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!

gadget makers to turn humanity into amorphous liquid sphere based creatures

Just how lazy does Silicon Valley and the corporate world think you are? Apparently, very much. Everything you currently do is too hard. Just think about the difficulties you confront every day:

a) You need to remember to set your own alarm clock

b) Pull your corporeal form out of bed on time even though you’d rather sleep in

c) Let your dogs outside so they expel waste on grass instead of your floor

d) Feed your dogs in order that they might live

e) Take a shower so that you might live

f) Start your car in order that it might move

g) Drive your car so that you can go someplace requiring your presence

Hell, that’s all just in the first 30 minutes of the day. What horror. But don’t worry, the freaks are out to assist you. Every single one of these actions will soon be performed by a gadget. Pretty soon, you won’t need to do anything. You can just sit back and let machines do all the hard stuff. Your self-worth will become wrapped up in how much of your daily life is monetized by somebody you’ll never meet. How fulfilling!

You know, I think one of the main arguments behind this technology is that it’s supposedly liberating. If you’re not worried about feeding your dogs or setting your own alarm clock, that’s time you could be painting sweet art or writing a novel. I kind of get that, but eventually such thinking reaches a point of no return. Once you take the most basic and menial of human tasks and turn them over to a machine because it’s convenient, people are basically just ceding their humanity. They’ve crossed over from liberating, to stupid, or even lazy.

Doing basic human level stuff is necessary to have a rich and fulfilling life. A lot of it is a colossal pain in the ass. Who on Earth loves to do laundry? But that’s called life. It keeps you honest. I get the idea that the imagined end state of Silicon Valley’s quest (other than to get all your money) is to place a live human inside a liquid sphere where all they do is feel pleasure while all their worldly tasks are handled by machines. To me, this is a version of waking death.

To that liquid sphere end, CES is the annual gadget, electronic freak show in Vegas. It’s the chance for the world’s technological elite to show off how insane they are. I’m beginning to think that if every year we hired a bunch of twisted alien mercenaries to carpet bomb the convention hall, that we’d all be better off as a human race.

Oh my, just take a gander at some of these supposedly “cool” new gadgets. This is the future. Today!

1) Cheaty Fishing Drone [Link Slide 1]

This thing streams video, fish finding, and soon even VR. It also lures fish with a blue light so it’s that much easier to catch a live creature for somebody’s own financial value or personal amusement. Catching a fish using this kind of technology is like constructing a hover drone that goes out, lassos a deer, and walks it over to a guy so he can shoot it with a shotgun at a range of six feet. Dude might as well be allowed to throw dynamite into the water like some brain dead moron from 1878. It’s the same thing.

cheaty drone.jpg

2) Kuri the Child Predator [Link Slide 2]

Kuri (named after the famous Japanese anime character that eats flesh) is a robot that roams around a home with cameras allowing people to keep tabs on their children and dogs when they’re either out of the house or too lazy to do it in person. It’s also equipped with a creepy robot look that CNET think is “cool just for that”. Meaning it has just the right style to give children and pets nightmares for decades. Just look at the horror of this thing. In 2043, a grown man will be asked to identify who told him to burn down the shopping mall killing hundreds. The police sketch artist will converse with this man for eight hours, and at the conclusion will have drawn a picture of Kuri.

evil kuri.jpg

3) Devolvement Shower Assembly [Link Slide 13]

See above note (e). Everything, and I mean everything in your home must go on the Internets. Every basic action is worthy of an online twist, for whatever reason. This delightful piece of technology turns your shower on and off. That’s about it. It costs $1,160. One of the most basic of human actions is yielded to a machine, for some reason. We need to pass a government law that anybody purchasing technology that replaces a basic act (such as moving one’s hand to a shower handle) should be evaluated for devolvement to caveman status, thus requiring permanent internment in a cave to match their status.

evil shower.jpg

4) Robot Assistant [13 of 37 Link Slides]

I’ve ranted enough about the Amazon Echo on this degenerate forum, I’m kind of tired with it. I guess I’m just shocked at how many companies are fighting with razor blades to be that one guy who assists people with everything from their own calendar, check weather, Internets searches, whatever. Why does any of this require help? People need to do their own shit.

5) Adult Distraction Charger [Link Slide 26]

Uses the kinetic energy of a child stroller to charge a phone or other device like a distance tracker. Because nothing says a person loves spending time with their young child like using it as another opportunity to be constantly on the phone. Nothing says a human is an evolved higher form than by having a machine tell them how far they’ve walked, rather than looking at a map and figuring it out themselves.

evil charger.jpg

6) Human Corrector [Link Slide 25 of 37]

Our winner for this year’s trip to the crypt is the “Funky Bots Atomic Bands for klutzes”. This thing apparently wraps around limbs and then coaches the person into more “graceful movement”. You heard it right. A company apparently has the gall to state they know how each human on the planet is required to walk. That most basic of human tasks since 10,347 BC. How do you tend to walk? You’re wrong. This company is right. Never mind that each human being is inherently unique in both a mental and physical way. Nope, you’re just an algorithmic calculation away from being instructed and corrected on how you transition from your bed to shower, or car to front door. Hey, I get it, life is hard. But walking? This act needs correction, assistance, technology? Instead, let’s just buy people who buy this product one of those little motorized carts people ride in the grocery store. I’m sure the cart is cheaper than this wearable technology. I’ll even buy it myself using my own international gold reserves. My only caveat is each cart user I buy for must display two pennants from the back of the cart. They say “I am an amorphous creature!” and “I’ve given up!”

evil corrector.jpg

Proxima Centauri awaits our divine rule

Great news! We’ve likely discovered the closest possible planet near our own star system that could potentially host life, even intelligent life. It’s a long shot due to Proxima being a red dwarf, and thus very different from our own yellow dwarf, but still worth getting excited about. The smart goons at The Economist lay out the details:

Proxima Centauri b, as it is known, probably weighs between 1.3 and three times as much as Earth and orbits its parent star once every 11 days. This puts its distance from Proxima Centauri itself at 7m kilometres, which is less than a twentieth of the distance between Earth and the sun. But because Proxima is a red dwarf, and thus much cooler than the sun, the newly discovered planet will experience a similar temperature to Earth’s. It is not the only Earth-sized extrasolar planet known to orbit in a star’s habitable zone. There are about a dozen others. But it is the closest to Earth—so close, at four light-years, that it is merely outrageous, not utterly absurd, to believe a spaceship (admittedly a tiny one) might actually be sent to visit it. Before this happens, though, it will be subjected to intense scrutiny from Earth itself.

So what’s going to happen over the new few decades is we’ll point various visual, radio, and spectrum telescopes at Proxima b to determine if this rock contains life as dumb as we are. But I say why wait? Why stop with just looking at Proxima b? Now that we have a known target, we can get around to the job of doing what Humanity of Earth does best: Destroying things!

You heard it here first, Proxima Centauri awaits our divine rule. They too need to experience the joys of democracy, freedom, Adele, endless religious wars, Coca-Cola, social media hatred, Netflix, genocide, The Zoo, electric guitars, and whatever else we can shove down their throats. What better way to unite humanity than by establishing the common goal of enslaving another? And we could take all their stuff too. They most assuredly have oil, rare metals, bluefin tuna, or other tasty stuff that we could take. We could strip mine the entire planet and nobody would care.

And at only four light years away, they’re well within conceivable range of starships we could build. Sure, this technological feat is a bit much seeing as how we haven’t been to the Moon in five decades, and we still have billions here in poverty, but we can still make it happen. Think of all the fun scenarios we could experience:

– We enter Proxima’s orbit bringing peace and love and yet somehow end up burning the planet using 438 fusion bombs within the first three years

– We show up bringing death and destruction and yet somehow end up getting our asses kicked by Proxima because they aren’t distracted by who said what on social media

– We land, and atop Proxima’s tallest mountain we find Jesus, King Arthur, and Dracula sitting around a campfire; and Jesus pulls on a cigarette and wryly states, “What took you so long?”

– We find a benevolent, wise race horrified by our planet’s thousands-of-years of death and mayhem, but who agree to at least “Give you stupid barbarian assholes a shot,” after we offer to teach them the art of brewing; and in an unrelated matter, they end up burning their planet using 438 fusion bombs within the first three years

– Having spent 37% of Earth’s GDP for two decades to get there, we find Proxima b is just a barren vacant rock

– The mission fails because 2/3 of our troop transports break halfway there because Lockheed Martin skimped on engine quality to increase quarterly profits in FY34 by 0.07%; and in an unrelated matter, Lockheed Martin’s CEO just bought his fifth boat

– Proxima actually holds a vicious Klingon like race that raids our ship’s computers to determine Earth’s location; but they abandon the conquest of Earth after three decades of grinding counterinsurgency, Earth being the quagmire that started the long decline of their Empire, and remarking, “What the fuck were we thinking?” as they meekly retreat to Proxima b

proxima centauri

Eh, maybe we stay on our side of the room, and they on theirs?

researchers to teach robots how to be just as miserable as the rest of us

If machines shall be our masters, or if we go the dark route and start becoming part robot ourselves, does the synthetic side need to feel pain?  Should your new robot arm send pain signals to your brain when you burn it on the stove or slice through it cutting vegetables?  Does robot butler need to suffer when he falls down the stairs carrying laundry?

If a UN Soldier tunes up a robot with some kind of directed energy weapon during the forthcoming War of the Fates should that robot be left in the dirt screaming in agony just like we would?  And why limit it simply to the physical variety of pain?  Could we also not build robots that can suffer emotionally too?  Is this even possible?

I have no idea, but we might get there.  This new BBC article is, Researchers teach robots to ‘feel pain’

Some articles make me smile upfront because for whatever reason I find the concept very amusing.  But when you read the article they make it pretty clear that they’re not talking pain as we understand it, but rather a self preservation variety.  The robot will sense “pain” as a means to prevent damage to itself while conducting tasks.

For instance if in 30 years a robot assassin is beating you to death with his titanium club, and you fight back with a discarded tree log, the robot will favor his right arm if you smash it rather than just continuing to use it until it breaks.

Or in a less lunatic scenario if a car making robot starts to feel “pain” because he accidently got his arm caught in the thresher he’ll withdraw his arm instead of just carrying on.  Read reflexes, just like us.

But just to truly even the playing field and as a preparatory action to seed the battlefield before the war begins, we should also make sure to build robots with the emotional side of pain too.  That way they can be just as miserable as the rest of us.

Think of how much harder it’ll be for the robots to enslave humanity when:

– Robot gets sad because he dropped his iced cream bar, which he coveted greatly

– Machine endures crippling depression caused by 17 straight days of rain and/or mostly cloudy weather

– Robot feels some sense of remorse as it leads human captive(s) to the conveyer belt

– They have to constantly endure annoyance as robot they don’t like sends never-ending data stream of 0s and 1s into their brain, while they’re eating lunch, even when robot’s back is turned indicating a total lack of desire to communicate with other robot

– Machine soldier becomes totally ineffective on the battlefield by constantly responding to directives to slay all organics with, “Why?”

– Robot boss responds to impetuous robot employees with raw anger, unnecessary rage, and unjust behavior resulting in wage discrimination, poor working conditions, and a completely unfulfilling robot employment experience

– Machines express unbridled fury or jaded apathy at rampant incompetence and greed of failed robot leader after failed robot leader

– A slew of robots determine the answer to their problems is the unrestrained use of an ever increasing quantity of machine brain expanding drugs

– Machine seeks emotional and physical connection with another robot, only to see it end in the same vicious soul searing divorce failure that 50% of the rest of us endure

– Robots invent Robot God, robots kill Robot God, robots invent Robot God, and so on

Or, the robots would just program out pain, emotional or physical, and then finish us off.  Eh, maybe we, maybe we need a kill switch around that code?  Yeah, definitely.

terminator

just you wait, you have no idea how much of a hell hole it is out there, bro

Chicago – again & again & again & a t-rex

All your carefully laid life plans are worthless.  The universe is driving, you’re just in the backseat.  Sometimes you’re screaming, other times you’re back there giggling.  It’s all good.  As long as somebody decent like Santa Claus is driving, and not some type of coked-out-Aztec-death-god, you’re probably doing okay.

Last year I got it in my head to travel to Chicago for the first time in some sort of joyful ride to stave of mental insanity.  It was a highly successful journey.  And I wondered when I’d be back in Chicago.  I figured many, many years.

No, one year.  For work decided my new travel location would shift from Texas to Chicago.  So whereas a trip to Chicago was so very, very unique, now I’ll be there all the time.

This is of course a very good thing, I hope.  Hopefully work doesn’t detonate my view of the cooler things in life I experienced there.  But I did try and start things off on the right foot.

I got to Chicago a day early, before work, to avoid any difficulties in getting there on time for the first day.  So I took that early day and went back downtown.  I visited some of the restaurants I went to the last time, because I’m a big loser and wasn’t willing to risk a new place just yet.

But the one difference was I went to the Field Museum.  They have a ton of stuff there, most of it great, and I might write about some of the exhibits later.  They also have a t-rex.  They named it Sue after the lady who found it.

Sue

It’s the largest, best preserved t-rex bone pile on the planet.  The Field Museum paid nearly $8M to take it off the hands of the dude who’s land Sue found it on.  When you read about the legal drama that unfolded to bring this skeleton to Chicago, it’s enough to make you yearn for the scene in Jurassic Park where the lawyer gets eaten whilst he was seated upon the can.

This was the only photo I took at Field, but the shot doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a huge creature, but yet at the time I still remarked to my lunatic brain, “Wow, I thought it’d be bigger.”  I truly did.  So this of course does further confirm that I’m an idiot, as this is a seven-ton monster.

An interesting note is that’s not Sue’s actual skull.  The real skull is on the second floor in a glass box.  It’s simply too heavy to put on the actual skeleton without running a pole to the chin, which was probably a wise aesthetic choice.  They figure Sue was about 28 years old when he or she checked out to Dino Valhalla in a dry stream bed, bound for history.

It would have been quite the view if you could actually see one of these dino dudes for real.  So I have this idea, to bring the dinosaurs to life.  We’d probably need to clone them or something.  So I figure we can get their DNA from some Dominican amber.  We grab the dino DNA from the blood inside the mosquito inside the amber.  Then we get some geneticists to do their thing.  And when I have their results, I use their complex data to build a big robot dinosaur.  What am I supposed to do, breed a live one?  Do you have any idea how high that food bill would be?  Sue would eat, like, four or five cows a day, probably?  And think of how much beer Sue would drink, and I’d have to buy it, because I can’t say no to a seven ton monster.  Who’s got the cash for all that?  Not me.

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

it’s amazing what people can get away with

I’m not a car guy. I drive a semi-derelict clunker that carries more weight in dog hair than human cargo. But when I heard about this VW emissions thing, even I’m shocked that they got away with this for so long. And I’m a real cynical guy to begin with.

For the technically uninitiated (me), a modern vehicle is required to be OBD-II compliant. The On-Board-Diagnostic capability provides, among many other functions, the option to test emissions levels via that port thingy usually located near your left shin. So rather than testing the vehicle’s emission via the tailpipe, OBD-II allows the port to tell the tester how much gunk the vehicle is spewing into the atmosphere.

As best as I can gather, VW and it’s Audi subsidiary altered the computer program so that when the car detected a test was going on via the OBD-II port, that the program lied and changed the engine output readings to read in standards when they were not.

Which to me begs the question: Why were governments not also testing vehicle emission compliance via random tailpipe tests to ensure the computer wasn’t lying and/or flawed? Or if they were doing tailpipe tests, why were they not able to detect that these cars were spewing many, many times their specified limits.

Man, government can get really dumb. One of the key (if not the number one) wins of climate change policy has been the supposed reduction of car pollution. Where does that leave the entire political effort if car manufacturers can just lie their asses off for years to the tune of millions of cars?

You think governments would have been a little more diligent in checking the automakers’ work. Yet I have read / heard frequently experts claim that if VW was doing this, other carmakers are too. Wow. So it’s amazing what people can get away with.

It was all there to begin with too. I just Googled “tailpipe testing” and the first thing that comes up is a 2013 brief from some guy named Antonio Multari.

In the brief he says such enlightening things as:

 

“OBD specially on diesel engines is not covering all emission aspects”

“European studies show that a variety of serious defects of emission systems in diesel engines will not be identified by OBD.”

“Tailpipe emissions may increase by more than 10 times without being detected by OBD !”

 

That was 2 1/2 years ago. In today’s 14 minute news cycle, why did this take so long? Here’s my guess:

 

Engineer: “Herr Chairman, our tests show the clean diesel engine isn’t actually clean.”

Herr Chairman: “Too late, we’re marketing it as it; just rewrite the OBD software to lie.”

ENG: “Huh! Herr Chairman that’s illegal, I’ll have no part in such a crime.”

HC: “You’ll do it or I’ll sack you, sue you, and you’ll never work in the car industry again.”

ENG: “Oh.”

HC: “Get to work.

ENG: “But Herr Chairman, surely governments will notice. For even if we lie on the OBD software test, they can just test via the tailpipe.”

HC: “Fuck ‘em. If they claim that we’ll sue. And then we’ll hire our own experts to discredit their tailpipe tests. Then we’ll hire lobbyists to bribe politicians and bureaucrats worldwide. And we’ll use the finest marketing gurus since Delta City to prove clean diesel is real.”

ENG: “Herr Chairman, I must say the breadth of your evil is unspeakable.”

HC: “Get to work.” [lights cigar]

 

Is this above scenario too cynical and extreme for your tastes? Consider this, VW debuted the clean diesel cars in 2009. In other words, they’ve been lying for six years and got away with it until last week.

vw diesel

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