What I'm Reading (May 16)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — May 16, 2024
Stoner meds – from weed to psychedelics Glaciers melt, gravity tugs; do sea levels rise ? From Cantonese feasts to Szechuan's fire, Tax codes weave complexity
Image by Süleyman Akbulut from Pixabay

It is impossible to walk the streets of New York City without smelling the unmistakable aroma of weed. Despite licensure and taxes on legal marijuana dispensaries, there are 1500 illegal storefront sources for pot, and that doesn’t begin to consider the mobile delivery to homes – none of which the City or State has an effective means to shut down.

“The legalization of cannabis in the United States—the biggest change in policy for an illegal substance since Prohibition ended—has been an unqualified success for approximately no one. True, the drug is widely available for commercial purchase, many marijuana-related charges have been dropped, and stoner culture has become more aligned with designer smoking paraphernalia featured on Goop than the bumbling spaciness of Cheech and Chong. But a significant part of the market is still underground, medical research is scant, and the aboveground market is not exactly thriving. Longtime marijuana activists are unhappy. Entrepreneurs are unhappy. So are people who buy weed, as well as those who think weed should never have been legal in the first place.”

It is an interesting piece comparing the state of weed to the soon medicalization and then legalization of the psychedelics. From The Atlantic, Almost No One Is Happy With Legal Weed


Living on a long but, at times, narrow island, the idea of a rising sea level, while not a constant concern, occasionally bubbles up. I’ve written about the real estate concerns of sea level rise for THE Hamptons, but what if I am getting the actual physics wrong?

“What happens when a big glacier like the Greenland Ice Sheet melts?

Three things happen. One is that you’re dumping all of this meltwater into the ocean. So the mass of the entire ocean would definitely be going up if ice sheets were melting—as they are today. The second thing that happens is that this gravitational attraction that the ice sheet exerts on the surrounding water diminishes. As a consequence, water migrates away from the ice sheet. The third thing is, as the ice sheet melts, the land underneath the ice sheet pops up; it rebounds.

So what is the combined impact of the ice-sheet melt, water flow, and diminished gravity?

Gravity has a very strong effect. So what happens when an ice sheet melts is sea level falls in the vicinity of the melting ice sheet.”

From Nautil.us, Why Our Intuition About Sea-Level Rise Is Wrong


While I grew up with Cantonese food as what I thought was meant by “Chinese food,” the arrival of the food of Szechuan with the spiciness that I already had found to love in LA’s Mexican food married two great cultural profiles. But how do these profiles develop?

“The food of the true revolutionary is the red pepper,” declared Mao. “And he who cannot endure red peppers is also unable to fight.’


The puzzle starts to take shape. Personality: risk-taking immigrants on the move. Economics: a cheap and easy-to-grow option for adding flavor to a constrained diet. Weather and culture: a hot and humid climate, and yin and yang medical philosophy. Taken together, we see the formation of a culture, the beginning of an identity.”

From Nautil.us, Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food


The tax code goes on for pages and can only be deciphered by the high priests of taxation, accountants. But perhaps we can all understand this.

“Why do the world’s most fortunate people pay among the least in taxes, relative to the amount of money they make?

The simple answer is that while most of us live off our salaries, tycoons like Jeff Bezos live off their wealth. In 2019, when Mr. Bezos was still Amazon’s chief executive, he took home an annual salary of just $81,840. But he owns roughly 10 percent of the company, which made a profit of $30 billion in 2023.

If Amazon gave its profits back to shareholders as dividends, which are subject to income tax, Mr. Bezos would face a hefty tax bill. But Amazon does not pay dividends to its shareholders. Neither does Berkshire Hathaway or Tesla. Instead, the companies keep their profits and reinvest them, making their shareholders even wealthier.”

To quote Vox, "prepare to be incensed." From the NY Times, It’s Time to Tax the Billionaires

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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