The latest Vitamin C scam

True facts about Vitamin C:

  • It is an effective antioxidant, and can donate electrons to free radicals to neutralize them.
  • Topical Vitamin C is helpful in providing photoprotection.
  • It’s also a depigmenting agent — it can decrease melanin formation in the skin.

  • Vitamin C can neutralize the chlorine in chlorinated water.

  • It’s hydrophilic and readily soluble. It can also be absorbed through the skin.

  • Vitamin C inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines, so you will sometimes see it in creams and patches to treat conditions like acne.

  • It is unstable and degrades rapidly on exposure to light.

  • Vitamin C has some downsides in topical application: it can discolor the skin (the effective molecule (LAA)is transparent, but it breaks down rapidly to DHAA, which is ineffective and yellowish, and it can cause skin dryness.

  • The dose makes the poison: taking over 100 times the recommended daily dose causes cellular apoptosis and is toxic. It’s really, really hard to take that much Vitamin C.

That mostly sounds great, doesn’t it? It is an essential vitamin, it’s good for you, and it has a really good safety profile. It’s easy to get the required dosage from a healthy balanced diet, so, honestly, taking megadoses does nothing, no harm and no advantage, and only, as they say, helps you make more expensive pee.

But you know what’s totally pointless? This new product of selling people Vitamin shower filters. You attach it to your shower head, and then get an extremely dilute solution of Vitamin C topically applied, most of which then runs off into your sewer. If the dose makes the poison, it’s also the case that you need a minimally effective dose to get the benefit, and this mainly looks like a new way to get money to bleed out of your wallet. Have an orange, eat some strawberries or broccoli, all far more effective at getting the vitamins you need.

If you want to remove chlorine, these filters simply can’t do the job — you’d have to reduce the flow rate to a trickle, optimistically. They’re a scam. They take a little bit of truth and amplify it non-quantitatively and with no empirical analysis, and try to sell it to you with phony promises. Don’t fall for it. If you have a condition that would benefit from topical Vitamin C, see a dermatologist.

I think we can definitively argue that Elon Musk has a cult

Popular Mechanics has published a defense of Elon Musk, and it’s disturbingly creepy. They’ve got multiple contributors, and the first compares him to Mark Twain.

Not everybody liked Twain. They still don’t. He could be scandalous and self-indulgent. He smoked too much. Judgmental. And Twain, a one-time river­boat pilot, made nothing substantial, produced no commodities or goods, except his tales and observations. He took you somewhere. Mark Twain didn’t think for you, you barrel-hoop baron you. But he was out there. Thinking. He spoke past his newspaper editor, directly to the people, to his readers, whether they agreed with him or not. And while he certainly produced outsize, often painful, observations about what we had become as a people, he also offered glaring, satiric propositions concerning what we might want to try to be henceforth. And why. In person, he could be wily, cold, and unpleasant, but Twain stood out as a man who reliably saw the truth of human purpose beneath the weighty mess of human foibles. He had ambitions for humanity. At the very least, he believed that humanity ought to have ambitions for itself.

And now, Elon Musk walks the earth. The pleasure of his presence on this mantle is similar to Twain’s. You might live in Tacoma and make a living working in a consulting firm that helps affordable hotel chains rebrand themselves using urban graphic-design strategies and overlapping pricing platforms. But admit it, among your everyday pleasures is the possibility that you might pick up an item in the news feed on your smartphone concerning Elon Musk’s next great idea. Electric cars. The colonization of Mars. Tunnels beneath Los Angeles. Brains linked to computers.

I mainly pick up on news about Musk because he’s obnoxiously weird. Accusing divers of being pedophiles. Abusing his employees (look up Mary Beth Brown). An ugly divorce. Unable to profit despite receiving millions of dollars from his fellow capitalists. Smoking a joint on a YouTube video.

Electric cars are a great idea — it wasn’t his. He wants to colonize Mars to “save” humanity — it won’t. His tunnels are bizarre and impractical. He doesn’t know how to link brains and computers.

He’s no Mark Twain.

Another guy has a different comparison.

Bruce Wayne. Elon Musk. Tony Stark. Three men worth billions of dollars who care more about solving important problems than living comfortably, but only one of them is real.

SpaceX and Tesla cars are great. I don’t know that they make up for the fact that he’s an obnoxious asshole with a cult of personality.

What would Jesus say, Pat?

Pat Robertson has some opinions on the idea of butchering a journalist while he’s alive with a bone saw. They’re not what I would have thought a Christian would openly admit.

He argues that we should basically overlook a little thing like a torture-murder because Saudi Arabia are key allies, our main enemy in the Middle East is Iran, and there’s also that little $190 billion arms deal which means a lot of jobs and a lot of money coming into our coffers. You know, 2000 years ago the most powerful empire of the time also endorsed a torture-murder of someone in the interests of maintaining the balance of power in the Middle East and pacifying a troublesome population; I guess that would have been OK if Jesus had also been interfering with a profitable trade in spears and swords.

I like ol’ Pat. He keeps opening his mouth and contributing to the corruption of religious faith. He’s probably done far more for atheism than Richard Dawkins. Televangelists in general have been awesome forces for discrediting organized religion for years.

What does it take?

So…a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was brutally murdered by a Saudi pathologist in the Saudi embassy with the full knowledge of the Saudi consul, apparently at the request of the Saudi government, who didn’t like the reporter’s coverage of the repressive Saudi regime. Audio of his death was recorded.

It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments told Middle East Eye.

Khashoggi was dragged from the consul-general’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door, the Turkish source said.

Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, the source said.

“The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him,” the source told MEE.

The screaming stopped when Khashoggi – who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October – was injected with an as yet unknown substance.

We even know who did it.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of the 15-member squad who arrived in Ankara earlier that day on a private jet.

Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.

The killing took seven minutes, the source said.

As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.

“When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,” Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.

When he does this job? This is something he’s done before?

This is a horrific and unforgivable act. So what does the “leader of the free world” have to say about it?

I’m not giving cover at all, Trump said. I just want to find out what’s happening.

With that being said, Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East, he added, pointing to a US-Saudi arms deal that he valued at $110 billion, even though just $14.5 billion of that figure has actually begun to materialize.

Speaking in Washingon, Trump said he was hopeful the crisis would resolve itself, while Pompeo told reporters in Brussels the US takes the journalist’s suspected killing and dismemberment seriously, even as both men stressed the importance of the US-Saudi relationship.

I guess $110 billion will buy you the right to torture-murder someone. Is it just the one? Or do the Saudis get to slaughter any journalist they want while they hold the promise of a fucking “deal”?

Also, the deal doesn’t exist. It’s a loose collection of non-binding promises, nothing more.

A real leader would have cut these barbaric killers off at the knees, immediately announced a suspension of all these arms deals to a backward, vicious kingdom, and made it clear that that murder was intolerable. All Trump sees is dollar signs, even illusory dollar signs are enough to keep him in line.

It’s also not just Trump. These “deals” were made during the Obama years, and once again we see that a much-admired president had a thoroughly reprehensible foreign policy. Fuck these monsters. Why are we even selling arms to Saudi Arabia in the first place, even before they’d started openly torturing journalists?

I agree with this review of the Ark Park

This article on the Ark Park is exactly right, and hits on all the same impressions I had when I visited it.

  • It’s grossly overpriced.
  • “It’s just a large building in a shape you don’t typically see large buildings in.”
  • The “extremely optimistic queueing area” — you wend your way through a maze of fences intended to restrain a mob…and you’re one of the few people there.

  • “The first proper exhibit on the Ark is a room containing lots of wooden cages with model animals in them.” It’s another pointless waiting area. A lot of the cages don’t bother to have fake animals in them — they just play animal noises.

  • “But, unfortunately, with the exception of three dioramas, all of that is depicted using a bunch of pictures and text on boards stuck to the wall.” There are virtually no real exhibits inside.

  • “Once you’re done reading the signs on the wall of the pre-flood world section, you head on to the next attraction: a bunch of signs on walls.”

  • “The Ark has two screening areas that, during my visit, played two movies on loop.” I skipped the movies. From the description, I didn’t miss anything.

  • Did I mention the signs on the walls? “Room after room after room of signs. More signs than have ever been gathered in one place before.”

  • They have a new addition! “One of the newer additions to the Ark is an exhibit made to look like a graphic novel that tells the story of some college kids questioning their faith (spoiler alert: God turns out to be cool, actually).” Unfortunately, it’s just another variation on a theme. “Ken Ham described the exhibit as “like walking through the pages of a book.” An alternative description would be “like reading a bunch of signs stuck to a wall.””

Aside from the incompetent, boring collection of didactic exhibits, they note another feature of the content: it’s all written by regressive, homophobic Christian fundamentalists.

Anti-LGBTQ bigotry is a big attraction at the theme park, and is smattered generously throughout.

All people who volunteer or work at the park are required to sign a “statement of faith” which explicitly prohibits them from employment if they’re gay, bi, or a person who has “attempt[ed] to alter [their] gender by surgery or appearance.”

During my visit, I saw multiple ads for something the Ark is hosting called “Sacred: Embracing God’s Design for Sexuality” which appears to be some sort of transphobic gay conversion event.

It’s no wonder that attendance has been declining, but there’s an interesting tension here: they are catering to narrow audience that doesn’t want information or entertainment, they want nothing but affirmation that their rotten beliefs are valid, and the Ark Park is a massive, expensive false signal that they’re right. It hasn’t collapsed as fast as it should if it were judged on its merits as a museum and a park, but that’s not what it is or ever has been. It’s a costly signal for a dying, contemptible culture. It will continue to draw in revenue from the fading tatters of that group.