apparently, even bread and potatoes can kill you now

Oh no, it’s happening again. Everything’s trying to kill me. The rain’s trying to drive my car off the road into a watery grave. I caught my dogs trying to practice their knife fighting skills last night. The elves that inhabit my dreams are telling me to burn things. And, oh no, my bread is poisoning me, and, wait, what? What?

Oh yes, my friends. They’re at it again. Science has determined that bread, or potatoes, or other starches are a carcinogen that can kill you. Truly.

Humans have been consuming bread and potatoes for like 10,000 years. If these things cause cancer, then the very air you breathe must do so as well. But this supposed breathtaking science news was given front billing on the BBC. So everybody’s going to read this and wonder what’s going on. As a brief aside, I’ve noticed that the BBC believes the world is composed entirely of vicious death traps. If I claimed that cutting your grass led to lymphoma, I’d get published in the BBC overnight.

Well, we at TAP are here to help. We’ll leaf through this insanity because we’re insane, and bored, and don’t want junk science giving our tasty food choices an undeserved bad name.

The idea is that acrylamide, a naturally occurring chemical, is a supposed carcinogen. When you fry or heat starches such as bread or potatoes above certain temperatures, acrylamide naturally appears in that food. It also naturally appears in other stuff such as coffee.

So the scientists have decided the solution to reduce your risk of cancer is to heat starches in manner that reduces the risk that acrylamide will appear. In other words, don’t always fry potatoes, boil them. Toast your bread, but not too much. Uh, okay.

First off, six sentences into the BBC report, this juicy line appears:

“However, Cancer Research UK said the link was not proven in humans.”

Oh, you, you mean nobody’s actually proved it’s a carcinogen. Oh.

Plus, may I remind you that acrylamide is naturally occurring. Humans didn’t invent it, it’s just there. So when the servants toasted the Pharaoh’s bread in 7,634 BC, he ingested acrylamide. If only they’d known to lightly toast the bread, but oh that goofy Pharaoh, he beheaded the last servant who tried that. Also, at some point thereafter, that Pharaoh died. So is it reasonable to conclude that Pharaoh died of acrylamide poisoning? Hey, why not?!

But wait, the scientists say! Acrylamide is actually a poison. If you ingest too much of it at once it’s toxic, you die. Governments regulate industries that leach out natural acrylamide and use it in industrial processes. So since it’s a poison, it makes sense that it’s a carcinogen, right?

Well, no, I’m afraid. I don’t quite agree. For you see, any substance, on the entire planet, can kill you if you ingest it with excess. Even water, yes freaking water, is toxic if you drink too much of it at once. So making the scientific assumption that just because a massive amount of acrylamide will kill you, thus indicates that even a little acrylamide will ultimately kill you, is worthy of third grade chemistry.

If you want to know why people don’t trust science, and why folks believe vaccines don’t work, or that climate change isn’t happening, I give you example A as to why folks distrust science.

Even if acrylamide is actually a carcinogen, I’m pretty sure it’s like a 0.000085% increase. If you have to devolve the cancer warnings to the point that folks have to divest bread and potatoes, you might as well post a warning asking folks never to leave their front doors each day. Hey it’s dangerous out there folks! Life kills!

Man, all this typing sure does make me hungry. Think I’ll go get a grilled cheese sandwich, with extra toasted bread. [gives cancer the finger] Thanks science, you’re swell. You’ve inspired me to add some enjoyment to my life before I some day become a bleached skeleton. Cheers!

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the balance with life

For the first time this year, American deaths by drug overdose will overtake deaths by car accident.   If you loosely add in the suicides per year that can directly be traced to drug use as the primary causation, you enter an era where over 50K people a year are dying this way.  No other cause of death not related to old age or cancer (fuck cancer) even comes close.

In one of the mid-sized counties just north of mine, they have a sign on the way to the airport that logs death’s per year specifically from opioids / heroin.  It’s over 60 lives already this year.  That county is not that big, folks.

When it’s not playing psychotic referee to the sewer that is Washington politics, The Washington Post can actually output some high quality journalism.  They’ve run a multi-part series examining this issue in detail.  You should read each part, alongside a shorter but similar piece by BBC Magazine.

In many ways, I’m a freedom based lunatic.  And so for years I’ve been of the impression that the way to end the drug war is to legalize all drugs.  Let folks get high, whatever, tax it, and offer treatment.  However, I’m beginning to wonder if the growing drug lethality upends the game on this issue.

Science, reckless doctors, and pill companies have created drugs that are exponentially more powerful than what was available even 15 years ago.  Where it was once extremely difficult to get clean once you were hooked, it might now be nearly impossible to recover once you’d trained your brain to accept modern opioids.  When you add in the ultra vicious horror story drugs like fentanyl (which apparently is so lethal it can get into your blood if you even touch it), and whatever other death dealing nightmare synthetic drugs science will soon create, it seems we’re at a bit of a crossroads with all of this.

You can probably do a few lines of coke in your day, or smoke hundreds of joints, and come out mostly okay.  With this shit, you can literally die on the first hit, or after just a few months find yourself hooked for life without a way out.

When you add this to the already everpresent overmedication of anti-depressants, and whatever other societal ills you can think of, it becomes quite the balance with death.  It’s moments like this why I barely care about the presidential election.  Nobody has answers for these types of problems that are literally killing tens-of-thousands of Americans a year.  Neither political party is interested in proposing deep core type solutions to tackle these problems.  Instead, they’re chasing that sound byte.  Idiots.

I find more solace in those identified within these articles who are on the street, helping every day.  The elderly councilor aiding dozens in addiction classes, the local mayor putting his ass on the line to identify and fight the problem, a young man who lost his friend and now battles to save others.  When our national leadership is garbage, and the topic is as dark as this, it’s hopeful to know that folks are still fighting to save others with ferocity and compassion.

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Behold the potential cause of America’s downfall.

all hail the bunny

So let’s say it’s 1673, and you’re guzzling Reinheitsgebot beer at a pub in the Duchy of Westphalia. It’s a few days before Easter. Your buddy Carl leans over, wasted, and he’s like, “Hey, you know what, we should get some eggs and color them.” You don’t say a word, because beer is tasty, and you’re not sure if you just heard Carl correctly. And in any case, beer is tasty, so who cares. But then Carl continues, “but the eggs have to appear from somewhere, so a rabbit should bring them to the kids.”

You have no idea where Carl’s brain is, but seeing as how you can’t say nothing, you start with the simple, “Rabbits don’t lay eggs.”

“Right, right, but they can carry them, right?”

Your head hurts, “Rabbits can’t carry things, they don’t have opposable thumbs, and they hop around.”

Carl’s getting frustrated, he pulls on his stein, he needs you to understand the genius that’s at work here, “Okay, okay, but it’s all for fun, so if I say the rabbit can carry eggs, then he’s carrying the freaking eggs.”

“Okay.”

“But the eggs are colored, see,” Carl drinks again, “so that way they’re neat and colorful and you can find them easier.”

You’re barely listening at this point. You motion to the barkeep that you’d like another. But remember, Carl’s your buddy, so you have to play along to some degree. “What was that, about kids?”

“Well, kids get to find the hidden colored eggs.”

“So the rabbit hides eggs?”

“Right.”

“So that kids can then find them?”

“Exactly!”

“Why?”

“Doesn’t matter, because the rabbit wants to, he’s a hopping happy rabbit, or whatever, doesn’t matter. And all the kids search for the eggs, and they’re happy. Because kids like wonderful bright colors, and they like to run around, and play, and find things,” Carl starts chuckling uncontrollably.

Your next beer arrives, you desperately want to drink it, but you take a moment to furrow your brow in frustration. “Okay, okay Carl, so, uh, why would we do this?”

“Because it’s Easter!” Carl shouts as he raps his fist on the bar.

“WHAT do a rabbit, colored eggs, kids have to do with that Jesus guy rising from the dead?”

“Who cares! Everybody will love this.”

“Okay friend, okay.” And because it’s 1673, you put that next beer back in about 30 seconds, and you’re off. As you depart, Carl’s already shouting his idea to somebody else at the bar, who like you, couldn’t care less. And you’re quite certain Carl should have stopped at five beers.

But then it’s 1698, and eggs, bunnies, and color are everywhere. Kids are playing, everybody’s hiding eggs in bushes and under cobblestones, and it’s become an Easter tradition, full of spring joy and life.

Meanwhile, Carl’s made millions off his egg decorating business. And you’re still a day laborer at the local mill. But at least, every time you’re at the pub, Carl offers to buy all your beers.

bunny.jpg

Oh the joy of irrational youth, where my parents could dismiss us from the room and tell us to come back in ten minutes.  And then we’d get back, and Dad would defiantly state the Easter bunny had just stopped by, and hid a whole bunch of eggs in the backyard that we had to find.  We’d just missed him, honest.  Go get the eggs now.  And so we did.

so I guess I’ll have to stop eating meat now?

So that pork dish from Saturday night? Off limits. My Brother’s tasty chili accompanied by his own homemade hot sauce? Not going to happen. That leftover Indian dish I made last week? It’d be like I’m eating shards of glass.

All of this is the path you shall now take. For the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided that meat causes cancer.

Let’s leave aside for a moment that the WHO is tackling this urgent meat-flavored issue when they otherwise seem to have trouble executing their core mission.

Per the BBC:

 

Processed meats – such as bacon, sausages and ham – do cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Its report said 50g of processed meat a day – less than two slices of bacon – increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.

Meanwhile, it said red meats were “probably carcinogenic” but there was limited evidence

 

That’s kind of exact if you ask me. Exactly 50 grams of processed meat equals a 18% chance I commute to Valhalla? How could they possibly get so specific?

That’s like telling me a scientific study has proven that if I drive exactly 13 miles per hour over the speed limit my chances of a twisted metal death are increased by 14%. Would you believe such a stat? I wouldn’t.

And then they go ahead and say straight meat, non-processed variety, is “probably carcinogenic” but then admit they can’t prove it. Well, I say that listening to Justin Bieber is probably carcinogenic, but I can’t prove it. But just take my word for it, okay.

So I guess I’ll have to stop eating meat now? Because they said so?

Let me lay this out for a second. Every human who has consumed food, any food at all, has died. The fatality rate for the consumption of apples is 100%. Everybody who’s ever eaten a piece of fish will ultimately become a bleached skeleton. That’s science you can bet your soul on. It’s 100% guaranteed.

Just ask this guy. He hate some hummus in 69 BC, and look what happened to him:

grave

So is this a license to dip your coffee in bacon fat each morning? Or drive down the road 34 miles over the limit while drunk and listening to Bieber at top volume? I mean, you could, I guess?

But no, not really. Common sense does apply. You don’t need the WHO to tell you that.

But I guess this pseudo-science really does bug me. Because it gives decent, legit science a bad name. And it could convince people to change their behavior for all the wrong reasons.

It’s your life. Live it.

As to me, so I guess I’ll have to stop eating meat now? No, not a chance. The leftovers to this excellent dish is what I’ll be eating tonight. It’s 100% guaranteed.

dinner

Absurdity of the Week! Expert Studies!

The results are in! Extensive use of exclamation points can lead to hypertension and diabetes! Surveying approximately 1,400 adults across multiple demographics over a six year period, our study confirmed that the act of engaging the shift key and simultaneously overextending one’s pinky finger resulted in increased stress to the body and ultimately early heart disease!

My Guests’ brutal solution to this problem is to swap the location of the period and exclamation point on the keyboard so that every time you’d normally type a period, you instead get the exclamation point! They shall require this change to all the planet’s keyboards by the end of 2018! Or else. Please ensure you cooperate, for they truly desire to keep liquidation to an absolute minimum!

After all, you think coffee is bad for you? Just wait until my Guests carry out their vicious plans. Even a good old cup of coffee won’t save us from their wrath!

It’s enough to make you want a damn sweet beer! Or to try and escape your hated cubicle so you can go walk downtown and maybe get some tasty fish & chips to celebrate your Friday!

Just be sure you wear a hat so that bright sun doesn’t melt your brain inside your skull!

And don’t drink anything, not even one beer, with your lunch because then your boss(es) would get mad at you for being drunk on the job!

And when you get home be sure to tell your significant other that you need vegetables only for dinner so you can cleanse your palate of all that fried food!  Then the two of you can plan a weekend family gathering at the beach for an awesome time! Don’t forget the sunscreen, everybody loves a decent tan.

But if you see a Goth kid on the beach, be sure to give them a hug! Because apparently Goth kids are at risk for depression!  Who knew? I’m awfully glad this study told us that. Otherwise nobody would have known!

experts

keep going; we’re awaiting the next results with baited breath

it’s perfectly okay to stare at the wall and do nothing

Depending on what your cultural background is, this may not come as a shocker.  However, I grew up in a society where Seinfeld’s David Puddy was a comical guy because he tended to stare off into oblivion like a lunatic.  That was the joke, that’s it, that he just stared at nothing.

Puddy's_apartment

It also helped that Patrick Warburton did the joke particularly well.

Years ago, during one of the rather darkest moments of my life, I often found the urge to sit in a chair and accomplish nothing. This is real dark shit, where you don’t want to / can’t work, read, eat, sleep, nothing. You just want to sit there staring at a wall for twenty minutes. It’s all you’ve got.

At the time, I confided to a wise person that this behavior bothered me immensely. That there was something wrong with this ala David Puddy. To which the person said in response, “It’s perfectly okay to stare at the wall and do nothing.”

Boy was she right.  Even now when life isn’t as, relatively, dark I still allow myself to do this on a regular basis.  When made a regular part of your daily life, it helps to cleanse your brain.

And when you think about your caveman self, this makes perfect sense.  Once upon a time some hunter dude would just blankly stare at trees for eight hours while he awaited the forthcoming sabertooth tiger kill.

When I traveled to Sicily I heard them refer to this concept as, “The Blessed Nothing”.  I’ve never forgotten that phrase.

And yet in our high-impact-super-modern-culture we never bother to employ this cleansing.  We can’t even sit down for eight seconds without having to do: something, anything.

When I was on the road this last weekend and on long layover at the airport bar I happened to notice that of the twenty or so folks sitting at the bar, every single one was holding a smartphone.  I was the only one just sitting there slowly sipping my beer and staring at the wall.  It’s relaxing.  But taken at face value, somebody would be like, “Who’s the weirdo just sitting there without his phone?”

Even worse was the couple at the small table behind me who instead of, you know, talking to each other were just sitting there in silence tacking away at the smartphones.  I haven’t been in a decent relationship in a long, long time.  But I’m pretty sure that if all you’ve got to talk about as a couple is a smartphone, that there’s a problem at hand.

So friends, the next time you’re at the bar, or seated alone in the terminal awaiting your flight, or waiting for your friends on a park bench?  Just sit there and do nothing.  Stare into oblivion.  And see what delicious places your mind can take you.  Once you get used to doing this on a regular basis, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.  Your brain will thank you.