- Eating red meat will not hurt your heart. This is not news to people who’ve been paying attention. Alas, meat has been slandered as deadly for so many years that we’re going to be shooting this lie in the head for decades before it finally bleeds to death.
- There are at least two efforts underway to back-breed the aurochs, a very large and ill-tempered ruminant that went extinct in 1627. I made use of aurochs in The Cunning Blood; the Moomoos (basically, cowboys on Hell) had difficulty herding them until they domesticated the mastodon and rode mastodons instead of horses.
- Who will fact-check the fact-checkers? In truth, there is no answer to this question, which heads toward an infinite regress at a dead run. Nobody trusts anybody else in journalism today. To me, this means that journalism as an industry might as well be dead.
- Even the New York Times is willing to admit that cold weather is 17 times deadlier than warm weather. This is one reason we moved to Arizona: Winters have been nasty in Colorado for several years, and I have an intuition that flatlining solar activity may make things a lot colder before they get warmer.
- Russian scientists evidently agree with me. And y’know, the Russians might just know a few things about cold weather.
- The Army is accelerating development of a railgun compact enough to fire from something the size and shape of a howitzer. 10 rounds per minute, too. With one of those you could poke a lot of very big holes in very big things in a very big hurry. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)
- Can’t afford a howitzer railgun? How about a snowboard powered by ducted fans? The idea is cool. Watching the guy put it together in fast-motion is cooler.
- SF writer Paul Mauser suggests that publishing’s gatekeeper function has been crowdsourced on the indie side, and I agree. You can’t always tell if an indie book is good before you buy it. Guess what? You can’t always tell if a print book is good before you buy it. Manhattan’s imprints can barely pay the rent and want interns to work in editorial for free. Warning: It’s handy to have gatekeepers who know how gates work, and why.
- Gatekeepers? Where were the gatekeepers when Kaavya Viswanathan allegedly cribbed a whole novel together from other authors’ work and then sold it to Little, Brown for half a million bucks?
- Pertinent to the above: There’s a very nice site devoted to plagiarism, which is evidently a far bigger problem than I would have guessed.
- An obscure author (of three memoirs) claimed that indie publishing is “an insult to the written word.” Watch Larry Correia lay waste to her essay. Don’t be drinking Diet Mountain Dew while you read it, now. Green stuff pouring out of your nose is generally embarrassing.
- This item is probably not what you think it is. The manufacturer could probably have used a little gatekeeping on the product design side.
Short items presented without much discussion, generally links to other Web items
I’ve been low-energy for a month or so, following the worst chestcold I can recall. Still coughing a little bit; still low-energy. I’m working up the nerve to write a a series on health insurance that will doubtless infuriate everyone, but since I’m also furious, I guess it factors out. Stay tuned.
HBO is making no friends with their current stunt, which was to harrass a 13-year-old girl for posting a painting entitled “Winter Is Coming.” The painting has nothing whatsoever to do with Game of Thrones, as any fool with three brain cells could tell. Granted, it may be like me giving up whisky for lent, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever give HBO a nickle. I’m a little surprised this hasn’t gone more viral than it has; give it a hand if you can.
Why did we move to Phoenix? Lots of reasons, but this recent video set from Montreal is the biggie: Frozen water liquefies on compression, greatly reducing the coefficient of friction. In simpler terms, when it snows, heavy stuff runs into other heavy stuff, and makes lots of broken stuff, including (in this case) a snowplow trying to stuff a police car into the hind-end of a city bus.
And here’s the reason we didn’t move to North Dakota, not that that was ever a possibility. Hell, I’ve already done my time in Chicago.
We’ve just seen the steepest drop in global temps since record-keeping began, almost certainly due to the end of the near-record El Nino we’ve been having. A temperature spike is not climate. It’s weather. What El Nino gives, La Nina takes away.
SF writers, heads up: Here’s one of the best sites I’ve ever seen on advanced rocket tech, much of which was completely new to me.
Articles like these can get tiresome if you’re not an enthusiast, but I continue to post them because we need to break people of the government-forged assumption that fat is bad for you. Eating more fat may help you lose weight, depending on the specifics of your metabolism. It certainly did for me. That said, making universal statements is impossible because of individual differences in human beings. As I said in my metadiet picobook, you are the experiment. Do the science.
And another: Butter won’t hurt you. Margarine could kill you. New science shows animal fats to be harmless, but when you get to the end, read carefully: The supposed health experts in the UK simply reject the science out of hand, because to do otherwise would require them to admit that they’re wrong. Experts never do that, because if they did, it would mean that they’ve been fake experts all along. (Thanks to UK reader Dermot Dobson for the link.)
I call this sort of thing a sarcalisticle, and here’s one about the Republic (not the state) of Georgia. I’m interested in Georgia because it’s the world center of medical bacteriophage research. There may be a local-color thriller in that, involving a near future in which we’re confronted by a bacterial plague that defies all antibiotics. I hadn’t given any thought to actually going there, but I admit, the pictures make it look pretty good. Lonely Planet has more photos and additional information.
Here’s yet another way that Obamacare is screwing patients: Insurers publish lists of in-network providers, and those lists are often hideously inaccurate. There are rules governing directory accuracy, and those rules are rarely enforced. My solution: Require providers to remain on a network list for five years after signing up for it, and pull the licenses of providers who refuse to treat patients who are in-network according to the current directory. Better, fine insurers heavily (I’m talking many millions of dollars per error) for leaving errors in their directories. Better still: Forget networks (which are just back-door care rationing anyway) and go back to the days of “any willing provider.”
Narrow networks can be so narrow that for some patients, care is impossibly far away. To me, this is serious insurance fraud. Somebody should do hard time. I nominate Jonathan Gruber.
Although I generally don’t do politics, ESR published a brilliant essay about the recent election that I think needs to be read in its entirety by both sides, keeping in mind that he is not a Republican. (Neither am I; there are such creatures as political independents in the world, really. In fact, I’m pretty sure that independents decided the recent election.)
- I’m ok; stop fretting. I caught a very bad chestcold, which has had me spending a lot of time in bed for the past week or so, time I might otherwise have spent writing. Before that, I was trying to figure out how to obtain health insurance in a county where the cheapest plan costs $25,000 a year, with a $14,000 deductible. It’s been a yukky month, let’s say.
- Deciding what to write has been a challenge. People are complaining about the (lack of) size of my backlist, so what I really need to be doing is writing a few short novels, but writing them quickly. After all, Larry Correia’s two-word formula for success in SFF is “Be Prolific!” An ambitious novel set in the Gaean universe might take me 18 months. Drumlin Circus took me six weeks. I need to do that again. And again. And again after that.
- Spending time in zero-G is evidently bad for your eyeballs. Not yet precisely sure why, but it may be another case of humans being evolved for a particular environment, like, well, gravity.
- So far as we can tell, the efficiency of the Em Drive is related to the Q of the resonant cavity. What, then, might happen if we coated the interior of the truncated cone with a room-temperature superconductor? No, I don’t necessarily believe that it works. But damn, I sure hope it does. And as I said about cold fusion, even if the Em Drive isn’t actually a drive, it could be something else interesting and possibly useful. Research needs to continue.
- Lazarus 1.6.2 has been released. It’s all bug fixes, but still worth having.
- Giving children whole milk (rather than lowfat or skim) makes them leaner and generally healthier. Lowfat and skim milk are a scam. Producers tell you skim milk is healthy, sell you the skim milk, and then sell the cream to somebody else. Don’t fall for it. Skim milk is fed to pigs because it keeps them eating.
- Eggs are good too: Eating one egg a day reduces your risk of stroke by 12%. I eat two. Fried in butter. (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.)
- In 1919, big chunks of Boston were leveled by a tsunami of…molasses. This is one of my favorite episodes from American history, and here’s a good summary.
- As Glenn Reynolds said of this link, Choose your poison: Craft beer sales are dropping in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
- Testable predictions are the key to solid science. A University of Arizona scientist has told us that within ten years, climate change will wipe out all human life on Earth. Let’s put it on our calendars and show him how much we f&$@** love science, whaddaya say? We could make it the biggest story of 2026. The man deserves to be famous for such hard-hitting research.
- There should be plenty of takers: A global UN poll asking what people around the world consider important shows that climate change comes in dead last.
- A separate poll shows that Americans are more afraid of clowns than climate change. After thinking about it for a second…I am too.
- Cross a hot tub with a roller coaster and you get…what? I’m still not sure riding a roller coaster dressed in nothing but a towel couldn’t have, well, unintended consequences.
- It’s this simple, really: Fake news is news your tribe disagrees with. Keep that in mind when the scrubbing starts.
- Take a look at Visuino, which is a visual development environment for the Arduino embedded processor family. This is a beautiful thing, and makes me wish I still ran a certain magazine.
- And there’s a new default OS for the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. (Don’t try it on the earlier boards, nor the Pi Zero.) Looks good from here, and my RPi 3 will get the treatment as time allows.
- 75 years ago, there was a butt-kicking geomagnetic storm. Not exactly Carrington, but it makes me wonder how our infinitely more electronic culture would respond to such a storm today.
- Chemporn: How sodium and other twitchy elements burn.
- As of today, there are no Obamacare individual policies available in Maricopa County, Arizona. None. Granted, open enrollment does not begin until November 1, but we qualify to purchase because we’re moving interstate. Arizona officials are still reviewing a proposal from Centene to offer an HMO here, and if approved, it would be the only plan available in this county. This is not a robust healthcare marketplace. This is a law that has already imploded.
- More evidence? Here’s the firehose.
- Implosions, anybody? Great rant about the ongoing imposion of the media elite.
- Low testosterone appears to predispose men to dementia. It’s unclear (and no longer automatically asserted) that high testosterone predisposes men to prostate cancer. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)
- There is a very nice online PDF calendar generator that will create a calendar in PDF format for any string of months you might want. (The site has much else worth exploring related to calendrics.) You can add in holidays, solstices/equinoxes, phases of the moon, and so on. This pretty much makes my 1999 copy of Calendar Creator…useless. (Thanks to reader Spook for the link.)
- How The Atlantic explains Donald Trump: The media takes him literally but not seriously, and his fans take him seriously but not literally. This may in fact explain a great deal.
- Our night-time low here dropped into the 50s last night for the first time since we got back here in late July. The pool water is now down to 81, sigh. Autumn is icumin in; cul sinks the pul.
- One reason I’ve never written a sequel (much less a series) is that I have a terror of becoming boring by writing about the same people in the same setting multiple times. Pam Uphoff discusses this well on MGC. It’s not inevitable, but it has to be done…carefully. (I’ve dipped my toes in the water by writing several stories and a short novel set on the Drumlins World.)
- Melatonin may act against migraines. If that’s an issue for you, give it a shot…but keep in mind that melatonin does affect your sleep cycles, and taking it any time except before bed can be hazardous. Also, when I was trying it for insomnia after Coriolis imploded, my sleep timing went nuts, which isn’t typical but is clearly a possible side effect.
- The sugar industry bribed scientists back in the ’60s to push the blame for obesity from sugar to fat. Furthermore, the scientists they bribed were at all-powerful Harvard. Lessons: Science is corruptible (we knew that, from science fraudster Ancel Keys) and Harvard is just an ordinary university with a highly inflated rep and 35 billion dollars.
- I’m an inflation hawk. Here’s a good explanation of why. (Also see Adam Fergusson’s superb book When Money Dies .) I have a postage stamp here on my desk from Weimar Germany with the value 50 million marks, to remind me what’s at stake. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)
- Measuring sea level accurately (like, to millimeter accuracy) is well-nigh impossible for a whole ravening horde of reasons. The studies mentioned suggest that AGW contributes very little to sea level changes, and what contribution is real may not be determinable. (Thanks for the link go to Charlie Martin.)
- More from the sagacious McMegan: It’s almost impossible to determine how many people have gained insurance because of Obamacare. It might be 15 million people. It might be 20 million. Or 10 million. The problem, of course, is that it shot the policies out from under millions of other people (Carol and I included), who were enraged because we were promised from The Very Top that this simply would not happen. Period. End of story.
- Here’s a good, detailed explanation from Dr. Eades of the glycemic index and why it may not be as useful a measure as we’ve come to think. It’s probably a lot more useful than the BMI, which is not only worthless but damaging.
- From Esther Schindler comes word that American cheese is not as bad as you think. Then again, as with tomato soup and other things we had incessantly when I was a kid, I may have had quite enough of it, thanks.
- Heads up: Today is the last day you can register (for free) to vote for the Dragon Awards, which will be presented at DragonCon next weekend. The Hugo Awards have made their preferences clearly known; for the cast-out Puppy cohort the Dragons are every bit as good and probably better.
- The least affordable American cities, and how much you need to be making to buy a home in them. Do you need to live in Silicon Valley to have a satisfying career? No. Whatever salary you make will go direct to landlords, or to long-time homeowners who will take your million+ and retire. Get Thy Ass Unto Omaha.
- Zerohedge posted a chart showing how much Obamacare premiums are going up in 2017, by state. Carol and I have been paying $20,000 per year for premiums since the ACA killed our pre-ACA policy. (Didn’t somebody important say we could keep our plan if we liked it?) This is starting to make Medicare look good. (Thanks to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- The FTC is going after a large publisher of nominally peer-reviewed scientific journals, claiming that almost no peer review is done on the articles. Also, people named as editors by the publisher were often not affiliated with the firm in any way. Sigh. Peer review is not any sort of gold standard these days. I’m thinking it might be a zinc standard, or perhaps a tin standard.
- People scratch their heads when I say that Woodrow Wilson was the worst US President ever. He is also the most-bleached. The reasons I loathe him begin with his racism but are mostly about his hatred of the US Constitution. He came as close as any President ever did to being a dictator, and that’s precisely what he wanted to be.
- Here’s a map depicting every cargo ship in the world and where it was going at the displayed time. Yes, yes, the map is from 2012, but it’s a good illustration of how goods move around the world. I don’t see any action in the Northwest Passage, but there are ships going up and down the coast of Greenland, and a few crossing under South America through Tierra Del Fuego.
- Here are some photos of more Tarzans and Janes than I’ve ever seen in one place, gathered at LACon in 1975 for the 100th birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- Heh. I was a big Tarzan fan in grade school. And I actually met Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. In fact, I think she may have been about to ask me down to the bar for a drink. Or maybe not; and I wonder if I missed a chance to make a fascinating new friend that night.
- Friday was International Boron Appreciation Day, and in the excitement of National Dog Day, I missed it. How could you blame me? There wasn’t a mule in sight. (Thanks again to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- Today is Go Topless Day. Why don’t they have a National Ytterbium Appreciation Day? I can go topless any time, but damn, ytterbium gets no respect at all!
- Whew. We’re in Phoenix, now permanently, with the Colorado house on MLS. Much remains to be done, but the immense project of getting our house emptied and ready to sell has been nailed. The Smaller But Still Significant Truck Full of Stuff has emptied itself into our living room, and we have a week or two of sorting and sifting and putting away. Overall, we’re in good shape.
- Iconic Mad Magazine cartoonist Jack Davis has died, at 91. I’ll readily admit that I used to read Mad while I was in high school, though not where my parents could see me. Humor mattered to me, as it does to this day. The only Mad artist who rivaled him in my view was Mort Drucker, who is still with us. (“I don’t believe your ears either, Mr. Spook.”)
- I’m wondering if it would be possible to write a Windows-like user shell for Windows 10 IOT, which is available for the RPi. (You would be perfectly justified, this time at least, in asking “Why would you want to do that? Answer: Because it would be a cool hack, and it would probably annoy Microsoft, which is always a plus.)
- Do you see the sunspot? I don’t see the sunspot.
- We have now gone a record 129 months without a major hurricane making landfall on the US mainland. One of my friends continues to argue that Superstorm Sandy was a major hurricane because of the damage it caused. Ok…except “major hurricane” is a technical term in climate science, with a technical definition: Class 3 or above. Sandy was Class 2 when it hit the Atlantic Coast, and not a hurricane at all when it did the most damage. We’re talking about sustained wind speed, which is the only way we have to objectively classify hurricanes and get a handle on hurricane trends over time.
- I got the impression (see above) that I was supposed to bow my head and whisper, “Hurricane Sandy was a horrible tragedy,” every time I talked about hurricane physics. Uhhhh…no. That’s like requiring me to say, “Nuclear bombs are horrible things,” every time I talk about the physics of nuclear fission. Sorry. Not gonna happen. Emotion has no place in science, except to politicize discussion and demonize dissent.
- Where do Americans smoke the most weed? No points for guessing Colorado, though central Maine has a surprising constituency. What else do you do during those interminably miserable winters? (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.)
- Speaking of which, Donald Trump supports allowing states to legalize marijuana, a position neither our president nor Hillary Clinton has taken. This is truly the weirdest presidential election in my considerable lifetime.
- To be honest, I’m more interested in nootropics. Here’s a light article worth citing because it mentions a nootropic I had not heard of before: L-theanine.
- Which is best used in conjunction with the oldest and probably best nootropic of all. Drinking coffee significantly reduces the risk of suicide. Well, caffeine raises mood, therefore acting against depression, and depressed people are those mostly likely to kill themselves.
- Oh, and coffee acts against prostate cancer, too. I never drank coffee regularly until I was 33. I hope that wasn’t too late.
- We had numerous Nash Ramblers when I was a kid. The company just turned 100, even though they became AMC and got devoured by Chrysler years ago. Nash did a lot of good stuff, some of it far earlier than their competition.
- Why do I have to say this so much? Genuine virtue does not need signaling. I’ve come to the conclusion that all signaled virtue is fake. The rest of us are onto you. Just stop.
- Somebody over at USA Today seems to think that Colorado is just a little too high… (Thanks to Sarah Hoyt for the link.)
- Not new news, but startling: They’re still digging up live, century-old ordnance in France and Belgium. I suspect they’ll still be digging it up a century from now.
- Here’s an overview of how to write custom components for the Lazarus Component Library (LCL). Doesn’t have anything on Ray Konopka’s book, alas.
- How much of each chemical element is there in the Earth’s crust? Among other revelations, there’s 150% as much ytterbium as uranium. In fact, there’s more ytterbium on Earth than tin.
- There is a small circuit-board add-on that snaps onto a Raspberry Pi and provides a tube audio amp. (Thanks to Rick Hellewell for the link.)
- Going further back in Unlikely Time reveals a plethora of Steampunk Raspberry Pi cases.
- In truth, my experience shows that you can search for images of “steampunk [whatever]” and find it. Oftentimes a lot of it. Try steampunk Geiger counters.
- Ya blink and ya miss it: Sandisk now has a 512GB SD card.
- Note well: There are also fakes. Amazon keeps taking them down, and they keep coming back. (Read the single comment.)
- Baron Waste sends a link to a marvelous gallery of high-res photos of mechanical calculator innards. One of the inspirations for The Cunning Blood was the insight that my Selectric typewriter contained no electronics at all, and could be run from a windmill or a water wheel.
- From the I-Am-Not-Making-This-Up Department: Wikipedia has a list of sexually active popes; it’s incomplete. Who knew?
- A guy at a Russian Renaissance Faire hurled a spear at a drone–and hit it. That is capital-B badassery in my book. Me, I would have used a Wrist Rocket–but I’m neither medieval nor Russian.
- Not all of us are fooled: If you have to signal it, it’s not virtue.
- A reminder: I try to credit anyone who sends me an interesting link when I post Odd Lots entries. If you don’t want to be credited by name for whatever reason, please tell me.
- Azounding is a brand-new announcement and promotion site for indie SFF. I’m participating, but with hauling stuff up and down stairs all the time, I really haven’t had the energy to get a promo together so far. But it’s definitely a site to check at least every few days lest you miss some countdown deals.
- More evidence that cholesterol has little if any link to heart disease, from a study that was done 40 years ago and never completely published. I smell Ancel Keys disease here, and I’m guessing tens of millions of people have died from it. (Thanks to Tom Roderick and several others for the link.)
- Neal Rest sends a link to another article on the same topic: Records found in dusty basement undermine decades of dietary advice.
- And still another, from reason.com. No, red meat and dairy is not a death sentence. It might in fact buy you additional years of life.
- Diseases out of Africa may have accelerated the Neanderthals’ demise. Or maybe they dawn-raided themselves into extinction. Or a billion other things. If God ever allows me to ask him ten questions, that’ll be #1.
- From Esther Schindler: NASA has released a new gravity map of Mars. How much ytterbium is in the Martian mascons? Restless minds want to know.
- Also from Esther: Women book air travel earlier than men, saving more money…and older people book the earliest of all. (Is that because time just goes faster for us?)
- Is it just me, or would calling #2531 a sunspot stretch the truth maybe a little? As I always ask in situations like this, What would Edmond Halley see?
- Gary Frerking sent me over to LumaStream LED lighting, which is developing a low-voltage lighting infrastructure that avoids the need to downconvert 120VAC to 12VDC in each bulb by doing the conversion up front. It looks like they’re targeting commercial lighting, but they’ve clearly proven out the idea that low-voltage DC systems can work.
- There’s a word for almost everything else in the English language; there should be a word for “the sadness that comes upon a tech writer when he must tip over a hundred pounds of his now-obsolete tech books (the ones he himself wrote) into the recycle bin.”
- A widely linked-to article speculates on how the ancient Egyptians could have made pyramid-building easier by turning their titanic rectangular blocks into dodecagons (12-sided polygons, done using rope and logs) and rolling them instead of dragging them. Problem is, a number of people misread the piece and said “dodecahedron” instead of “decagon” in their links. Geometry matters, people.
- Via Cory Doctorow: Original illustrations from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. 1864. Cool, but one wonders if they went a trifle cheap on the artist.
- My asshat alma mater is banning chalk, because somebody might get the vapors reading the word “Trump” in chalk. Sorry, fools. This is not what a real university does. I loathe Trump, but free speech trumps that, as it were. You get none of my money. And I will slander you mercilessly until the end of my days.
- It appears that Learning Computer Architecture with the Raspberry Pi is a live project and will be published sometime late summer. (I don’t think the June date given on Amazon is realistic.) I’ll keep you posted.
- An art student built this bogglingly complex mechanical clock out of…wood. It doesn’t just tell the time–it writes out the time every minute. I think he’s in the wrong curriculum. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
- From Charlie Martin: Are black holes really quantum computers? Depends on whether there really are gravitons.
- Also from Aeon, an article that agrees with what I’ve been saying for years: Even if LENR (i.e., cold fusion) isn’t actually fusion, it might be something interesting and useful, and research should continue.
- I’ve also been saying this for years: Fruit juice is no healthier than soda. Both are nearly all sugar, and both will eventually kill you. Fruit juice is basically fruit-flavored sugar; all the stuff that might conceivably be good for you (fiber, mostly) is thrown away.
- It gets worse: New research suggests that long-term vegetarian diets predispose people to heart disease and cancer. It’s complicated; read the whole thing, and then consider this item from phys.org, which may be the research that the other article is talking about. What Cornell was researching were evolutionary adaptations to different diets, and if you eat against your evolution, you may be causing yourself problems. That seems reasonable to me.
- Something about this purely textual clock appeals to me.
- Here we have Wayne’s Radios, which focuses on vintage radios, some deco, most midcentury modern, all of them interesting. Oh, and a few dinner plates for flavor. Or something.
- Nonetheless, if you’re going out to dinner, insist on plates. Because eating dinner out of vintage radios can be hazardous to your health.
- This is by far the worst wine I’ve ever tasted. The runner-up was evidently so bad they don’t make it anymore. No other wine I’ve ever tried was even in their ballpark.
- Is there now or has there ever been a wintergreen cream cordial? I’ve kept an eye open for years for something that tastes like Canada mints and is the color of Pepto Bismol. Why? Because contrarian.