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Odd Lots

  • Yes, I changed my mind and signed up for Twitter, after pondering somebody else using my name and creating a Fake Jeff Duntemann. (Thanks to Bob Fergert for prompting me to imagine the unimaginable–and I’m a good imaginer.) More on this a little later. I have yet to post anything due to lots of top-priority projects here, but I’ll get to it within the week.
  • Dietary saturated fat is not related to plasma fatty acids. In other words, it doesn’t matter how much saturated fat you eat; your blood levels of fatty acids are controlled by other factors. What other factors? Care to guess? Are you reading this on Contrapositive Diary? Is the Pope from Argentina? Is the atomic weight of ytterbium 173.04? It’s the carbs. Wow. Whodathunkit? (Thanks to Jonathan O’Neal, who was the first of several to put me on the scent.)
  • There is actually a prize for the worst sex scene in literary fiction. It is not a coveted award, and I guess is seen as a sort of booby prize among literary writers. The WSJ recently posted a brief guide on how to avoid writing such scenes. (I avoid writing really bad sex scenes by not writing sex scenes at all. Works amazingly well.)
  • Two people in my circles who don’t know one another have independently recommended Ting as a cell carrier. First impression: Sounds too good to be true, and sheesh, they were created by Tucows. (That said, Tucows is no longer what most of us grayhairs remember it being.) Any other opinions? Getting new phones and a new carrier is my next big tech research project.
  • I’d also like to hear some early impressions of Lollipop, if anybody’s got it or is about to get it.
  • Here’s something you don’t see every day; in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen it even once, ever: A square flat-panel monitor, with a 1920 X 1920 resolution. Assuming these survive their launch (not a sure thing by any means) I’d be sorely tempted. As the story says, “Enough of the ultra wideness already.”
  • I wasn’t sure whether good technical books could be created as reflowable ebooks, but Yury Magda is doing it. He has five self-published Arduino-related titles now, and what I can see in the samples looks damned good. I’m going to buy a couple, less for the Arduino content as for how he does the layout. (Thanks to Jim Strickland for putting me on to this.)
  • Gizmodo/Sploid has a very nice short item on the XB-70 Valkyrie, certainly the most beautiful and possibly the second-scariest military aircraft ever built. Do watch the video of how the second prototype crashed–and if you’re ever within striking distance of Dayton, don’t miss the other Valkyrie at the Air Force museum there. (Thanks to Bruce Baker for the link.)
  • Barðarbunga is emitting over twice as much sufur dioxide every day as all of Europe’s smokestacks put together, and the volcano is still hard at it. SO2 is well-known to be a powerful cooling factor in the atmosphere. Combine that with a quiet Sun, and nobody really knows what might happen.
  • Best video illustration of how tumbler locks work that I’ve ever seen.
  • For that special, short, hairy, ironic someone in your life: You can get a genuine Flying Nun-inspired Weta-made Bofur winter hat, shipped all the way from New Zealand. Not cheap and not sure if it’ll arrive before Christmas, but if this winter keeps going like it’s going, you’ll be all set to face dragons, ice ages, or both.


  1. Mike Weasner says:

    Welcome to Twitter Jeff! Now following you (I hope it is you and not a fake you…).

  2. Bob Fegert says:

    Some guy made a comment on that Eizo site about that 1920×1920 monitor.

    “But you can’t rotate it”


  3. Brian Tkatch says:

    If that saturated fat study proves anything, it’s that if you eat carbohydrates, lay off the saturated fats, and vice versa.

    The study itself is flawed in many aspects:

    1) It deals with overweight people. (So, they already have more fat.)
    2) The daily caloric intake itself is excessive.
    3) It does not give us any other indicators such as cholesterol level.
    4) It is a small number of people.

    I saw the study yesterday and almost brought it to your attention. But, after reading the writeup, i felt it didn’t deserve any attention.

    1. It’s not a strong study. However, it’s not alone in coming to those conclusions. We have plenty of other, better research indicating that carbs make you fat and give you heart disease, not dietary fat. I’ve heard from about 20 people who have tried low-carbing (“banting” as it was called in the 19th century; none of this is new) and lost significant weight–which stayed lost. There may be outliers, but they’re outnumbered. For most of humanity, I’d say the evidence is pretty damned strong. There is lots of variability across human populations, so it won’t work for everybody. This is why I did a multipart entry on doing the experiment on yourself and seeing how it works:

  4. zeph says:

    I’ve signed up for TracFone. This is probably only going to be useful if you consider a phone as a barbaric ancient device whose sole purpose today is to be a camera and a calculator, and possibly a web browser. The cost is minimal but so is the time allotted.

    1920×1920… look, I’d love to abandon the flat/wide screens, they’re usually far too short. 1920 is too short. Give me 4096×4096 and we’ve got something to talk about.

    1. Lee Hart says:

      Same here. I got a $10 TracFone years ago after seeing that George Ewing’s worked at the GT Berserker in the north woods of MI’s UP when no one else’s cellphone did.

      I’ve still got it. Just a basic phone for calls and texting; no camera, web browser, etc. I’ve never found a place where it doesn’t get service, and the battery last a week or more. No contract; I just buy minutes once a year for about $100, and usually don’t call enough to use them up.

  5. Jason B. says:

    “Booby prize”………. pun intended?

    Re: low carb, do you follow Tom Naughton (creator of the “Fat Head” documentary)? He seems to be a particularly good aggregator of what people in the low-carb community, and others sympathetic to low-carb (e.g. the paleo and gluten-free camps), are saying.

    1. Yes, I look in on him from time to time, and I reviewed Fat Head years ago, here:

      Tom Naughton does what Gary Taubes and other authors can’t really do: Provide a visual overview of the field so people can get their bearings before plunging into a stack of 500-page books. Many people have asked me to do video lectures with animated illustrations of things like walking a tree or building a linked list, but I don’t think I have that gene. I do, however, recognize the usefulness of that approach.

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