Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Here’s a nice detailed article about how Linux treats hard disks and how Linux partitioning works.
  • We now have two major sunspots on the visible face of the Sun. I don’t remember the last time I saw that. (Most of the specks we’ve been giving sunspot numbers to in the last couple of years don’t count, in my book.)
  • The New York Times has finally shone their light on an ebook marketing technique that Baen Books pioneered years ago. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Version 4.0 of the FastStone Image Viewer is out, and well-worth having. It’s the best image browser I’ve ever used, and if you have to sort an SD card full of digital photos and cull marginal shots quickly, there’s nothing like it. Make sure you get the portable version; it lacks nothing and doesn’t make any changes to your system. Freeware. Highly recommended.
  • Rich Rostrom sent a pointer to a fascinating article on Moscow’s stray dogs. They’re going feral, but it’s a peculiar sort of urban feral that considers humans and all their gadgetry to be just another part of the landscape. They’ve learned how to ride the subway, for pete’s sake!
  • I’d read in a number of places that faces judged as beautiful are generally “average” faces, without a lot of distinguishing characteristics. Because I could never quite get a grip on what an “average” face would be, I always took the notion with a grain of salt. But this site, assuming it really is creating a “facial average” from a gallery of headshots, suggests that there’s something to it. Start with two faces, then add faces one by one, and see if the average face doesn’t become more beautiful (and distinctly ambisexual) as you go. It did for me.
  • Here’s a short interview with Bob Silverberg, describing his writing life during the Golden Age of Pulps. A million words a year…
  • Cracking ice in the surface of a frozen lake sounds like a blaster battle.
  • From the That-Certainly-Has-To-Count-For-Something Department: Behold the world’s largest disco ball.


  1. I think there’s a great big cheat going on in that facial research program. If you look closely at the generated face, it’s completely symmetrical. It’s an established fact that symmetrical faces are more attractive (though less real seeming). Our eyes are evolved to select for better bilateral symmetry as a sign of good health.


  2. Darrin Chandler says:

    Another take on facial beauty is that attractive faces are “low complexity” faces. See for some interesting work by J├╝rgen Schmidhuber from 1998 that caught my interest at the time.

  3. Carrington Dixon says:

    I should have said that Silverbob began his career during the Silver Age of pulps. (Apt timing that). I think the Golden Age of pulps was about a decade earlier, the 1940s into the early 1950s.

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