Tag Archives: technology

Trans-Fat Still in Wide Use in the USA

 

food

Artificial trans fats, better known to many American consumers as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, have contributed to a half million deaths a year, many of those in developing countries ill-equipped to address the health threats posed by a product cherished for its low price and long shelf life. It’s not just fast food giants that carry trans fats, it is also most grocery store chains. Even “Safeway” carries products that are virtual poisons to the body. Buyer beware. Read the fine print, made tiny for two reasons: they are legally obligated to “report” the ingredients, and they hope you won’t see it. Descriptions and names of ingredients are intentionally misleading, too. Plus serving size. Decrease the serving size and the amount of sugar you’re getting seems okay…if you only have a couple teaspoons and not a giant bowl. In Publix markets they have their own brand of ice cream, with both trans fat and high fructose corn syrup, Lots of chemicals on the label in tiny print. But it costs less, and is sooooo yummy! (Cheaper to make.) Which is also why Americans are the fattest, and have the highest health care costs. “More is better,” is our mantra. “Give us more! Make America Great again!” LOL> Yup…our President eats at McDonalds. Pets eat better than people at McDonalds. Pet food: “No trans fat, no grain fed, no HFCS, with added vitamins.” Now read “Fast Food Nation,” about McDonalds food, where it comes from, how the animals are abused and less healthy than grass fed (which costs more.) Money is God. (Or, rather, short term profits, as in Avatar: “The only thing the shareholders care about is their quarterly statement, not dying indigenous.”) Not only can money win elections, but promises about it can get re-elections. Trump 2020? If we don’t all blow up, first, you bet. We love bold and narcissistic, too.  (Never mind the EPA. As “Mr. Wonderful” says, “It’s all about the money. I love money. So show me the…MONEY…”) Humm. Guess the White House doesn’t believe the Bible, after all. Bible: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Bank records, Mueller and Trump Jr.? Junior shoots animals for trophies, accepted money for access to dear old dad. Hotels, casinos, Stormy Daniels payoff. There’s “more!” There is a current battle between Lidl and other markets on the price of eggs. They undercut each other to get business. Some sales are .17 cents for a dozen. But why would anyone want to eat those eggs? There’s also a bacteria outbreak in cheap eggs. They aren’t healthy to eat. The chickens never see the light of day. Christian Chickens, too. Chick-fil-a is closed on Sunday because that’s “the Lord’s Day.” Their chickens are farmed, mistreated. Yumm? The argument I’ve heard is that mankind is made in the image of God, and so we are superior and therefore we “have dominion” over the animals, which were sacrificed in the Bible. For a barbecue? Swine (pigs) in the Bible were once invaded by demons, and there are sermons against eating something with “a cloven hoof.”  But Christian pork barbecues are everywhere at church picnics. Having studied the intelligence and sensitivity (feeling) of hogs for this novel, I can report that we do indeed share much of the DNA of hogs, whose organs can be harvested for humans, or human organs grown in their bodies. The sad thing is that they make great pets, yet are considered “food,” and so it’s somehow okay for Christians (and others) to look the other way, instead of reading all the fine print. Who reads anymore anyway, right? Ask Kanye! He’s rich. Education must be unimportant! Teachers? Blaaa. Boring. Go on AGT or The Voice, and the local newspapers will track your every word! “Have you got a minute? Give us more!” The Evangelicals don’t mention Trump liking Kanye. You can call that “Confirmation bias.” Looking only for evidence that supports your claims. Do that, and you might end up believing the Earth is flat. Coffee? We need a third party, a missing Third Man (or Woman.) Because it’s time to wake up.

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Psychopene: Future Pharmaceutical

Science Fiction

Kid called the drug Psychopene. What began as a pharmaceutical for clinical depression got cooked in his Tempe condo into something more third eye interesting than any previous indy variant. Thing about it, though, it put you to sleep. Only in your dreams could you fly new skies of chance, like trance. No side effects like LSD, either. Kid figured the molecule might be just the thing for nerds whose other escape was first person shooter immersion or Star Lord movies. Except he needed help, and vetoed telling his father for fear of being cut off.

Kid Holler was Hank Hollowell, a geek pothead biomedical major whose dad mined rare earths like Xenotime in Brazil. We’d once shared a dorm room at ASU until we graduated to beta test and market his creation. Me? I’d been a journalism major with a minor in business. Unemployed too, until my very first dream dive, an hour into which I envisioned a flotilla of revelers depart a dying city that resembled Phoenix, selfie drones angling to take vid snips to be stitched and stored should the realistically devastated alternate world I’d visualized be magically repopulated. Vivid? Imagine Coachella and Burning Man at the end of time, and you might get a gist of it. It was beyond wild, this deep REM stuff, no doubt tricked from my subconscious by the drug. Somehow I knew citizens had refused cybernetic immortality to join these caravans of “Freebirds” which navigated the oceans, farmlands and deserts in seeking out final festivals of human experience. Some pretty heady philosophical backstory might explain this awareness. But I didn’t know what the frag it ultimately meant, because I couldn’t vis it all.

Ecstatic as the drug initially made him, Kid soon became flummoxed by my reaction, since I wasn’t gaga about his plans for patenting or going on Narc Tank. Sure, our highs were better than VR and more visceral than any rave mood drug could induce. The visions felt like stepping into movie star roles, too. Still, as a portal, Kid’s dreamtime white powder scared me: unique, as a ticket to a new playground of art and orgy, yet ominous in a way I couldn’t explain. If Holler shouted about gleefully endless orgiastic scenarios, mine were ever more inexplicable, evolving into something recurrent, like dictation. Like a gaming script programmed by a disembodied intelligent machine. “What the hell,” Kid said when I tried to describe them. For him it was like the exploitation gaming scripts he’d dreamed of producing—a drug runner mini series featuring lots of guns, girls, and virtual gambling. Occasionally he got to play the lead role, full of mindless banter, petty jealousies, and threats of violence on steroids. A theme he enjoyed. But the rush left me exhausted and confused upon waking. So sketching ideas for ‘package and sell’ seemed premature.

“I think you should let some girls try it, before proceeding,“ I told him. “Call it something more appropriate, too.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. How about REM ROD. A hot rod for some, divining rod for others.” I pantomimed potential promo covers. “The life you want and can’t have. An adventure inside your own head.” I paused. “Or just describe it as a date drug with benefits. One girl takes it as another watches. She wakes and reports. Then they switch roles. We don’t even need to be there. Just keep a camera running, and get them to report what happens, too.”

“You crazy,” Holler said. But he liked my idea, as he always had. Then he repeated the name, as though he’d just seen the future himself.

RemRod.

We did it. Kid told girls they’d get to be the date rapists. I filed their releases as notary in my safety deposit box. Then, after it was over, our beta test girls raved. Dreamland, apparently, was whatever you brought to the party. Or didn’t. Upshot is, Kid got an investor and Big Pharma sponsor after showing them our vid and providing samples. Soon after that he got new threads, hotter wheels, and a swankier crib. In short order.

Still, I declined another go, myself. Channeling courage from some inner ether, perhaps.

“Why you acting like this?” Holler asked over coffee, six weeks in. “Tactar Pharmaceuticals is taking over testing. Clinical trials with patent pending on a class seven recreational. You’ll get a nice bonus, buddy. Guaranteed.”

Kid had fronted me ten grand, and signed me to five percent of future company profits in exchange for occasional business and marketing deeds.

“It’s not that,” I said. “It’s just, we don’t really know what’s going on here. You said it was partly an accident, right? Tactar said it wasn’t a hallucinogen. They aren’t sure what it is. Hell, I don’t think it has anything to do with opening up some part of the brain we don’t use, either. That’s bogus urban legend. But obviously in certain cases, like mine, it involves seeing stuff beyond the pale. Not with superpowers, but with extra sensory perception, maybe. Like remote viewing.”

He just blinked at me, forehead crinkling.

I continued. “Listen, they still don’t know how consciousness works, or why we dream. What if it’s to sort out our reality from other timelines, from some other stream of…”

“Parallel universes?”

(Continued in Judge Jury. Ebook at iTunes, BN.com, Amazon.)

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Arizona

This is the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham in Arizona. Did a few articles on it, and also on Kitt Peak National Observatory. Funny story about the Kitt Peak experience. Got a room for the night on their viewing program, when most visitors are banned from the mountain due to light pollution from cars. It was bitter cold and windy that night. They knew I was there for an article, and gave me a key in addition to my room key…the wrong key. When I met an astronomer I showed him the key, and he told me it was a universal key: opens all buildings. So I figured I had access to all astronomers on the mountain, and told the one who informed me about the key that I’d come visit him later, after dinner in the cafeteria used by astronomers and overnight guests. When in the cafe, I met two other grad assistants who told me they were working at the main 4 meter telescope, the largest on the mountain. I told them I hoped to interview them as well, and see them later. So after dinner I went to the first observatory and let myself in with the key. The astronomer and his student help showed me what they were working on, and I took notes to questions. After that I went to the 4 meter scope, and used the key to get in there, too. No one was inside, so I went to the elevator, thinking they were upstairs in the control room. The elevator door opened, and two security men were there. They asked me who I was, why I was there, and how I’d gotten in! I showed them the key, which they seized. Then we went up in the elevator to the control room, where the grad assistants confirmed they had talked to me. They called the head of security, who cussed me out on the phone, saying I was supposed to stay with the night viewing (tourist) group. He said he would now escort me off the mountain. I told him I had paid to stay there overnight, was a journalist, and if he wanted to do that there would be no article. So I was escorted to the tourist group viewing, instead. They were using a amateur telescope and talking basic astronomy, which I already knew. So I went to my room and left in the morning. Later, the LBT director drove me personally from the University of Arizona to Mt. Graham for a tour and interview. We were alone in the car for three hours, and when I mentioned the Kitt Peak incident, he chuckled and said, “I heard about that.” He used to be the director of Kitt Peak. He also was on the Hubble Space telescope development panel. Small world, big universe.