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DIY Face Masks Are Basically Useless Against the Coronavirus


Knitting enthusiasts are hard at work filling a giant, gaping hole in the nation’s supply of face masks for healthcare workers. And they’re growing in numbers. The New York Times called them “a sewing army” in a recent report.

Despite their good intentions, the simple fact is that home-sown cloth masks are nearly useless in protecting against the virus, as Wirecutter reports, and should only be a very last resort for practitioners in the field.

In the age of coronavirus, personal protective equipment (PPEs) like surgical masks, gloves, and face shields are becoming increasingly hard to come by. And that’s really bad news: without healthy healthcare workers, no treatment. No treatment, more deaths.

“Homemade face masks are not considered [PPEs], and should be an option only when there are absolutely no respirators or face masks left, and used with other protective equipment, such as face shields,” CDC spokesperson Arleen Porcell told Wirecutter in an email.

“It’s important to note that this strategy is considered a last resort and does not adhere to the typical standards of care in the US, but acknowledges the hard realities on the ground,” Porcell added.

The best case scenario for practitioners remains to be N95-certified respirator masks, as they catch more than 95 percent of particulates. Surgical masks simply create a physical barrier and don’t seal.

Studies have confirmed the fact that homemade cloth masks are pretty terrible at catching viruses. A 2013 Cambridge University study found that tea towels and vacuum cleaner bags were far closer to the effectiveness of actual surgical masks in blocking a certain type of virus.

And then there’s the fact that people might think their cloth face masks can do more than they actually can — in fact, a false sense of security could actually do more harm than good. By touching a contaminated surface and then the mask could actually end up with you getting infected yourself. Besides, homemade masks aren’t properly sterilized.

So what can you do? Here’s the upshot: consider donating money to your local hospital so they can afford to buy proper PPEs. Leave the respirator masks at the store — they won’t protect you from catching the virus, only protect the people around you from get it from you. With a national shortage of respirators, don’t hoard them for yourself and make sure that healthcare practitioners on the front lines have access to them instead.



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Scientific Models and Myths: What Is the Difference?


Most people seem to think, “The difference between models and myths is that models are scientific, and myths are the conjectures of primitive people who do not have access to scientific thinking and computers. With scientific models, we have moved far beyond myths.” It seems to me that the truth is quite different from this.

History shows a repeated pattern of overshoot and collapse. William Catton wrote about this issue in his highly acclaimed 1980 book, Overshoot.

Figure 1. Depiction of Overshoot and Collapse by Paul Chefurka

What politicians, economists, and academic book publishers would like us to believe is that the world is full of limitless possibilities. World population can continue to rise. World leaders are in charge. Our big problem, if we believe today’s models, is that humans are consuming fossil fuel at too high a rate. If we cannot quickly transition to a low carbon economy, perhaps based on wind, solar and hydroelectric, the climate will change uncontrollably. The problem will then be all our fault. The story, supposedly based on scientific models, has almost become a new religion.

Recent Attempted Shifts to Wind, Solar and Hydroelectric Are Working Poorly

Of course, if we check to see what has happened when economies have actually attempted to switch to wind, water and hydroelectric, we see one bad outcome after another.

[1] Australia’s attempt to put renewable electricity on the grid has sent electricity prices skyrocketing and resulted in increased blackouts. It has been said that intermittent electricity has “wrecked the grid” in Australia.

[2] California, with all of its renewables, has badly neglected its grid, leading to many damaging wildfires. Renewables need disproportionately more long distance transmission, partly because they tend to be located away from population centers and partly because transmission must be scaled for peak use. It is evident that California has not been collecting a high enough price for electricity to cover the full cost of grid maintenance and upgrades.

Figure 2. California electricity consumption including amounts imported from out of state, based on EIA data. Amounts shown are average daily amounts, by month.

[3] The International Rivers Organization writes that Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost. Part of the problem is the huge number of people who must be moved from their ancestral homeland and their inability to adapt well to their new location. Part of the problem is the environmental damage caused by the dams. To make matters worse, a study of 245 large dams built between 1934 and 2007 showed that without even taking into account social and environmental impacts, the actual construction costs were too high to yield a positive return.

Developed economies have made hydroelectric power work adequately in areas with significant snow melt. At this point, evidence is lacking that large hydroelectric dams work well elsewhere. Significant variation in rainfall (year-to-year or seasonally) seems to be particularly problematic, because without fossil fuel backup, businesses cannot rely on year-around electricity supply.

The Pattern of Overshoot and Collapse Is Well-Established

Back in 1974, Henry Kissinger said in an interview:

I think of myself as a historian more than as a statesman. As a historian, you have to be conscious of the fact that every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. [Emphasis added.]

History is a tale of efforts that failed, of aspirations that weren’t realized, of wishes that were fulfilled and then turned out to be different from what one expected. So, as a historian, one has to live with a sense of the inevitability of tragedy. As a statesman, one has to act on the assumption that problems must be solved.

Historians tend to define collapse more broadly than “the top level of government disappearing.” Collapse includes many ways of an economy failing. It includes losing at war, population decline because of epidemics, governments overthrown by internal dissent, and governments that cannot repay debt with interest, and failing for this reason.

A basic issue that often underlies collapse is falling average resources per person. These falling average resources per person can take several forms:

  • Population rises, but land available for farming doesn’t rise.
  • Mines and wells deplete, requiring more effort for extraction.
  • Soil erodes or becomes polluted with salt, reducing crop yields.

One of the other issues is that as resources per capita become stretched, it becomes harder and harder to set aside a margin for a “rainy day” or a drought. Thus, weather or climate variations may push an economy over the edge, as resources per person become more stretched.

Scientific Models Too Often Prove Whatever the Grant Provider Wants Proven

It is incredibly difficult to figure out what the future will hold. Our experience is almost entirely with a growing economy. It is easy to accidentally build this past experience into a model of the future, even when we are trying to make realistic assumptions. For example, when making pension models in the early 1980s, actuaries would see interest rates of 10% and assume that interest rates could remain this high indefinitely.

The question of whether prices will rise to allow future energy extraction is another problematic area. If we believe standard economic theory, prices can be expected to rise when resources are in short supply. But if we look at Revelation 18: 11-17, we find that when Babylon collapsed, the problem was low prices and lack of demand. There were not even buyers for slaves, and these were the energy product of the day. The Great Depression of the 1930s showed a similar low-price pattern. Today’s economic model seems to need refinement, if it is to account for how prices really seem to behave in collapses.

If there is an issue that is difficult to evaluate in making a forecast, the easiest approach for researchers to take is to omit it. For example, the intermittency of wind and solar can effectively be left out by assuming that (a) the different types of intermittency will cancel out, or (b) intermittency will be inexpensive to fix or (c) intermittency will be handled by a different part of the research project.

To further complicate matters, researchers often find that their compensation is tied to their ability to get grants to fund their research. These research grants have been put together by organizations that are concerned about the future. These organizations are looking for research that will match their understanding of today’s problems and their proposed solutions for the future.

A person can guess how this arrangement tends to work out. Any researcher who points out endless problems, or says that the proposed solution is impossible, won’t get funding. To get funding, at least some partial solution must be provided along the lines outlined in the Request for Proposal, regardless of how unlikely the proposed solution is. Research showing that the grant-writer’s view of the future is not really correct is left to retired researchers and others willing to work for little compensation. All too often, published research tends to say whatever the groups funding the research studies want the studies to say.

Myths Are of Many Types; Many Are Aimed at Giving Good Advice

The fact that myths have survived through the ages lets us know that at least some people found the insights that they provided were worthwhile.

If an ancient people did not know how the earth and the people on it came into being, they would likely come up with a myth explaining the situation. Most of us today would not believe myths about Thor, for example, but (as far as we know) no one was being paid to put together stories about Thor and how powerful he was. The myths were stories that people found sufficiently useful and entertaining to pass along. In some sense, this background gives these stories more value than a paper written in order to obtain funds provided by a research grant.

Some myths relate to what types of activities by humans were desirable or undesirable. For example, the people in Uganda have traditional folklore about a moral monster that is used to teach children the dangers of craftiness and deceit. My sister who visited Uganda reported that where she visited, people believed that people who stole someone else’s crops were likely to get sick. Most of us wouldn’t think that this story was really right, but it has a moral purpose behind it. There are no doubt many myths of this type. They have been passed on because passing them on seemed to serve a purpose.

Clearly, which actions are desirable or undesirable changes over time. For example, Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 seem to condemn wearing fabrics that are a mix of linen and wool. Today, we use many fabrics that are mixes of two types of yarns. Perhaps there was a problem with different amounts of shrinkage. Today, our issues are different. Perhaps myths associated with issues such as these need to be discarded, because they are not relevant anymore.

How about myths of an afterlife? Things on earth don’t necessarily go well. The promise of a favorable afterlife has a definite appeal. Some people would even like a story in which people who don’t act in the desired manner are punished. Some religions seem to provide such an ending as well.

Follow a Religion Based on Scientific Models, or Based on Myth, or Neither?

Nature’s solutions and mankind’s solutions in a finite world both involve complexity, but the two types of complexity are very different.

Mankind’s solutions seem to involve more and more devices using an increased amount of resources and debt. The overhead of the system becomes greater and greater as the economy increasingly shifts toward robots and owners/overseers of the robots. The big problem that can be expected to develop comes from not having enough purchasers who can afford to purchase the end products created by this system. In fact, we seem to already be reaching an era of too much wage disparity and too much wealth disparity. Eventually, such a system can be expected to collapse under its own weight.

We can already see signs that wind and solar are not scalable to the extent that people would like them to be. Together, they currently comprise only 3% of the world’s energy supply. We need very large supplies of energy to provide food, housing, and transportation for 7.7 billion people.

Figure 3. World Energy Consumption by Fuel, based on data of 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Regardless of what politicians would like proven, nature doesn’t move in a constant path upward. Instead, nature provides a self-organizing system of individual parts, none of which is permanent. Humans are temporary residents of this earth. Businesses are temporary, and the products they sell are constantly changing and adapting. Governments are temporary. Weather patterns are also temporary. Religions are constantly changing and adapting, and new ones are formed.

Nature’s way doesn’t seem to require much overhead. Over the long run, it seems to be much more permanent than mankind’s attempts at solutions. As the system changes, each replacement differs in random ways from previous systems of a particular type. The best adapted replacements survive, without the need for excessive overhead to the system.

We may or may not agree with the religions that have formed over the years in the self-organizing way that nature provides. The fact that religions have stayed around indicates that at least for some people, they continue to play a significant role. If nothing else, religious groups often provide social gatherings with others in the area. This provides an opportunity for friendship. In some cases, it will allow people to find potential marriage partners who are not closely related.

One of the roles of religions is to pass down “best practices.” These will change over time so some will need to be discarded and changed. For example, in some eras, it will be optimal for women to have several children. In others, it will make sense to have only one or two.

The book, Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions by Jeffrey Moses, lists 64 principles shared by several religions. Of course, not all religions agree on all of these 64 principles. Instead, there seems to be a great deal of overlap in what religions of the world teach. Some sample truths include “The Golden Rule,” it is “Blessed to Forgive,” “Seek and Ye Shall Find,” and “There Are Many Paths to God.” This type of advice can be helpful for people.

People will differ on whether it makes sense to believe that there really is an afterlife. There may very well be; we can’t know for certain. At least this is better odds than the knowledge that all earthly civilizations have eventually failed.

I personally have found belonging to and attending an ELCA Lutheran Church to be helpful. I find its earthly benefits to be sufficient, whether or not there is an afterlife. I will, of course, be attending around Christmas time. I will also be getting together with family.

I recognize, too, that not everyone is interested in one of the traditional religions. Some would even like to believe that with our advanced science, we can now find a way around every problem that confronts us. Perhaps this time is different. Perhaps this time, world leaders, with their love for overhead-heavy solutions, will finally discover a solution that can produce long-term growth on a finite earth. Perhaps energy from fusion is around the corner. Wish! Wish!

My wish to you is that you have Happy Holidays, of whatever types you choose to celebrate!

 



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How the Coronavirus has Altered the Course of Human History


3. Talking about work culture and management culture – how will they be impacted by Covid-19? Will more and more people opt for working remotely, feeling more secure this way? Will it become a new normal?

This is such a unique period in history because the normal s-curve adoption rates in many areas of tech have been replaced with a straight vertical line. Anyone who can possibly work from home has been forced to learn all the tools and apps necessary to become functional in that type of environment.

Workers have had to learn on-demand food delivery apps like Uber Eats, GrubHub, Caviar, and Doordash; grocery delivery apps like Instacart, Peapod, and AmazonFresh; and supply delivery apps like Dolly, Amazon, UPS, and Postmates.

Dark stores, dark supermarkets, and ghost restaurants are quickly replacing traditional retailers with non-customer-facing distribution centers. A ghost restaurant is a food service business that serves customers exclusively through delivery of online orders. Many are being designed to facilitate a “click-and-collect” service for those wanting to drive up and take home the orders themselves.

The work-from-home culture requires a unique set of tools like fiber to the home, WiFi, and VPNs for security. It requires state-of-the-art hardware, computer, mouse, large display, camera, microphone, and keyboard. Workers need to be proficient in messaging tools like Slack, Teams, Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. They also need to be well-versed in video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, and BlueJeans.

Ironically, most traditional colleges are not teaching the necessary skills for online tools and apps. Most home-based workers will need a solid understanding of collaborative tools such as Google Suite, Office 365, Office, and Quip; project management and workflow tools like Airtable, Trello, Jira, and Clubhouse; and file storage apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud. 

However, there is much more involved in having people work-from-home than tools, apps, and hardware. Workers need to be motivated self-starters, with good time-management skills, who feel comfortable in the isolation of their own homes. Managers need to manage differently. And homes will need the dedicated space conducive to home-based businesses. For example, young kids at home make it difficult to focus and conduct a Zoom call.

In general, we should expect to see a sharp increase in work-from-home operations, but at the same time, we’ll also see a sharp increase in demand for coworking spaces that fulfill our need for social contact in a collaborative workspace environment.

4. What about our daily routines and lifestyles – when the pandemic is over, how are they going to change in general? Are we going to travel less and feel more insecure in the globalized world? Which consequences may it bring?

For people all over the planet, the COVID-19 crisis is a deeply personal experience.

Some are watching every newscast waiting for the next update. Others are scrambling to reengineer their own career path to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Many are living in a state of fear, not knowing where their next meal will come from or who will take care of their children.

Every newscast is building on the fear and panic, driving many into a state of depression, anger, and hopelessness. Savvy politicians are trying to reposition their agenda to take advantage of it. No one is being left unscathed.

This is a pandemic that will never end. It will leave deep scars on both the social and business fabric of society. For many industries, like those working in travel and vacation businesses, the recovery will take years, maybe decades.

The entire world is now much more aware of itself than ever in the past. The crisis becomes the common thread we all share, and we feel comfortable sharing our own personal experiences with online acquaintances on the other side of the world.

For most of us, if we’re not in survival mode, we’re keeping a close eye on how close we’re getting to it. We’re constantly looking for signs of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, and random acts of kindness to give us the inspiration to move forward.

Many older workers, still clinging to the social moorings of their past will decide to permanently retire.

Ten Trends

While there are many scenarios we can envision for how the coming years will unfold, and how this brief moment in time will permanently alter the course of history, here are a few trend lines that make sense to me.

  1. This will go down in the history books as the most expensive crisis in all history. Every country is having to engineer a bailout package to save their businesses and put food on the table for the average worker. Over the coming month, inflation will raise its ugly head as the infusion of new capital begins to create a whole new set of problems.
  2. Governments will vow to be more digital, more prepared, and more crisis-ready. At the same time, they will attempt to take back much of the power and control they’ve lost to multinational corporations. They will also vow to never let a single disease shut down the world ever again.
  3. COVID-19 has been both a unifying force and a divider of worlds. Even as people are becoming more open and conversant with our remotest regions of the planet, wealthy people are becoming more entrenched and determined to protect their assets.
  4. The healthcare industry should be prepared for some radical overhauls. They were neither prepared nor capable of managing the myriad of problems that arose. The healthcare system has been a failure for victims of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, meningitis, malaria, and a variety of other diseases. We have now reached the breaking point. While the individual healthcare workers have performed extraordinarily well, it has pointed out some deep-seated flaws in healthcare systems all over the world. Both governments and its citizens will demand more.
  5. Every movie, television show, book, game, comic book, and research study produced before COVID-19 will suddenly feel dated.
  6. The airline industry will soon be transformed from the cattle car experience of hauling large numbers of people in cramped spaces around the world to something a bit more humane. It will take a long time to rebuild the industry to the traffic levels of the pre-2020 glory years.
  7. Our great study-at-home experiment will change education forever. Virtually every parent and child in the world has gotten a taste of what homeschooling is all about, and many will not want to go back to the same government-run schools. This, combined with emerging technology that will make education far more hyper-individualized, and we suddenly have the “perfect storm” for education to be transformed
  8. Dealing with a common enemy is a great unifying force. It’s much harder for people from another country, race, religion, or culture to be viewed as a threat when you’ve both endured the trying times of a global crisis.
  9. Cocooning is about to become a new social norm. There’s something very therapeutic about being able to hit the “pause button” on all the stresses of daily life and cuddle up in your own cocoon.
  10. The unintended consequences will be huge. In much the same way a magician uses sleight-of-hand movements to distract us from what’s really going on, we will see countless books written on being blindsided by the unintended consequences resulting from the fixes, patches, and corrections engineered by our politicians.



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All-Weather Performance Apparel : Vallier



Canadian all-weather apparel brand, Vallier, debuted its Spring/Summer 2020 collection with sophisticated styles for both men and women that fuse form and function. The brand launched in 2019 using the knowledge of over 35 years curating technical clothing to create high-end “better urban living” basics. The Spring/Summer series ranges from premium tees to elevated jumpers and includes an ultra-versatile shirt-jacket and matching pants for men in abrasion-resistant material alongside a classic button-down shirt dress in a soft eco-friendly crepe material for women.

Maxime Dubois, the Co-CEO of Vallier, commented “True to our core values, our new spring-summer lineup features minimalist designs in technical, sustainable fabrics. For this collection, we paid special attention to silhouette and comfort, with details that move with you no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We used Sorona by Dupont and Tencel—renewably sourced materials— to support our goal of being increasingly environmentally conscious.”

The Spring/Summer series from Vallier is available in April on altitude-sprots.com with styles ranging from $30 to $190.



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Here Are 42(0) Weed Jokes • High Times


In these weird, scary, and stressful time, we all could use a little humor. This is a list of 42 stupid stoner quips, puns, and jokes about parenting and weed. Read ‘em and laugh, or read ‘em and weep—your choice! But whatever you do, don’t read ‘em sober.

1. Why did the mom smoke a fatty before she went to the parents’ association meeting?
Because she knew it would help her be less blunt

2. What do you call parents who connect over their love of cannabis?
Buds

3. What do you call an alien who smokes weed?
A cannabinoid

4. How does a mom stay slim during a bad case of the munchies?
She counts carbs

5. How do parents stay focused when the kids are out of control?Concentrates

6. How much weed does it take to help moms and dads relax when the kids are quarantined from school?
Just a dab

7. What do you call a cup of coffee with CBD in it?
Danka

8. Why did the church bake sale committee reprimand the parent (but then party with them later)?
Instead of using stevia in the brownies, they accidentally used sativa

9. How do dads who are bad at math help their kids with arithmetic homework?
They think about eighths and quarters, ounces and grams, dime and nickel bags

10. How do two moms whose kids haven’t been getting along at school resolve their issues?
They hash it out

11. Why was the dad mad when he and his wife divorced?
She got joint custody

12. Why are some family’s houses super messy?
Because some days when it comes to cleaning, parents just don’t ‘juana

13. Where do moms who don’t smoke weed go on vacation?
To a topical island

14. What do you call a parent who gives weed to the college dean as a bribe to let their child into the school?
Dope

15. What do you call moms who get high and then do all their recycling?
Double green

16. Why did the parents smoke extra weed the summer their child graduated from 8th grade?
They were preparing for their kid to go to high school

17. How did the mom know it was time to get toasted?
Because she heard the town clock bong twice

18. How did the high society crowd know the dad was pro-cannabis?
Because at the party, he served cheese on stoned wheat thins, smoked fish, and lots of delicious edibles

19. How did the mom make extra money to help support the family?
She started a puff-puff pastry business

20. What is the preferred breakfast for weed-loving parents?
Hash browns and greens

21. Why do some moms put certain elements from cannabis into their coffee?
To make it CBDlicious

22. What did the dad give to the stoner mom for her birthday?
A big bag of flowers

23. Why did the mom hit it off with her kid’s English tutor?
Because she agreed that weeding is fundamental

24. Why did the dad sneak pot into his carry on during a trip to Iceland?
He wanted a guaranteed sighting of northern lights

25. What’s better than a grumpy sister?
A doobie brother

26. What does a mom call the box where she stores the Js she doesn’t quite get to finish?
The roach motel

27. Why did the dad get kicked out of the zoo on a class trip?
Because he tried to introduce the bears to some weed gummy bears

28. Why didn’t the mom want to go down the alley to buy weed out of the back of the guy’s car?
Because it was too seedy

29. Why did the dad get fired from McDonald’s?
Because he was using the drive-thru to sell ¼ pounds instead of quarter pounders

30. Why did the mom send her kids to the female-run dojo?
Because there was just something that she liked about the instructor, Sensei Amelia

31. What do you call a parent who hates weed and fights to make it so people can’t have access to it?
A canna-beeyotch

32. Why did the dad shave off his beard?
Because he was happy as long as he had his ‘stache

33. What is a stoner mom’s favorite vegetable?
Jazz cabbage

34. Where do parents hide their stash?
Between the kush-ions

35. What weather to stoner moms best like to get high in?
When it’s dank outside (or when there’s a purple haze in the sky)

36. What is a weed-loving mom’s favorite seasoning?
It’s a special blend of herbs and spices

37. What’s a quick dinner every parent loves?
A big serving of tasty nugs

38. Why couldn’t the mom offer her visiting friend any weed brownies?Because they were all ganja (gone-ja)

39. What did the mom say when her college-aged son asked for some of her stash?
Leaf me alone

40. What did the mom say when her partner came home with a big old bag of sticky icky buds for her?
Hemp Hemp hooray!

41. Why did the mom set a book on top of her husband’s hair as a table to roll her J?
Because she was trying to plant a seed in his head.

42. What happens when stoner moms go too long without their beloved weed?
They gets the shakes



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An Alternative Approach To Improving Your Quality Of Life


CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemicals found in the marijuana plant, which is widely accepted as a natural remedy for varying health conditions. With more states legalizing the plant, you’re no doubt seeing a rise in products that contain the CBD compound. Using the natural remedy in its many forms has potential benefits that people of many ages can use to their advantage. In fact, researchers are seeing some interesting, and positive, things happen as the medicinal plant becomes more widely used. If you haven’t tried it yet, it might be worth it, especially if you have specific health problems. Just keep in mind that you should always determine the legal boundaries that may surround usage in certain regions.

 

Using Natural Remedies

Before you can understand how using natural remedies might be beneficial for you, it’s a good idea to learn more about how you would use it, something that’s especially important if you’re new to the concept. The traditional, and perhaps most widespread, way to consume the plant is through joint rolling and smoking. Some people also use a pipe to smoke the plant. With its legalization, there are many other ways to use the product, including edibles like candy and baked goods, oils that are ingested or applied topically, and patches that deliver the beneficial compound to your body in regulated doses. It can also be consumed through vaping, formulated capsules, in beverages, or through creams that you rub into your skin. The manner in which you intake the leafy green medicine depends on why you’re using it and what your personal preferences are. Some people find that they love it in one form and hate it in another. Keep reading to find out how this incredible natural remedy can improve the quality of life for so many people.

 

Treating Health Problems

There are many reasons people turn to this natural remedy for both health and quality of life. Many people use it to help them relax, while others might use it for pain relief since it helps loosen muscles. People with chronic pain associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis and movement disorders report relief when they consume the CBD compound in specific. It has also been used to treat mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other uses include treating digestive problems, helping people reduce their opioid usage, and to reduce the symptoms associated with cancer treatment. Those with appetite issues, insomnia, and other sleep disturbances have also found it provides them with relief from these issues.

 

Creates Jobs

There’s more to quality of life than being healthy, though that’s one of the most significant factors. However, there are other things at play when it comes to living a good life, and having a well-paying job is one of them. Since legalizing the plant in many states, there is a whole new sector in regards to the job market. The industry employs a wide range of people, from scientists to salespeople, and that helps battle unemployment and gives people another option when it comes to finding work. For example, the industry in Colorado has created some 283,000 jobs since legalization. Lower unemployment rates take the pressure off the taxpayer and help people remain in their homes and take care of their families. Therefore the medicinal plant will not just improve your quality of life but those around you as well.

 

Reduces Crime

Living in a place with low crime rates naturally equates to a higher quality of life. Many proponents of legalization worried that crime would go up, but the opposite is true. Not only has teen usage dropped dramatically since 2014, but the crime rates have gone down too. Both violent crime and property crime have lowered in states that have legalized medical consumption. Besides, since the plant has easier to use, alcohol usage has gone down, which has led to fewer highway fatalities and automobile accidents. Therefore the legal changes have actually reduced crime significantly.

 

If you’re not a consumer of the plant, adding it to your lifestyle might prove beneficial, especially if you suffer from health problems. However, if you aren’t interested in it, don’t start without notable reason. As with any sort of remedy for health improvement, it’s best to talk over the decision with your doctor before giving it a try. However, if you do decide to go ahead, you may be surprised at how it can improve your life.

 

 

 

 

 



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The No-Till Revolution | Cannabis Now


Josh Khankhanian walks barefoot through his Mendocino cannabis farm, pulling up pointed dark green leaves of comfrey and dropping them back on the soil. It’s the first day of October, which is an active time at any outdoor cannabis farm, but Khankhanian exudes an air of lucid calm as he decides which plants should be harvested today at Moon Gazer Farms.

Khankhanian’s walk takes him through tangled rows of beautiful cannabis in full flower, nestled around other plants, flowers and herbs. Comfrey, Jerusalem artichokes, bergamot, bog sage, holy basil, kale, fava beans, calendula and torch tithonia (also known as Mexican sunflower) all find a place among the farm’s raised soil mounds.

“Diversity is the big thing here, that’s why we have a lot of diverse kinds of plants,” Khankhanian tells me as we walk through the garden. “But even within the cannabis [on our farm], it’s as diverse as it can be. When you plant from seed, every plant is different.”    

PHOTO Claire Weissbluth

Moon Gazer Farms is the vision Khankhanian created with his wife and business partner, Sandra Khankhanian. By growing sustainable cannabis, the farm provides the pair with the means they need to live on their country homestead while raising their four-and-a-half month old twins Leo and David.

The farm’s cannabis crop comes in small batches, which can be as low as one or two pounds per strain per season or as high as 40 to 50 pounds, and every strain is grown from seed. While they do work with established genetics, Josh and Sandra also create their own strains from genetics they acquire from friends. Moon Gazer offerings include unique strains like Cherry Lemonade, an Athena Cherry Kush x Lemon Bliss cross, and Pinkle Jam, a Pinkleberry Kush x Jamaican Lions cross.

On my day in the garden, Josh and Sandra are joined by two young sisters with sunny dispositions and boundless energy who help with the children and the cannabis harvest. After I meet the crew, I duck among the rows of plants, pulling in the scent of fresh herb ready for harvest and marveling at the purple hairs on some of the buds. I pull a bunch of bergamot to make into a tea and I eat a lemon cucumber straight off the vine, taking in the clean crisp refreshment on the warm day. Later, I share a joint with the crew under the shade of a tree and the whole scene feels both idyllic and purposeful. Sandra tells me this is the place where she is supposed to be.

“We’re pot farmers,” she says. “I love weed, I smoke weed, this is what she wants me to do. You know? This is what we want to do together. This is our collaboration.”

Hügelkultur for Herb

Josh, who is originally from Los Angeles, and Sandra, who is originally from Michigan, met on a goat farm in Israel in 2010. They started their lives as farmers in California’s Mendocino County on a biodynamic vegetable farm and married in 2016, which is the same year they moved to their current property and started to grow cannabis, first as medical providers and then, following the opening of California’s recreational cannabis marketplace in 2018, for adult-use sales.

When it comes to their farming practices, Josh and Sandra pull a lot of inspiration from Jesse Dodd, the grower behind the Arcata-based cannabis project Biovortex. With Biovortex, Dodd promotes regenerative cannabis agriculture, which is defined as farming practices that rebuild soil and restore biodiversity. To spread the word, Dodd created a Regenerative Cannabis Farm Award that was first presented at the Emerald Cup, the premiere event for outdoor cannabis, in 2016.

Moon Gazer, which ended up winning the Regenerative Cannabis Farm Award in its inaugural year alongside Green Source Gardens and Dragonfly Earth Medicine, grows most of its cannabis with the hügelkultur technique, which involves creating a mound with decaying wood and filling it with compostable materials to create a rich soil.

“Hügel is basically like a lasagna layer of different things,” Josh explains. “We’ll layer some logs first, preferably oaks because they break down real nice — fungal life really likes the oaks — and then we’ll layer it with straw and material from our goat barn.”

These raised soil beds mean that Moon Gazer is a “no-till” cannabis farm, because the soil is not disturbed, instead it is built upon itself year after year. Proponents of no-till farming say that it helps protect soil from erosion, traps moisture in the soil and improves the health of soil microorganisms.

“It’s mostly just layering carbon,” Josh says. “We’re able to grow this way and be sustained because we’re growing on a small scale. To me, it’s super ideal to do this no-till system where we literally are not tilling the soil, we’re not disturbing the soil at all, we’re just layering. I like to say we’re giving back always to the earth, we’re not doing any disturbance.”

While there are still some plants planted directly into the soil at Moon Gazer Farms, most of the approximately 150 plants of about 30 different strains grown from seed are now planted in these layered beds.

“We love Hügels, we’re going to keep building Hügel,” Sandra says. “Actually somebody thought we should name one of the boys ‘Hügel’… [Hügelkultur] is about using what you have, which is what we’re all about.” 

Choppin’ & Droppin’ 

A big part of growing cannabis in a regenerative manner involves creating a rich soil from elements sourced on the land. That means Moon Gazer often uses their other crops to support the soil that feeds their cannabis. “The comfrey is a really big aspect of our fertility program,” Josh says of the leafy shrub, which has been noted for its medicinal properties as far back as 400 BCE. “Our goal as a regenerative farm is to be as closed loop as we can be. So we’re not bringing in inputs from the store, we’re not buying liquid fertilizer. These comfrey and other plants like nettles, they’ve got tons of nice micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients too.” 

Comfrey, which Josh explains can also be brewed into a tea and poured directly onto the cannabis plant’s roots, provides the soil with nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. It is an excellent plant in terms of its ability to regenerate, so it’s pulled up regularly.  

“We’ll go through a few times a season, we’re choppin’ and droppin’,” he says. 

Function Stacking 

Josh explains that under the biodynamic growing style, certain plants are great “function stackers,” meaning they fill many roles on the farm at once. For example, the Jerusalem artichoke is a root vegetable the family can eat, it has flowers to feed and attract pollinators, it provides a biomass that goes into building the soil and it can serve as food for the goats. At Moon Gazer Farms, the goats are often put to use on the cleanup crew. 

On the day of my visit, Josh invites me to help with the harvest and I put on gloves and grab some trimming shears and break down a Sapphire Sue, a strain rich in CBD. I trim off the branches by finding the natural y-shaped hooks that the sections will be hung to dry from. Then, I join others in the garden to “big leaf” the crop, or remove the large fan leaves. Once I fill a bucket with the leaves, I bring them over to the goat enclosure, where the goats are ecstatic for their mid-afternoon snack. While I watch the goats munch on fresh weed leaves, I note the silhouette of the moon against the last of the day’s light. Back in the garden, Josh is humble and says he’s growing all of this amazing outdoor herb “following the rhythm and cycles of the moon and the photoperiod of the sun.”

“Really,” he says, “what we do is we grow the soil and the plants grow themselves.”

TELL US, have you ever seen cannabis growing outdoors?





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Canadian Cannabis Firms Brace for COVID-19, Potential Fallout


In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, U.S. and Canadian cannabis companies have a unique opportunity to aid those in need. Not only are their cannabis products increasingly being deemed essential by governments—but they also have the facilities, personnel and protocols already in place to fill the desperate need for medical supplies. 

These three companies are using those advantages to help their communities.

Aloha Green Apothecary

Photo courtesy of Aloha Green Apothecary

In Hawaii, Aloha Green Apothecary is producing hand sanitizer for its employees and patients, with plans to ramp up production as much as possible to donate hand sanitizer to other businesses and organizations in the state.

“We’re just trying our best to meet our patients’ needs and follow the law with all the changes in law that the government is laying down,” Tai Cheng, a spokesperson for Aloha Green Apothecary, told Cannabis Business Times.

The vertically integrated company, located in Oahu, has been deemed essential after all non-essential businesses were ordered to shut down. And since the outbreak, sales have increased.

Aloha Green Apothecary has always maintained strict security and sanitation protocols, but the company has implemented additional measures as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hand sanitizer has always been available near the entrance and exit of the dispensary, Cheng said, but the team placed hand sanitizer at every point-of-sale station amid coronavirus concerns, which meant the company needed a larger supply. As local stores started selling out, Aloha Green Apothecary tried to buy hand sanitizer from its wholesalers and distributors, but they, too, were sold out.

The Aloha Green Apothecary team then started hearing reports from patients that they were lining up outside big box stores early in the morning to purchase hand sanitizer, and that stores were implementing purchase limits. That’s when the company decided to make hand sanitizer and provide it to patients for free.

Photo courtesy of Aloha Green Apothecary

Aloha Green Apothecary dedicated its ethanol, mixing systems, worktables and filling machines to hand sanitizer production in order to provide hand sanitizer to its employees and patients.

“We’re sitting on a lot of ethanol and other alcohols because of the extraction process,” Cheng said. “We had a lot of ethanol available in our lab, and the scientists in the lab said it’s not too difficult to make hand sanitizer. We just have to make sure it meets at least 60% alcohol content to be effective, according to the [World Health Organization]. We already make topicals … [and] a bunch of [other products] that are similar. We just don’t make a cleanser, but we thought, why not? We’ll give it a try so we can at least stock up our own retail dispensaries with sanitizer, as well as our office.”

Cheng said the company stopped making its topicals altogether to dedicate its mixing system, worktables and filling machines to hand sanitizer production.

“We have a lot [of ethanol], but of course all these alcohols are in high demand as supply chains are disrupted because of the coronavirus,” Cheng said. “We have no risk of running out with just our patients, but we have received inquiries from the state government, local convenience store chains, and other offices and businesses to supply them with sanitizer, just because they’re running out, as well. So, we’re going to try our best to maintain our ability to give sanitizer away for free to our current patients, and we’re going to try to make [a] larger volume [of] sanitizer to give away to some of those offices and companies so they can maintain some safety for their employees.”

CannaCraft

Similarly, CannaCraft in Santa Rosa, Calif., found itself in dire need of hand sanitizer for its own employees and to ensure safety during retail deliveries.

After cannabis companies in California were deemed essential, CannaCraft started implementing the same types of extra sanitation measures, including splitting shifts, work-from-home policies where possible, as well as extreme sanitation of “any doorknob, faucet handle or coffee maker or phone, printer—anything more than one person was touching,” Tiffany Devitt, CannaCraft’s President of Wellness, said.

The company also wanted to make sure sanitation extended beyond the facility and into dispensaries, not only for deliveries but also for dispensary staff and consumer access. Hand sanitizer immediately came to mind.

Like Aloha Green Apothecary, CannaCraft’s team already procures ethanol that they use for product manufacturing at their 40,000-square-foot facility. Similarly, because they produce topicals, they had other valuable items on-hand already, like aloe, and thousands of pump containers, which coincidentally were leftover from the state’s “pre-regulatory era,” Devitt said. “We had initially used them for our topicals, but they weren’t child resistant, so we discontinued that packaging … That was sort of a delightful consequence of regulation.”

Plus, being so highly regulated, their facility was well-equipped for the task. They’re frequently inspected by

Photo courtesy of CannaCraft

CannaCraft pulled its R&D team off its current projects and tasked them with formulating and filling hand sanitizer under the company’s Care by Design brand.

the California Department of Public Health and the Sonoma County Department of Health Services. Sometimes those inspections last up to seven hours. Having well-documented procedures and training is “second nature” to CannaCraft, Devitt said.

CannaCraft pulled its R&D team off its current projects and tasked them with formulating and filling hand sanitizer under the company’s Care by Design brand. Devitt said having PhDs and regulatory liaisons on staff helped this process go smoothly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also loosened up its regulatory guidelines to make it easier for people to respond in real-time to the crisis, she adds, so the team was able to produce a formula and quickly ensure it complied with FDA guidelines.

The first batch of hand sanitizer CannaCraft produced went home with employees for their families. The second batch is being shipped out directly to dispensary customers with their orders. The company has also gotten several requests from local nonprofits, especially those who work with the elderly population, and so they’ll work to distribute those as they’re able. All the hand sanitizer produced by CannaCraft will be donated.

Interestingly, the manufacturing of the hand sanitizer did not significantly impact production of CannaCraft’s cannabis products, Devitt said, adding, “We have about 150 different products, so tossing one more product in did not ruffle them in the least.”

Keirton, Inc. (Twister Trimmer)

Even companies in the cannabis supply chain that aren’t plant-touching are offering up ways to be of service during the pandemic.

Product engineering and idea development company Keirton, Inc., which produces Twister Trimmer cannabis trimming equipment and has facilities in Surrey, British Columbia and Ferndale, Wash., has opened up a call to its supply chain to offer networking, as well as its facilities, to assist in the making of ventilators.

Last week, Keirton, Inc. CEO Jay Evans posted to LinkedIn making the announcement: 

“During these difficult times, I believe it’s incredibly important for people to pull together to make a difference. It’s been said that ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention.’ At Keirton, innovation has been in our DNA since day one. We have thirteen years of industry expertise in creating precision electromechanical machines used in Health Canada regulated GMP facilities across our country and EU-GMP facilities across Europe. Today, we are in a good position to temporarily pivot on our core range of products and assist in the much needed development of medical ventilators.”

Soon after, comments began pouring in from consultants, manufacturing companies and horticulture companies, offering ideas and suggestions to help get the idea rolling. Evans told Cannabis Business Times in an interview that the company has now been in touch with the Canadian federal government and added to a list of supporters; has been supporting some companies in the design phase of ventilators; and is open to using their production space in B.C. for their manufacture if that bandwidth is needed.

“We realized we have the expertise to design something quite quickly, especially if the government would open source the design for us,” Evans told Cannabis Business Times in an interview. “We could design it, produce it and start manufacturing quite fast.”

Keirton, Inc. has PhDs, chemists and engineers on staff, access to a clean room, and vendors from around the globe, Evans said, but their biggest advantage, he says, is their ability to adapt in these unprecedented times. “We’re very nimble. We’re not a huge company so we’re able to maneuver quickly,” he said.

In the meantime, demand has also shot up for its trimming equipment as cannabis companies are trying to keep up with production. “One of the things we can help companies with is bringing some of our solutions to them, and not replacing their people, but augmenting the people they have in making them more productive and allowing them to use those people in more high-value areas of business,” Evans said.

Evans added that he doesn’t anticipate the balance between ventilator assistance and the current manufacturing of its trimming equipment will be an issue, given the company has inventory in place and extra capacity if necessary. He added that potential layoffs in other sectors may help provide opportunities for support if the extra capacity is needed.

“It’s important for us, cannabis being deemed an essential service that the industry keeps supplying quality, safe cannabis and we can help anyone out there who needs that assistance, either with our equipment or our advice,” Evans said. “Anywhere we can help, we’d love to help.”



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Study debunks claims against cannabis retail


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An Elite Spy Group Used 5 Zero-Days to Hack North Koreans


Most North Koreans don’t spend much of their lives in front of a computer. But some of the lucky few who do, it seems, have been hit with a remarkable arsenal of hacking techniques over the last year—a sophisticated spying spree that some researchers suspect South Korea may have pulled off.

Cybersecurity researchers at Google’s Threat Analysis Group today revealed that an unnamed group of hackers used no fewer than five zero-day vulnerabilities, secret hackable flaws in software, to target North Koreans and North Korea-focused professionals in 2019. The hacking operations exploited flaws in Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Windows with phishing emails that carried malicious attachments or links to malicious sites, as well as so-called watering hole attacks that planted malware on victims’ machines when they visited certain websites that had been hacked to infect visitors via their browsers.

Google declined to comment on who might be responsible for the attacks, but Russian security firm Kaspersky tells WIRED it has linked Google’s findings with DarkHotel, a group that has targeted North Koreans in the past and is suspected of working on behalf of the South Korean government.

South Koreans spying on a northern adversary that frequently threatens to launch missiles across the border is not unexpected. But the country’s ability to use five zero days in a single spy campaign within a year represents a surprising level of sophistication and resources. “Finding this many zero-day exploits from the same actor in a relatively short time frame is rare,” writes Google TAG researcher Toni Gidwani in the company’s blog post. “The majority of targets we observed were from North Korea or individuals who worked on North Korea-related issues,” In a followup email, Google clarified that a subset of the victims were not merely from North Korea, but in the country, suggesting that these targets weren’t North Korean defectors, whom the North Korean regime frequently targets.

Within hours of Google linking the zero-day vulnerabilities to attacks targeting North Koreans, Kaspersky was able to match two of the vulnerabilities—one in Windows, one in Internet Explorer—with those it has specifically tied to DarkHotel. The security firm had previously seen those bugs exploited to plant known DarkHotel malware on their customers’ computers. (Those DarkHotel-linked attacks occurred before Microsoft patched its flaws, Raiu says, suggesting that DarkHotel wasn’t merely reusing another group’s vulnerabilities.) Since Google attributed all five zero-days to a single hacker group, “it’s quite likely that all of them are related to DarkHotel,” Raiu says.

Raiu points out that DarkHotel has a long history of hacking North Korean and Chinese victims, with a focus on espionage. “They’re interested in getting information such as documents, emails, pretty much any bit of data they can from these targets,” he says. Raiu declined to speculate on what country’s government might be behind the group. But DarkHotel is widely suspected of working on behalf of the South Korean government, and the Council on Foreign Relations names DarkHotel’s suspected state sponsor as the Republic of Korea.

DarkHotel’s hackers are believed to have been active since at least 2007, but Kaspersky gave the group its name in 2014 when it discovered that the group was compromising hotel Wi-Fi networks to carry out highly targeted attacks against specific hotel guests based on their room numbers. In just the last three years, Raiu says Kaspersky has found DarkHotel using three zero-day vulnerabilities beyond the five now linked to the group based on Google’s blog post. “They’re probably one of the actors that’s the most resourceful in the world when it comes to deploying zero days,” Raiu says. “They seem to be doing all this stuff in-house, not using code from other sources. It says a lot about their technical skills. They’re very good.”



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