Get Your Cyanide Kernels

As noted by this Tumblr post, self-labelled Super Foods retailer Sun Foods is selling apricot cyanide kernels (apparently they can also be found at Whole Foods) claiming wonderful health benefits; however, the warning listed on both the website and the bag itself is cause for concern:

WARNING: Sweet apricot kernels contain amygdalin (Vitamin B17) which can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning when eaten in excess. DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 8 SEEDS PER DAY. See a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, or low blood pressure. Do not eat if you are pregnant or nursing. Not intended for children.

Yes, folks, the warning does indeed say “symptoms of cyanide poisoning”. I recommend reading the hilarious Tumblr post breaking down why recommending and selling apricot kernels is so absurd. Just a taste:

Amygdalin is not, in fact, particularly rare; as the wiki page states, it’s found in “many plants” “particularly the Prunus genus, Poaceae (grasses), Fabaceae (legumes), and in other food plants, including linseed and manioc.” The only people who refer to amygdalin as a vitamin are those trying to make money from it. It is absolutely NOT a vitamin in any way, shape, or form. The definition of the word “vitamin” is “a compound which is required by the body in small amounts, which it cannot make on its own and thus must be obtained from the diet.” Your body does not *require* amygdalin in the least. In fact, if you consume too much of it, you will LITERALLY DIE OF CYANIDE POISONING. It is NOT an “important nutrient.” It has not “disappeared from Western diets” because it was never a part of any culture’s diet. Any group of people who ate too much of it probably died.

I verified that the Wikipedia quotes by the poster were accurate and performed an independent search of Google Scholar for amygdalin to validate the Wikipedia content. Multiple papers come up within the first page of search results showing that amygdalin (vitamin B17) does, in fact, break down to cyanide in the human digestive system.

The lesson here: if it causes symptoms of cyanide poisoning, it probably is cyanide poisoning and you should stop eating whatever it is you’re eating. Also, don’t forget to read warning labels.

Sea of Thieves

At E3 2016, the game studio Rare announced a new game they are working on, Sea of Thieves:

Simply put, Sea of Thieves is a game about being a pirate, and everything that comes with that – and it’s a shared-world game where you’ll encounter other crews of players.

Let’s be honest: I don’t know too many people who haven’t wanted to experience the life of a pirate at least some point in their life. This is awesome.

I recommend watching the hilarious E3 gameplay video shared by the team. To say the least, it looks like a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to the release. Unfortunately, there isn’t a release date yet, but I’ll be getting it right away when it comes out.

Also, that intro video and music sets the tone perfectly. I don’t know if the music was custom recorded or not, but I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Update: I found out more information about the trailer music.

RCMP in BC Watching for Distracted Driving

As reported by the CBC, in BC the RCMP are starting to watch more closely for distracted drivers, from a long ways away:

The long arm of the law now has a super-long lens to catch distracted drivers — from as far as 1.2 kilometres away.

RCMP in B.C. are rolling out the powerful new lenses over the May long weekend, aimed at catching drivers texting or otherwise being distracted while behind the wheel.

While they can’t follow a moving vehicle, they will be watching vehicles stopped at intersections. If they see someone is distracted, they’ll take a photo or radio to an officer closer to the intersection to flag down the vehicle.

While the biggest reason for the new strategy is people distracted by cell phones, they will be looking for any other type of distraction as well:

“Putting on makeup, eating a bowl of cereal, reading a novel — we see all sorts of things as people are sitting in traffic,” said Wutke.

Overall I agree with this new strategy. Seemingly every day on my drive to and from work, delays are caused at lights were people are distracted and miss the light change. While less efficient traffic is a problem, those people are also more likely to be distracted while moving. Seeing someone distracted, swerving in their lane at highway speeds is unnerving every time and distraction does result in accidents.

OneCore to Rule Them All

Peter Bright at ArsTechnica has the detailed and fascinating story on how Microsoft came to have a single kernel for all Windows devices: OneCore. So far, Microsoft is the first in the consumer operating system space1 to achieve this feat:

Microsoft can now credibly speak of having one operating system (with Windows 10 as its most familiar branding) that can span hardware from little embedded Internet of Things devices to games consoles to PCs to cloud-scale server farms. At its heart is a slimmed down, modularized operating system dubbed OneCore. Windows 10, Windows Server, Xbox 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 IoT, and the HoloLens operating system are all built on this same foundation.

It took a long time to reach this point. Along the way, Microsoft built three major operating system families, killed two of them off, and even reorganized the entire company. In the end, all that action was necessary in order to make building a single operating system practical. Apple and Google will probably do something similar with their various operating systems, but Microsoft has managed it first.

This is an incredible feat, particularly that this was accomplished while still maintaining Microsoft’s sometimes extreme levels of backwards compatibility.

OneCore comes with initial benefits for Microsoft and third party developers; however, consumers will reap the benefits indirectly in the long term:

Perhaps the biggest gains, for both developers and users, come from unexpected new platforms. When the first work on MinWin was started, nobody could have imagined that one day HoloLens might exist. But with the OneCore platform, adding support for this new hardware becomes relatively straightforward.

The past decade has been an incredible period of technological innovation, with the next decade looking just as bright as all of the technology companies fire on all cylinders. I can’t wait to see and be a part of what comes next.

  1. Yes, technically Linux was first — by a long shot. Let’s be honest though: Linux has negligible market-share and impact on the consumer desktop market; its dominance is on server and, arguably, embedded systems.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival

Indefinitely Wild has a fascinating look into the “Rewarming Drill”, performed by Navy SEALs to prepare for extreme cold weather survival:

The troops would drop their packs on the shore and march ahead fully clothed until they were neck deep in frigid water. For 12 minutes they shivered until John gave the order. With their clothes sopping, violently shaking, they emerged from the cold lake into colder air.

It’s absolutely incredible how they recover from their swim, and a true testament to the value of having the best equipment in the worst conditions:

“With a great clothing system there’s no need to carry extra layers,” John says. “It should be able to perform as a symbiotic system in the most uncompromising situations.