone asked me to put together a video about Aconitum napellus, monkshood. I say a while ago but it was really a long time. I did think about what stories I wanted to tell about the plant and, once I'd worked that out, I needed to find something before I could proceed.

Finally, I found what I wanted and had a notion of what I wanted to include so could set about recording the commentary because I do that first, albeit with some video ideas in mind...more

Saturday 8th June 2013

Oh, no! Not another piece about ricin.

Sorry, but I feel the need to return to the subject of the ‘ricin letters’ scares because, just as the repeated nonsense about the ‘threat’ posed by the toxin from Ricinus communis, castor oil plant, tells us something about the media’s wish to scare its consumers, there has been a new twist that says something equally dark about both the media and the wider public..more

Saturday 1st June 2013

Another day, another ‘ricin scare’. To me, it is no surprise that, following the reporting of any incident involving the alleged presence of ricin, the toxin obtained from the seeds of Ricinus communis, castor oil plant, there are ‘copycat’ incidents. I didn’t bother writing about the ‘Spokane letters ricin scare’ because I saw one report that described the contents of the letters as crudely crushed castor beans and that is a very long way removed from pure ricin.

I decided I would write about the ‘Bloomberg ricin letters’ because the reporting of that incident ties into some reading I’ve been doing about ricin that originated from a completely different story...more

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