Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Twitter has gone absolutely off its rocker since Parkland, and now it’s just haters hating anyone who disagrees with them. (No, that’s not new; it’s just never been this bad.) I stumbled across a site called Kialo, which is a kind of digital debate club, in which issues are proposed and then discussed in a sane and (hurray!) non-emotional manner. I myself certainly don’t need another time-sink, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of anyone who enjoys (increasingly rare) reasoned debate.
  • Another interesting approach to political social media is Ricochet, a center-right bloggish system with paid membership required to comment. (You can read it without joining.) No Russian bots, or in fact bots of any kind, and a startling courtesy prevails in the comments. Its Editor in Chief is Jon Gabriel, who used to work for us at Coriolis twenty years ago. Not expensive, and the quality of the posts is remarkable.
  • FreePascal actually has an exponentiation operator: ** That was what FORTRAN (my first language) used, and I’ve never understood why Pascal didn’t have an operator for exponentiation. Better late than never.
  • This article doesn’t quite gel in some respects, but it’s as good an attempt as I’ve seen to explain why Xerox never really made much money on the startling computer concepts it originated back in the crazy years of the ’70s. I worked there at the time, and top-down management was responsible for a lot of it, as well as top management that wasn’t computer literate and thought of everything simply as products to be sold.
  • Japanese scientists found that treating the hair follicles of bald mice with dimethylpolysiloxane grew new hair. Dimethylpolysiloxane is used to keep McDonalds’ deep fryers from boiling over, and given that Mickey D’s fries are one of my favorite guilty pleasures, I suspect I’ve ingested a fair bit of the unprounceable stuff. No hair yet, though I keep looking in the mirror.
  • German scientists, lacking a reliable supply of bald mice, have discovered a species of bacteria that not only enjoys living in solutions of heavy metal compounds, but actually poops gold nuggets. How about one that poops ytterbium? I still don’t have any ytterbium.
  • Eat more protein and lift more weights if you’re a guy over 40. Carbs are no food for old men.
  • Evidence continues to accumulate connecting sugar consumption to Alzheimer’s. Keep that blood sugar down, gang. I want to be able to BS with you all well into my 90s. Try cheese as snacks. It’s as addictive as crack(ers.)
  • If in fact you like cheese on crack(ers), definitely look around for St. Agur double-cream blue cheese. 60% butterfat. Yum cubed. A little goes a long way, which is good, because it keeps you from eating too many crack(ers.)
  • And don’t fret the fat. The Lancet has published a study following 135,000 people, and the findings indicate that there is no connection between dietary fat and heart disease. Ancel Keys was a fraud. Ancel Keys was the worst fraud in the history of medical science. How many times do we have to say it?
  • 37,132 words down on Dreamhealer. It’s now my longest unfinished novel since college. (It just passed Old Catholics, which may or may not ever be finished.) Target for completion is 70,000 words by May 1. We’ll see.
  • On March 17th, it will be 60 years since Vanguard 1 made Earth orbit as our 2nd artificial satellite. Probably because it’s so small (a 6″ sphere, not counting antennae) it is now the satellite that’s been in orbit the longest, including those the Russians launched. The early Sputniks & Explorers have all burned up in the atmosphere.
  • I never knew that the parish church of my youth was Mid-Century Modern, but squinting a little I would say, Well, ok. Here’s a nice short visual tour of the church where I was an altar boy and confirmed and learned to sing “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.” It hasn’t aged as well as some churches (note the rusty sign) but some of the art remains startling. I met Carol in the basement of that church in 1969, and will always recall it fondly for that reason alone.
  • Ever hear of Transnistria? Neither had I. It’s a strip of Moldova that would like to be its own country, (and has been trying since 1924) but just can’t get the rest of the world to agree. It has its own currency, standing army, and half a million citizens. (I’ll bet it has its own postage stamps, though why I didn’t notice them when I was 11 is unclear.)
  • A guy spent most of a year gluing together a highly flammable model of a musk melon (or a green Death Star, if you will) from wooden matches, and then lit it off. He even drew a computer model, which needed more memory to render than his system had. Despite the bankrupt politics, we live in a wonderful era!


  1. great unknown says:

    The problem with dimethylpolysiloxane is that ingesting it is ineffective; the follicles have to be treated topically. I suggest asking for permission to dip your scalp into a McDonald’s deep fryer before it has a chance to cool off. I guarantee that your dome will no longer be smooth.

    [Yes, I know that’s disgusting, and that if you had been your father you would come after me with a vat of hot oil. Sorry, sort of].

  2. Carrington Dixon says:

    Don’t eat the fries; rub them on your head. You’ll certainly get stares if you do it in the restaurant!

  3. Bob says:

    Jeff writes:”The Lancet has published a study following 135,000 people, and the findings indicate that there is no connection between dietary fat and heart disease.”

    That paper is not relevant to most of your readers. The intro says they used data from “The Prospective
    Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study provides a
    unique opportunity to study the impact of diet on total
    mortality and cardiovascular disease in diverse settings,
    such as those where overnutrition is common and
    where undernutrition is of greater concern.”

    So unless your readers come from places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe the data probably are not relevant to them. A high fat diet in those countries is nothing like a high fat diet in say Scottsdale, AZ.

    p.s. one of the countries studied is labeled as “occupied Palestinian territory.” LOL I think in far left Brit-speak that is another way of saying Israel.

  4. Rich Rostrom says:

    “Transnistria” is an outlaw state, propped up by Russian troops. During the dissolution of the USSR, the ethnic Russia population in the area seized control, with the aid of Soviet Russian troops and various paramilitaries (Cossacks and such, equipped with arms from Soviet arsenals in the area).

    And when you were 11, “Transnistria” was part of the Moldavian SSR, within the Soviet Union.

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