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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

November 2013

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Friday 29th November 2013

I said on Wednesday that I keep writing about Catha edulis, khat, because not many other people are and that seems to be confirmed by the limited coverage given to the report from the Home Affairs Select Committee following its evidence gathering on the reasons for the Home Secretary’s decision to schedule khat and its likely impact.

The HASC report is only ten pages long and shouldn’t have been hard to assimilate and report on...more

Wednesday 27th November 2013

Many of my recent pieces have been written to encourage readers to view a video. The difference, today, is that it is not one of my own videos that I am urging you to view.

The Home Affairs Select Committee held another evidence session, yesterday, and it included the first appearance of Norman Baker the LibDem MP recently appointed to take on the drugs responsibility within the Home Office...more

Tuesday 26th November 2013

The videos I’m producing under the title ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’ are really just saying things I’ve said before but in a different way. That’s very true for the latest.

But, sometimes you have to keep finding ways to say the same thing even though it appears to be having no impact at all...more

Friday 22nd November 2013

It has been a busy week for Catha edulis, khat, with four separate, but related events. I thought it was worth summarising them but I should start by saying that three of the four confused me.

The first, and most straightforward, happened on Tuesday when the Home Affairs Select Committee held an evidence gathering session focusing on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and khat. The video recording of the session is available. There were four groups of witnesses and though the first three had been invited to appear primarily to speak about NPS the chairman, Keith Vaz MP, asked all of them about khat and made a point of telling each group that he had come to no harm after chewing khat during visits to his country of birth, Yemen...more

Monday 18th November 2013

Judging by the all the chat shows and Twitter activity, today is the day to launch all those products people hope will end up as Christmas presents. That seems to make it a good day for my once a year piece of shameless self-promotion.

Before that, however, I want to thank everyone who has bought ‘Is That Cat Dead?’ either in printed form or as a Kindle download..more

Friday 15th November 2013

Following last Sunday’s piece about the lies and misrepresentations that are being used to try and suggest that the UK government’s intention to classify Catha edulis, khat, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is based on something other than political dogma, I thought I would make khat the subject of the latest of the ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’ videos.

I don’t know how many words I’ve written about this one plant but I do know that I have several books devoted to it in my library so trying to encapsulate the key points with the 121 seconds I allow myself was not easy...more

Thursday 14th November 2013

There is very little in history that can be reckoned to be completely reliable. You have to bear in mind the underlying views of the historian concerned because that can lead to very different interpretations of the same event. A friend of mine has an extensive library of books about the Zulu Wars in South Africa and once showed me two diametrically opposed accounts of the same incident.

That means I’m going to be a little cautious about claiming that, finally, I am certain that the CIA were not involved in the outbreak of poisoning that occurred in Point St. Esprit in August 1951...more

Sunday 10th November 2013

When I stopped writing daily I said I would use Twitter to flag up items of interest that did not justify a full blog entry. I started to do that, this morning, but realised that the matter concerned needed the benefit of a long and detailed rant.

It started with a Tweet I received from Fatima Hashi directing me to the Impact Assessment published by the UK Home Office on 22nd October ‘Impact Assessment Of New Drug Control Of Khat’...more

Thursday 7th November 2013

Today’s ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’ video is about Solanum dulcamara, woody nightshade. It is also known as bittersweet but, as the video explains this is another example of how a plant’s common name can cause confusion.

The point of this video is, mostly, to introduce the plant and set-up a later video comparing it and Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade. I haven’t made that video, yet, but I do have a number of others ready to upload so you may have to wait a while for the comparison video...more

Wednesday 6th November 2013

Online dictionaries generally have slight variations in the way they define words. ‘Holistic’ is sometimes defined as just dealing with the whole rather than the parts and sometimes the definition is made explicit to health by talking about treating a person as a whole rather than dealing with symptoms.

It is not a word I’m happy to use because it is mostly used by the charlatans and snake oil salesmen who try to offer a wholly spurious justification for their particular product or service. Claiming to be treating a person ‘holistically’ justifies bizarre procedures. I daresay Pliny’s remedy for toothache (pounding Hedera helix, ivy, with rose oil and the rind of a pomegranate to treat toothache but only if poured into the ear on the opposite side of the face) would be seen as ‘holistic’..more

Friday 1st November 2013

The latest video in the series ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’ is about a plant that is not infamous because of its poisonous components. Nor does it have a wealth of ancient folklore. Rather, it is a plant where the myths have developed within the past 20-30 years as modern society has sought to eliminate all risks.
 
Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut, provides seeds that are called conkers and the entirely fantastical epidemic of children being severely damaged as a result of playing with conkers coupled with the health problems the tree has suffered in recent years have combined to create an hysterical myth about the excesses of ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ in the UK...more

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