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Odd Lots

  • I get asked several times a year: “What are your politics?” Tough question, given that I think that politics is filth. But now Jon Gabriel has answered the question for me: I do not join teams. I create my own. I’ve been doing this all my life. I’m not going to stop now.
  • Side note on Jon Gabriel: He used to work at Coriolis back in the day. So although I’ve been seeing him online for years, I never realized until very recently that he was our Jon Gabriel. (There is another who does diet books.)
  • Twitter is experimenting with doubling the size of tweets to 280 characters. I wonder if Gab had any least little bit to do with that?
  • Cirsova Magazine posted a short excerpt of something called the Denham Tracts from 1895 on Twitter, with a longish list of British supernatural beings, among which are “hobbits.” You can see the whole fascinating book on the Internet Archive. It was published by the Folk-Lore Society and it’s exactly that: Short notes on British folklore, including local saints, odd little ceremonies, song lyrics, and supernatural creatures I’ve never heard of, like the dudmen, wirrikows, gallytrots, miffies, and loads more. (The list starts on page 77.) Great fun!
  • At last, it looks like a popular treatment of sleep science is coming to us. Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep will be released on October 3. This long-form piece provides some background. Walker is willing to say what I’ve been saying for decades: Do not short your sleep. Bad things will happen, including cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s and who knows what else. Unlike me, Walker is an expert on the subject, so maybe you’ll believe him.
  • Lack of sleep can kill you. So, evidently, can low-fat diets, according a Canadian study of 135,000 adults in 18 countries, published by The Lancet. Note the reactions of NHS physicians, who aren’t convinced. (In their defense I will say that the Mayo Clinic is still pushing a low-fat diet in their newsletters.)
  • Here’s a long, rambling, but worthwhile discussion of how the fake science of fat demonization came about, and how, faced with the spectre of being shown to be wrong about something (impossible!) governments are doubling down on the fake anti-fat message. Government actions cause harm because we can’t throw the responsible parties in a cell and leave them there. The King, after all, can do no wrong.
  • Via Esther Schindler: The history of email.
  • I’d prefer that it be in Pascal, but so it goes: There is a Javascript code baby onesie. My grand-niece Molly is now a month old. Decisions, decisions…
  • In his will, philosopher Jeremy Bentham specified that he was to be mummified, dressed in his ordinary clothes, and put on display. So it was written. So it was done.


  1. Larry Nelson says:

    I’ve come up with a description of my politics that I’m comfortable in sharing, even on the internet.

    My economics are conservative.
    My general politics are middle of the road.
    My theology is liberal.
    Every April 15th I think long and hard about being a libertarian.

    Since most issues are a mix of economics, politics and theology, my ideas are a brilliant, bubble free synthesis (without a bit of hubris). Best of all, you actually need to sit down and have a thoughtful conversation with me if you are interested in my views on any particular issue.

    1. Yes. This is why I wish you lived closer than you do.

  2. Jeff R. says:

    “dudmen, wirrikows, gallytrots, miffies, …”

    I did not check out the folklore book mentioned, but offhand, I’d say those sound like varieties of filthy political types, or their media allies.
    “Dudmen,” in particular … and lest I be blasted for sexist bias, let me equitably postulate equally vile “dudwomen.”

    I could say more, but I am shorting my sleep at this very moment.

  3. Orvan Taurus says:

    Well, one the Gab founders sure seems to think Twitter has been copying/adopting things after they do it. I’m not sure, but…. could be.

    I recall when Firefox got praises for introducing tabbed browsing. This amused me as I’d been using that for years with Tetzchner’s Opera (I use Vivaldi now, no surprise). Innovation… or realization?

    1. TRX says:

      I’m pretty sure Konqueror had tabbed browsing before Opera did. I do know Konqueror had it for *years* before Firefox and IE reinvented and did their PR happy dances.

      Konqueror has occasional problems with bad HTML, which generally means “sites with browser-dependent code” (shades of 1995!) and has always had an uneasy relationship with Javascript, which, though it may not be strictly the developers’ fault, is an ongoing hassle.

      I’m too hooked on Konqueror’s speed and feature set to go back to Fireflop or Chrome, even though sometimes I want to set fire to the developers’ underwear…

      1. Orvan Taurus says:

        Opera released the year before Konqueror did. I think it had tabbed browsing right off, but I could be wrong after all these years. I registered it (back when that was how they did it) as it let me turn .gif animation off – when it was being horribly abused.

  4. TRX says:

    Schindler seems to define “email” as “modern SMTP mail and its precursors.” MULTICS had email back in 1965, and it may not have been the first.

    There was also some limited messaging between unrelated systems, but things were a lot different back when many machines didn’t even speak ASCII, much less have serial hardware that could talk to a modem. And when “the internet” first came about, it was pretty much limited to Unix and workalike systems for many years.

  5. Bruce C. Baker says:

    “Bentham’s horrifying mummified head is still preserved nearby.”:

    He actually looks pretty good, at least compared to some of the Egyptian mummies. Still, you may not want to visit the page on a full stomach.

  6. Amy Bowersox says:

    The Svaha site is like the women’s and children’s clothing section that ThinkGeek should have, but doesn’t. (And, in fact, the founders are both ThinkGeek alumni!)

    For instance, I need this Java fit-and-flare dress.

    And their dresses have POCKETS!!! 🙂

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