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Odd Lots


  1. TRX says:

    > red meat

    And, at least for me, salt.

    I have ten months of twice-a-day blood pressure checks; a two-month baseline with normal salt use, six months with no added salt, two months since I began using salt again.

    No change. I’m willing to accept that it might affect blood pressure on some people, but my data says it doesn’t do anything to mine.

    > cold weather

    There’s no place on Earth hot enough to kill an unprotected human. But most of the land area gets cold enough to do it.

    Note that all the rest of the primate species stay pretty close to the equator; fur vs. warm clothing, fire, and fabricated shelters, and technology wins again…

    1. Keith says:

      No place hot enough to kill? Seems to me that I have heard numerous stories of people dying in various hot deserts around the world. Just in the American southwest, I hear occasional news reports of folks who tried to walk across the border from Mexico into California or Arizona being found dead in the desert. Folks walking in the open, not being smuggled in closed trucks.

      So I’d say there are at least a few places where the heat will kill an unprotected human. Why do you feel those cases don’t count? I believe you are right that there are a lot more places where the cold will kill.

      1. TRX says:

        Their problem was lack of water, not heat.

        1. Keith says:

          That seems like a distinction without a difference.

          1. Carrington Dixon says:

            Perhaps, the original comment was over stated. However, all the great deserts of the world have an indigenous people. Antarctica does not. Draw whatever conclusions you will from those data.

          2. Rich Rostrom says:

            There are deserts that are completely uninhabited: the Rub al Khali (“Empty Quarter”) of Saudi Arabia, for instance. The rest of Saudi Arabia is desert, and thinly populated. This part is empty even by their standards.

            Also, IIRC, the “Skeleton Coast” of Namibia.

    2. Tom says:

      I have read that BP salt sensitivity is mostly, if not completely, genetic. If you have the gene, salt raises BP, if not it doesn’t. I went though an experiment similar to yours to see for myself. I was unable to detect any difference either. Same for when the doctor suspected I was lactose intolerant. I do have a weird issue, however, with scrambled eggs with cheese. I like them but they gives me acute gastric distress. I can eat things like French Toast and Quiche, however, without problem. Another example of how everyone is NOT the same!

      1. Keith says:

        I recall some articles that report that about a quarter of Americans show little connection between salt intake and blood pressure, at least over a generous range of salt intake. The data they had showed that there was a genetic component, but there were other factors involved. A gene test apparently would not be enough to tell whether a given person was affected or not. One of the articles mentioned a urine test that was able to tell, but I have not heard of that test becoming commonly available.

        I recall one of the articles said that a person’s sensitivity to salt could change over time, depending on medical history and maybe other things.

        We aren’t there yet, but we are slowly moving toward an era in which the one size fits all approach to many things medical will be left behind, and we will each get medical advice tailored to our specific biochemistry at the point in time we ask for advice.

      2. TRX says:

        Some of my ancestors didn’t have the genes for breaking down lactose, and I don’t, either.

        It’s interesting how much haute cuisine might have been edible had poison not been poured over it before it was served…

        It’s not *that* rare, yet we’re supposed to “deal with it”, while society goes whirligig about protecting some microscopic percentage from the evil peanut. WTF?

      3. Mithral says:

        I am severely lactose intolerant, to the point even a minor amount of milk product will blow me up like a balloon … and provide other uncomfortable consequences. Curiously, raw milk does NOT produce the same effect, nor cheese made from raw milk. Raw milk is not the evil the dairy industry has led us to believe, but it’s still difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in most states. (Before you ask, yes I’ve also tried the A2 milk, and could barely tell a difference between it and regular homogenized.)

        As to salt and blood pressure, no discernible effect here as well, although I believe I may have a sodium sensitivity. I switched to French sea salt, which has a great many more minerals than our refined, iodized, mostly tasteless standard product. Try it; you won’t believe the flavor it adds to anything you use it on.

        1. Rich Rostrom says:

          I don’t know of anyone who says raw milk is bad; the problem is that it is risky. Contaminated raw milk can kill you.

          That’s why pasteurization was invented.

  2. Bob says:

    Fine print caveats of study:

    1. the evaluation of blood pressure and cholesterol are not the sole determinants for someone to develop heart disease.

    2. The length of time these experiments were done ranged from a few weeks to a few months as opposed to the years or decades that it could take people to develop cardiovascular disease or have a cardiovascular event.

    3. Comparable research is needed to assess other health risk factors from clinical trials, including inflammation and blood glucose control.

    The last point is pretty important since red meat is mostly grilled and the chemicals created in searing may lead to increased inflammation.

  3. EdwardH says:

    This is somewhat off-topic, but someone gave me a raspberry pi 2 kit at Christmas and asked me to teach their son how computers work. He is very very bright, a young middle schooler, and has tremendous powers of concentration.

    I have until Easter break to figure something out.

    I was thinking of something with robotics, perhaps an almanac based solar tracker, but the high price of servos has kind of soured me on that idea.

    Do you or your readers have a suggestion on how to approach this? I am a technical guy myself, but don’t want to be too overbearing or make the subject too intimidating.

    1. Anything robotics-related is going to be expensive. Maybe just give him some programming lessons. Lazarus/FreePascal runs very well on the RPi 2, and it has a visual GUI builder with no equal except for Delphi, which costs $1000+. Take a look:

      Also, my RPi computer architecture book is out, and I wrote all the intro chapters. Here’s the Amazon URL:

      The whole point of the book is to explain how computers work. It’s only $25.

      Good luck with it!

      1. EdwardH says:


        It’s a pretty impressive looking setup, I’ll take a look. Not the Pascal I vaguely remember from many years ago…

  4. Rich Rostrom says:

    “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.”

    If it ever does… It has even been used as a marketing trope – for meat. Vide the Heart Attack Grill, purveyor of the Quadruple Bypass hamburger.

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