Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Solar cycle 24 is crashing, and we’re still three years from Solar minimum. 24 really does look to be the weakest cycle in 100 years or more.
  • And if you don’t think the Sun influences Earth’s climate, read this, about the Sun’s indirect effects on climate and why they make climate so hard to predict.
  • I doubt the payback would be more than the cost of the equipment and the electricity, but you can mine bitcoin with a Raspberry Pi–or better yet, a whole farm of them. (Run them from a solar panel?)
  • Speaking of the RPi: I burned a new NOOBS micro-SD last week, and used it to install the latest stock Raspbian. What I discovered is that this latest release has a terrible time detecting any monitor that isn’t straight HDMI. I’ve been using the RPi with older 4:3 DVI monitors through an adapter cable ever since I got my first board, and the board had no trouble figuring out the size of the raster. I’ve screwed around with the config file with only partial success; even telling the board precisely what mode your monitor speaks (1600 X 1200, 75 Hz) doesn’t guarantee correct video.
  • When I was much younger I wanted a PDP-8. And then a PDP-11, which I almost got because Heathkit actually made a hobbyist PDP-11 desktop. I settled for an S-100 8080, because there was actually software for it. I recently stumbled on a hobbyist PDP-8 system based on Intersil’s IM6120 chip. It’s not hardware you can buy; you download the PCB design and the software, get somebody to make the board (not hard these days) and then stuff it yourself. Runs FOCAL-69 and OS/8. Paleocomputing at its best!
  • From the It’s-Dead-But-the-Corpse-Is-Still-Twitching Department: Aetna is pulling out of the Obamcare exchanges entirely next year, citing $200M in losses.
  • You won’t believe where Earth’s atmospheric xenon comes from! (Actually, you will…but you have to say that these days because clicks.)
  • Excellent long-form piece on why we should fear an ideologically uniform elite. From the article: “If you really want to live in a world without tyranny, spend less time trying to show others why you are right and more time trying to show yourself why you are wrong.” Bingo. Because no matter what you think, you are always wrong. About everything. Nothing is simple. Nobody has the whole story. Ambiguity is everywhere. Certainty is poison.
  • How many times do we have to say this? Eat fat to lose weight.
  • We could use more research here (can’t we always?) but it’s certainly possible: Eating more salt may help you lose weight. Could be; I determined by experiment that salt doesn’t affect my blood pressure, so it couldn’t hurt to try.
  • A correlation has been found between consuming lowfat or nonfat dairy products and Parkinson’s disease. No such correlation is seen with full-fat dairy products. My guess: Your brain is mostly made of fat, and people who eat low-fat dairy tend to eat low-fat everything. So this is yet another reason to go low-carb high fat, even if you don’t need to lose weight. Fat is a necessary nutrient!
  • After decades of difficult research, scholars have finally decoded the lyrics to the “O Fortuna” movement of Carmina Burana. And…they aren’t in medieval Latin at all. (Thanks to Sarah Hoyt for the link.)


  1. IcyHot says:

    Oh, the irony.

    The item in which you make the clickbait joke has no link.

    Perhaps this?

    1. Fixed. As always, I’ll leave your comment here to remind myself that I screwed up.

      And I’ll hand you a bonus article on xenon:

      Xenon evidently comes and goes…quietly.

  2. Rich Shealer says:

    Hard to click on the click bait without a link. 🙂

    1. Yup. Sorry about that. Fixed now.

  3. Tom Roderick says:

    For many years one of my favorite and often confusing expressions to many people has been, “I am not always wrong, but I am never far from it.” I think the link to the piece on the danger of being too certain of anything explains that better than I ever could. I am an old retired engineer from back in the days of slide rules and the one thing a slide rule taught us back then was that, in engineering, EVERYTHING is just an approximation and that nothing is 100% certain.

  4. TRX says:

    > Aetna pulling out

    …and yet they were one of the largest backers of Obamacare, with their eyes lighting up in dollar signs at the thought of all that free Federal money.

    “If we can induce the government to make our service mandatory, $PROFIT!”

    Looks like that didn’t work out, somehow… I guess they didn’t buy enough legislation.

  5. Rich Rostrom says:

    After decades of difficult research, scholars have finally decoded the lyrics to the “O Fortuna” movement of Carmina Burana. And…they aren’t in medieval Latin at all.

    The link is to a recording of “O Fortuna”, with a one-sentence caption stating that the poem is in medieval Latin.

    So where is the news?

    44 years ago, I found a book in the University of Illinois library that was a translation of Carmina Burana. (By a remarkably obtuse Victorian scholar, whose preface lamented the absence in the Carmina of praise for marriage and respectability.)

    There was a translation of “O Fortuna”, IIRC.

    1. Keith says:

      Follow that link again and look at the captions in the video. I think you will get the point then.

  6. Mary Ladd says:

    As the whole of the Bitcoin method is decentralised, each transaction is publically viewable within what is referred to as the blockchain. This blockchain consists of each and every bitcoin exchanged between users so, as there is no central server, it has to be self governed. This is the job of the miners. The username section is composed of two parts, the username that you use to login to the pool, and worker which is the worker name you gave when you registered the worker. Finally, the password that was set when you developed the worker.

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