Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • This exploit isn’t new, but may be the most devilish thing I’ve seen in a couple of years: Using the Unicode “right-to-left override” character in a filename to make a .exe file look like a .pdf, a .jpg, .txt, or anything else. Double-click on that PDF, and you’ll get pwned…because it isn’t a PDF.
  • Working 16-hour days and sleeping a couple of hours under your desk may contribute to the high percentage of failures among startups. Basically, people who short on sleep think dumb thoughts and chase dumb ideas. They seem to wear their wilfull sleeplessness like a badge of honor, even as it kills their startups. Or themselves.
  • Note the near-obligatory Ekirch reference in the above article. I’ve still not found much evidence for his theory of “divided sleep” outside of his own book, but the guy gets citations all over the place.
  • This article on food myths is less interesting than the comments, which generally confirm my conclusion (having seen lots of similar comment sections) that nobody really knows what healthy eating is. (Thanks to Roy Harvey for the link.)
  • My own advice runs like this, with no apologies whatsoever to Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. And sometimes plants.
  • Much activity in this realm recently. Bruce Baker sends this link from the New York Times . Comments section very similar. The whole field, in fact, is a virtual food fight. Proving you’re right by insulting your opponents is very in right now, especially on Facebook.
  • Neil Rest sends a link suggesting that exposure to bright light in the morning lowers BMI. Now, I think BMI itself is bogus–the metric doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle, sheesh!–but if morning sunlight does indeed goose metabolism, getting out in the sun is a good thing. We should be cautious here: It’s been established that losing sleep does promote weight gain, and it’s mostly night people who lose sleep.
  • Name brand diet soda sales are in free-fall. I think that this is less about health and more about cost: People are probably reacting to price hikes from Big Soda over the past couple of years by moving to house brands from Wal-Mart and the major grocery chains.
  • House brands are a fascinating business, and there’s very little out there on how this titanic but virtually invisible industry operates. Who makes the Cheerios that aren’t Cheerios?
  • Is the Internet taking away religious faith? Hardly. What it’s doing is providing secular religions (like political ideology) to satisfy the tribal hunger of the 50% whose disaffiliation from organized religion can’t be explained in other ways. Tribal ideology is cheap (no churches or clergy to support) and once you’ve given yourself permission to hate others who differ from you, it provides the perfect excuse.


  1. Mike Weasner says:

    Regarding the comment about morning light and BMI, there is a lot of evidence that Light Pollution negatively affects human health, as well as the environment, wildlife, and plays a role in climate change. The AMA has already reported that Light Pollution is one factor in the cause of breast cancer and childhood obesity. It not only wastes energy and money, Light Pollution is bad for you. More info at

  2. Bob Fegert says:

    Whenever I get a pdf or some other file types I drop then on a hex editor to look at the first few bytes. You can tell right away if it is an executable.

    I use the freeware Frhed hex editor, it’s simple and just works.

  3. Stickmaker says:

    There was a study of the diet of wild chimpanzees a few years ago which revealed something interesting. They deliberately select plant parts high in vitamin C. Adults typically get 700 – 800 micrograms per day.

    Scaling that up to adult human size, you come surprisingly close to the one gram per day many sources recommend for people.

  4. Paul says:

    I’ve read articles in the last few years of studies correlating diseases like ALS and Parkinsons to sleep deprivation. My own Dad used to brag about his ability to live on six hours a night, and he developed ALS at the age of 67.

    Regarding cognitive ability and sleep, I don’t even try anymore, or at least seriously, to tackle anything if I’m having issues with it when it’s late. Too many times I’ve come back to a “difficult” problem in the morning to have the answer looking right at me.

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