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Reaperbryan

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Wanna talk about caffeine for a minute.

Caffeine is a drug, albeit one that's not too heavily regulated. It is most often consumed by Americans in the form of coffee and caffeinated soft drinks. The caffeine in Coca-Cola is usually extracted from coffee in the process of decaffeinating the coffee, although I've never seen any point in decaf coffee.

The reason I bring this up is that during WWII, a crisis of sorts emerged: Coca-Cola was having trouble obtaining the ingredients to manufacture their soda. In particular, caffeine. Y'see, wartime rationing was in effect, and coffee in particular was hit hard; coffee was an IMPORT, and any imported product got squeezed by new shipping regulations and rationing, right?

Where were they gonna get the caffeine for your Coke?

Coca-Cola put their army of food scientists to work. And a couple of them found an answer: synthetic caffeine. These two Giants Of Science actually figured out a way to synthesize a molecule almost exactly like caffeine, that had the exact same effects on the human body, no better, no worse. Just synthesize this caffeine from an easily available domestic product found in America, and we're good to go!

The Coke executives were joyous. Problem solved! What, exactly, IS this easily and cheaply available ingredient from which you synthesize caffeine?

And the scientists grinned and said, "Bat guano."

...........bat guano?

Yup. There's millions of Mexican freetail bats living in Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and they routinely bring out tons of bat poop to use as fertilizer. Price is way easy, and we can synthesize caffeine directly from it, in bulk, no sweatski. Is the word given, Admiral?

And after a very brief meeting, the head executives of Coca-Cola promptly killed the program, bluntly admitting that they never wanted to face the consequences to themselves or the Sacred Brand if the public EVER found out what they were drinking....

 

 

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It's popular in certain circles to talk about all the caffeine in chocolate. There is usually a tiny amount of caffeine, but most of the stimulant effect comes from theobromine, which is an analogous alkaloid. "Theobromine" is derived from the (Greek) taxonomic name of the tree and refers to "food of the gods".

 

Theobromine is, of course, toxic, though not a significant problem for most people in the quantities that it's usually consumed.

 

The poison is in the dose, as always.

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34 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

It's popular in certain circles to talk about all the caffeine in chocolate. There is usually a tiny amount of caffeine, but most of the stimulant effect comes from theobromine, which is an analogous alkaloid. "Theobromine" is derived from the (Greek) taxonomic name of the tree and refers to "food of the gods".

 

Theobromine is, of course, toxic, though not a significant problem for most people in the quantities that it's usually consumed.

 

The poison is in the dose, as always.

 

And is poisonous and sometimes lethal to dogs!

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Don't get me started about caffeine in chocolate. Years ago, I worked at a psych center where chocolate was treated like an opiate, because we couldn't have the patients getting any chocolate, lest they go berserk or their heads explode...

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1 hour ago, Glitterwolf said:

 

And is poisonous and sometimes lethal to dogs!

 

Theobromine is only twice as lethal per kg of dog as it is per kg of human.

 

The issue with dogs and chocolate is two-fold. Dogs are generally smaller than humans and dogs have somewhat less impulse control than even the grabbiest of humans. So a large dog helps a kid eat a chocolate bar, not going to hurt anyone. A six pound terrier gets into the pantry and eats a pound of baking chocolate, that's a problem.

 

It's easier to ignore the scale issues involved and just tell people that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Because some people are both indulgent and dumb.

 

Disclaimer: DO NOT USE MY WORDS AS EXCUSE TO FEED YOUR CHIHUAHUA A POUND OF BAKING CHOCOLATE! PEOPLE THAT DUMB DO EXIST AND IT'S WHY THIS KNOWLEDGE IS GENERALLY SUPPRESSED!

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4 minutes ago, NebulousMissy said:

 

Theobromine is only twice as lethal per kg of dog as it is per kg of human.

 

The issue with dogs and chocolate is two-fold. Dogs are generally smaller than humans and dogs have somewhat less impulse control than even the grabbiest of humans. So a large dog helps a kid eat a chocolate bar, not going to hurt anyone. A six pound terrier gets into the pantry and eats a pound of baking chocolate, that's a problem.

 

It's easier to ignore the scale issues involved and just tell people that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Because some people are both indulgent and dumb.

 

Disclaimer: DO NOT USE MY WORDS AS EXCUSE TO FEED YOUR CHIHUAHUA A POUND OF BAKING CHOCOLATE! PEOPLE THAT DUMB DO EXIST AND IT'S WHY THIS KNOWLEDGE IS GENERALLY SUPPRESSED!

 

True, and it also depends on the type of chocolate, the darker/purer the more issues it can give.

People just shouldn't feed a dog chocolate.

Give your dog a nice dog treat that's meant for it.

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My words were also more meant for the people who panic when their boxer/great dane/labrador/mastiff eats a small square of milk chocolate because five year olds will share things. Your dog has an actual weight, that dose isn't even enough to cause a bellyache, stop panicking you're making it worse.

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4 minutes ago, NebulousMissy said:

My words were also more meant for the people who panic when their boxer/great dane/labrador/mastiff eats a small square of milk chocolate because five year olds will share things. Your dog has an actual weight, that dose isn't even enough to cause a bellyache, stop panicking you're making it worse.

 

Also true.

A little piece that falls is not a problem, it becomes a problem when some dufus starts feeding a whole dark bar to a small dog.

It also depends what kind of dog it is, some breeds have more problems with it than others.

 

 

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I understand that grapes, garlic, and onion is also poisonous to dogs. Knowing is half the battle, after all, and if someone reads this and remembers not to feed chocolate or onions to the dog, I feel that something of worth has been accomplished.

And now I will talk about something of worth, and how little can be accomplished with it.

1. POSTAGE STAMPS

There is in England a chap name of Angus McDonagh. He's apparently been making his own postage stamps for years, and mailing letters with them, and getting away with it. For years. And British postage stamps are really no cheaper than American, taken as a whole. 
post-1_2716894c.jpg.4dfa4b283413654dc9f19a81ff5b29f2.jpg
He apparently started out simply scanning and printing copies of Royal Mail stamps, but over time branched out, and began using his own face on them, including a special Christmas stamp featuring him with a Santa hat and beard. Over time, he apparently just quit TRYING to fool anyone, and printed up any damn thing he liked, and mailed letters  with them, and no one noticed, still. The story broke when he outed HIMSELF to the London Telegraph; the story can be found HERE, for the morbidly interested. Which makes me wonder about British postal inspectors...

And this leads us to the even WEIRDER story of...

2. ONE DOLLAR BILLS

Counterfeiting is almost as old as the concept of money itself. It got REALLY popular when paper currency began to replace precious metals. After all, how much skill does it take to make fake paper coupons? And this has led to a sort of arms race between governments, who are rather selfish about who gets to print money, and jolly freeloaders determined to profit by printing their own. As technology and art advanced, though, and it got harder to fake, most counterfeiters tend to do very limited print runs of LARGE denominations of currency... $100 bills being most popular, but some counterfeiters have gone on to print fifties, and even twenties.

Only one counterfeiter in history has printed $1 dollar bills. One guy. They called him Mister 880.

Y'see, the Secret Service, in addition to the unenviable job of bodyguarding the President, has other duties, one of which is jurisdiction over investigations dealing with counterfeiting. And they took an interest when fake ones began turning up in New York City, circa 1938. And they gave this Case Number 880. And it slowly began to drive them crazy.

I mean, on the FACE of it, it seemed EASY. The bills ONLY turned up in a small area in Manhattan. The bills were VERY badly made; one of Washington's eyes was an ink splotch, and the fine linework visible on any bill was simply suggested, as opposed to executed. As opposed to the linen pulp paper used for currency at the time, THESE bills were made on what seemed to be laundered typing paper. Furthermore, as more bills began to turn up, it was obvious some were from different print runs; one particular run of bills spelled the name on the portrait as "Wahsington." But at the height of the Depression, who'd look too close at a one dollar bill?

It started out low priority for the Secret Service, but ten years later, it was becoming an itchy embarrassment. Whoever was passing the bills seldom did so in the same place twice, and despite the SS's best efforts, he eluded them as if he were invisible. A map set up to track his activities was THICK with red pushpins... in this one small area of Manhattan, with occasional outliers elsewhere in the city. Who WAS this lunatic, and how was he getting away with it? Over time, it achieved Holy Grail status with the Service; OTHER, more ambitious counterfeiting cases cracked and were done, but this one guy in New York was nothing short of invisible, and it was GETTING to the Secret Service, as they began personally interviewing every shopkeeper who turned up one of the fake bills. It was, at its height, the biggest counterfeiting investigation in the Secret Service's history.

The case finally broke in 1947. NOT because of dogged investigation... NOT because of clever or determined police work.

The fall came after a group of kids found a toy handcranked printing press, some engraved zinc plates, and some actual bills in the garbage behind their apartment building. The children took one look at the money and concluded that it was play money, as it looked quite fake. One kid's parents looked at it... asked a few questions... and called the cops. Who looked at the money, and called the SS. Who showed up and investigated.

Turns out that an apartment fire the previous week had put an old man out on the street, one Edward Mueller, who'd barely escaped with the clothes on his back; his beloved terrier had died in said fire, and he'd lost everything he had. The printing press was in the middle of a pile of his burnt possessions, tossed out by the firemen. He had since moved to Queens to live with his daughter while he figured out what to do. And it was there that the Secret Service finally caught up with him.

He'd been retired for years, and basically just printed enough money to make ends meet occasionally when his income ran short. His total crime against the economy ran to roughly $5000 over a period of ten years. And he seldom passed a bill in the same place twice because he felt bad about hurting the neighborhood merchants; he usually passed the bills at various places as he walked his dog on various routes. His apartment was indeed smack dab in the center of the cluster of red pins on the map. Further investigation revealed he almost never spent the funny money on anything except food for human and dog.

A federal judge sentenced him to one year and one day; good behavior meant he actually served about four months. He paid a fine... of one dollar... which, it is said, the clerk examined very carefully before giving a receipt. The judge cited Mueller's sad circumstances and "complete lack of greed" as his reasoning behind the unusually light sentence.

New York Daily News has a nice little puff piece on it here. In addition, Hollywood later bought the rights to Mueller's story, and made Mister 880, a rather odd little comedy loosely based on the true events. It starred Burt Lancaster as the intrepid Secret Service investigator... and Edmund Gwenn, aka "Kris Kringle, Miracle On 34th Street" as Mueller.

 

Mister_880.jpg.0a0355344de708391a10746ec3eff0a0.jpg Wanna see the movie trailer on Youtube? Click here!

 

Oh, yeah... in the late seventies, the Canon corporation sold a photocopier that was so good, it printed disturbingly good copies of American currency, when laid on the plate. With a little practice, you could get it to do accurate front and back copies of entire sheets of money. After a little consultation with government officials, this particular model of printer was removed from the market, and today, you'll find that commercial copiers do NOT print decent copies of currency; several, in fact, will black out the whole sheet of paper if you try.

The Secret Service also has a file on this one counterfeiter they caught. He didn't print anything. What he DID was to clip the corners off a twenty, and glue them onto the front corners of a one. He was manufacturing reasonably good twenty dollar bills... at a cost of $21 per bill.

They busted him anyway.

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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On fake postage stamps:

 

There's a minor industry among certain artists in making and mailing postage stamps that aren't real. E.g., 

 

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/michael-hernandez-de-luna-carl-hammer-gallery-review/Content?oid=21681834

 

One of the interesting things about these is that, like the McDonagh stamp above, they aren't really (usually) counterfeits, since only their use suggests that they are actual stamps. They don't purport to have a specific value or be the product of any country, so the makers aren't really passing them off as financial instruments.

 

It would be much the same if you were to try to get into a concert using a King Soopers coupon. You're not attempting to pass off a forgery. Though that latter would probably work less well.

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1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:

On fake postage stamps:

 

There's a minor industry among certain artists in making and mailing postage stamps that aren't real. E.g., 

 

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/michael-hernandez-de-luna-carl-hammer-gallery-review/Content?oid=21681834

 

One of the interesting things about these is that, like the McDonagh stamp above, they aren't really (usually) counterfeits, since only their use suggests that they are actual stamps. They don't purport to have a specific value or be the product of any country, so the makers aren't really passing them off as financial instruments.

 

It would be much the same if you were to try to get into a concert using a King Soopers coupon. You're not attempting to pass off a forgery. Though that latter would probably work less well.

 

I did not know that.

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Hollywood Reporter tells us that Zombieland 2 is a go, and that all the original cast has agreed to return to reprise their roles.

Well, the main four cast members. The zombies are still questionable. And Bill Murray is dead in that universe, so we won't be seeing HIM.

 

zombieland-2-plot-700x300.jpg

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The town I grew up in, West Chester, PA, was originally named Turk's Head, for The Turk's Head Inn, which was right in the center of town.  Chester County is a very historic area of Pennsylvania, and was of importance during the Revolutionary War.  The Battle of the Brandywine was fought just a few miles away. When I was very young, The Turk's Head was still stood in the center of town, but when I was about 6 or 7, it was finally torn down, and a bank was built in its place.  :-(

 

And the composer Samuel Barber (Adagio for Strings) was born and raised in West Chester.  His family home is only a few blocks from where we lived.  He also wrote our high school alma mater.

 

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17 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

The Secret Service also has a file on this one counterfeiter they caught. He didn't print anything. What he DID was to clip the corners off a twenty, and glue them onto the front corners of a one. He was manufacturing reasonably good twenty dollar bills... at a cost of $21 per bill.

They busted him anyway.

I remember reading or hearing about that scheme / scam. But the price formula was different. It was $81 to make $100. (No twenty was asked to donate more than one corner. In this version the 4 dog-eared twenties were still worth $80.)

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