atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7522: Saturday! and it's COLD out there for a bitch

Coldest temps of the winter thus far, I do believe, last night. When I got home from work yesterday I blew down the driveway and salted it. Usually that operation has me sweating, but instead my fingers were going numb with cold by the time I was done. Mustache and beard were full of ice crystals from my breath. That was as the sun was setting.

13 right now, -7 tonight, 6 tomorrow. I'm going to run to the store for Pepsi a little later on, though I don't expect to get any since tomorrow is Big Sportsball Game, and none of the stores seem to be stocking for their sales any longer.

"I have an idea! Let's sell Pepsi at 50% off but not lay in a supply. That will bring the customers in!" Yeah, once.

The really irritating part of all this is that the stores have piles and piles of the regular variety on hand, but they sell out of diet; and I'm just paranoid enough to know that if I didn't drink "unleaded" but "regular", then the sugar variety would be what sold out.

Oh, well. I'll do what I can.

* * *

There are a few critical facts missing from the report, which is why I don't believe it. Which is to say, I do believe that heavy metals were found in baby food, the same way I expect they appear in just about everything humans eat: in trace quantities, well below levels traditionally accepted as toxic or even mildly hazardous.

But this report doesn't give us the critical information: how much of these heavy metals were found in the baby foods that were tested? What level does the government say is too much? What is the toxicity level for elemental heavy metals?

Nope. All they say are things like "significant levels of toxic heavy metals", or "dangerous levels", or other phrases. No specifics whatsoever.

...this is a scare piece.

That's all it is; it's meant to scare people. I've got a fiver that says this report from the house of representatives--not the FDA, not anyone doing actual testing of baby food, but a bunch of politicians--is applying an arbitrarily low standard for "heavy metal contamination" and insisting (without any scientific evidence whatsoever other than "heavy metals bad") anything higher than that level is "unsafe". That's why I said "well below levels traditionally accepted as toxic" above.

Remember the big foo-raw over George W. Bush telling the EPA not to implement new rules regulating arsenic in drinking water? How everone to the left of...well, him, was screaming about how he wanted poor children to die of arsenic poisoning? The former rule had been in existence for decades and the new rule would have forced expensive upgrades on a lot of municipal water infrastructure to remove the "excess" arsenic...for absolutely no health benefits whatsoever. People were not dropping dead of arsenic poisoning from their drinking water, had not been, were not going to. The old levels established by the FDA and EPA were perfectly safe and the regulation was merely regulation for the sake of regulating, meant primarily to employ EPA bureaucrats. Even before the screaming died down, people kept using tap water, and no one died from arsenic poisoning as a result of their use of tap water.

There are two simple facts of biology that pseudo-scientific idiocy like this ignores.

First, we live in a toxic world. The very ground we walk on is radioactive. The food we eat contains all kinds of trace metals and radionuclides, stuff that is deadly poison to us if we get too much of it at once. That's just the natural stuff; what about our manufactured products? The soap you washed your hands with (unless you use some weird hippie soap, in which case, GTFO) is a mild alkalai that actually burns dead skin off when you use it. The gasoline you put in your car--you routinely inhale a witches' brew of toxic aromatic organic compounds when you catch a whiff of the stuff. The same goes for diesel. By the way, the window cleaner you use contains ammonia, which is bad for you in a variety of ways, and even the bleach in your disinfecting wipes is highly poisonous. I could go on, but I think I've made this point.

Second, the dose makes the poison. We don't keel over dead, or get sick, from the stuff I mentioned above because we're not getting enough of it to have any effect on us. We're built to drink water with heavy metals in it; as long as the concentration is not too high, we're fine. There's some evidence which suggests we'd die more quickly in an environment with no radiation in it, because the low level we're exposed to helps our immune system deal with invaders. Soap, on balance, does a lot more good than harm to our bodies, helping to keep our skin free of bacteria and fungi.

That's why I disregard any article as mere scaremongering that does not discuss specifics. If you're unable--or, more likely, unwilling--to tell me what level is dangerous, how much is found in the sample, and when these safety thresholds were determined (and if it was recently, what they were before, and why they were changed) then I know you are merely trying to frighten me.

The bald assertion that "the government has determined the levels are dangerous" is insufficient to convince me.

* * *

Couple of things stand out, here.

First off, George Martin, "the revolting little goblin", is calling his fans nasty names...because they want to read a book he's writing. You see, this is what "too much success" looks like. "The revolting little goblin" has no gratitude for the people who made him wealthy beyond dreams of avarice by buying his books and watching his TV shows. Nope; their function is to wait patiently for whatever tidbits he sees fit to dole out to them, to pay handsomely for the privilege when he does, and not to complain when he does not deign to grace them with his art.

I write better than he does, but because I am not a leftist, I will never have to worry about reaching the stage he has. That's just as well, actually.

You know, Vox Day talks about "taking the ticket". Martin is definitely someone who took the ticket. When you take the ticket you are catapulted to the heights of worldly luxury, fame, and fortune, granted entry into the elites, given the red carpet treatment wherever you go, and you never have to worry about money ever again. long as you don't cross the people who sold you that ticket.

I don't think there's any kind of grand conspiracy where some kind of secret council of bad guys lines people up either to win with their help or sink into ignominy, nothing like that...but I do think that there are gatekeepers to that kind of success, people who not only have the power to promote you (if you do what they want) but to bar you (if you don't).

And I think that when you hit those heights where you're really rich and important, the rules stop mattering to you, because you know people who willingly help you get out of whatever jam you get into, because after all you're So-and-so, noted and respected author and rich man who votes the right way and gives money to the right candidates and....

There are no brakes on your behavior at that point. You have to screw up magnificently even to get arrested for anything, because you're very rich and important, so when you really do something bad, suddenly you're in trouble and you can't get out of it the way you did before. (Example: Roman Polansky.)

Or else you get into drugs, and end up overdosing. (Example: a myriad of "recording stars".)

There doesn't have to be some kind of grand conspiracy; this is all just human nature. But there are barriers to entry; and if you refuse to conform to them, you don't get in.

All right, that's enough about that. The second bit I wanted to comment about at that link regards D&D.
Critical Role is a collection of voice actors who play D&D on YouTube according to the current rules set. The rules that say it's racist if Orcs are evil. I shit you not. That is a thing. took some time to moan about itL
However, one of the major shifts to occur in the game between the debut of Dragonlance and today is the embrace of non-traditional character races. That's reflected in the cast of Critical Role, whose characters include a tiefling, a half-orc, an aasimar, a halfling who until recently was a goblin, and a firbolg. All of those races have roots in older versions of the game, but have become increasingly more common and popular for players to use in recent years. While humans are still a popular Dungeons & Dragons choice, you'll see just as many bullywugs, tortle, and tabaxi when sitting down at a D&D table.
Anyone who started playing D&D in the Eighties has the not unreasonable question: what the fuck are these things? Apparently, these are just a few of the many, many races you can play in the modern, Portland friendly, multicultural D&D of the 21st century.

Let's face it, past a certain point you have stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons and are reenacting RainFurrest.
I don't want to know what "RainFurrest" is, but given the title, I (most unhappily) can guess.

D&D originally came about as an add-on for a wargame, and the rules were heavily influenced by JRR Tolkein, to the point of Lord of the Rings virtually being canon for the thing. Orcs were always evil. They're evil because they are a creation of Sauron; they're elves who were corrupted into evil beings. The idea that it's racist for a fictional race to be evil--, don't want to raise my BP, so I'll stop there. The problem is, nothing in that bit of text I quoted above makes me want to relax. Fourth edition is where D&D went completely off the rails. Not only is it a free-for-all in the player character sense, but they started including card-based rules and a bunch of other horseshit which belonged in Wizards of the Coast's main product, Magic: The Gathering.

Anyway, it's not really my problem. I don't game any longer; I play WoW for my "swords and sorcery" fix even though RP is thin on the ground anywhere in MMORPGs. I consider D&D 3.5E (the "third and a half" edition) to be the definitive version of modern D&D and don't want to play anything newer. The D20 game engine is simple and robust enough.

By the way, you could play half-orcs in all the prior versions of D&D, and in the Spelljammer expansion for AD&D there were a bunch of neat player character races added. I took part in a Spelljammer campaign and played an ogre fighter. It was great.

* * *

Well, even though it's cold outside, it's not bitter cold (yet) and I have some errands to run, so I think I'll go do that. After all, I prefer not to get my WoW on until I finish them. Whee!

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