QuickReaction, Wednesday-1

Now this is doing something! Yesterday I ridiculed both the idea of an entrepreneur in China selling cans of “mountain air” and the reporter saying this was proof the market does something. Rubbish! But here is something that is doing something, a simple piece of technology to solve a major problem – a new kind of cookstove (biofueled) that both reduces smoke (and thus air pollution, esp. to the people in immediate vicinity) and sequesters carbon in such a way as to improve agricultural yields. In addition typically less fuel is required thus preserving some amount of biomass. A really simple thing, even using some recycled materials, but with a big impact. It was shocking to me to learn that cookstove smoke is the single largest environmental hazard (even worse than China’s smog, a little hard to believe, but OTOH, it may be the widespread use of inefficient cookstoves). So kudos to the people who are contributing a small thing with a potentially huge impact.

Wall Street loves the new fat iPad: Naturally they love it, it’s their kinda thing. A non-new new product that is merely an excuse to raise profit margins. So the erosion Apple is facing in sales (now that the boom is over) gets made up with higher prices – the classic American monopoly business model.

If courts don’t throw Lindsay Lohan in jail, no wonder they don’t do anything about guns. How many more warnings will she get? How many more times will she flaunt the courts in her drug and alcohol induced frivolity? Frankly I’ve heard a lifetime’s worth of LL news, but sooner or later some court needs to actually do something, not just create more media exposure for her.

Remind me not to go to a nutritionist’s Super Bowl party: Here’s more of the stupid nutrition advice (not all, just most of it). Rah, rah, whole grains (oh good, inert “ash” (as it’s known in the flour trade) mixed in with white flour to conceal the evil flour). Dips made from inedible beans and served with tasteless vegis. I’m sure these will be a big hit. The only smart thing – ditch the booze. No doubt we need to control ourselves snacking at the Super Bowl (claim is we average 1200 cals watching it, just snacking) but probably half that is the alcohol. So I’d say make some tasty food that goes well with non-alcoholic beverages. And about half of this is stupid too, the same old, unscientific (often the equivalent of old-wives tales) unproven techniques to get a bunch of woo (no wonder people who follow these things fail). Eat less, exercise more – simple.

Need a Facebook diet? Actually this is a decent article with some useful advice, but the more I thought about my whole thread of the “Impact of the Wired World” the less there there I thought there once. A lot of this is very brief fad which will blow away with the next big thing. Facebook may be a temporary “addiction”, but I’ll predict it is also largely self-correcting. It’s a fad and people get tired of fads and move on. I’m not saying Facebook will disappear (in fact the steady change in its demographics to older women may be a clue to the steady-state after the kids get bored with it). But social media is general is mostly over-hyped, something one usually sees orchestrated about the time of IPOs. So just as dotcom.boom became dotcom.bust each of these things will settle down (dotcom.bust hardly meant the Net is dead, Amazon just set records in its profit margins, but most the of 90s froth is now gone, as will happen to most of the social media). Actually the HuffPo article was just plugging this book.

I bet this commenter loves the command line too. Get a clue, Blackberry is dead! Nothing RIM does will matter. Attempts to appeal to the touchphone crowd will fail. Sticking with the installed base of thumbing fans will fail. Don’t worry about which v10 phone RIM does first, all will be a big yawn.

The Chinese rate MIT #1: I previously blogged that MIT, surprisingly, had be ranked as the best university (emphasis, ‘university’, not just tech school). Now the Chinese, who from my first-hand experience hold education in high regard rated MIT #1 engineering school (thankfully ahead of Stanford) in the world. I’d sure like to go there – oh wait, I did.

Antisense is a drug therapy, not a Repug’s brain: With the approval of this antisense drug (a compound that is the “opposite” of some section of DNA (or maybe RNA which is the new future for this, the article doesn’t say) so that the transcription or translation process is impeded) supposedly we’re entering the era of antisense. This has been proclaimed before and has always failed (lots of reasons). I had an acquaintance here who tried for years to get a blockbuster antisense drug through trials and they never made it. As much as I like the genomic approach to biology and medicine, one has to admit it has had disappointing results.

Huge and expensive supercomputer to mimic human brain? Not sure what to think about this since there is certainly a lot of brainpower involved in it, but I have this nagging feeling it will be like other of the large AI projects that burn through a lot of money and provide work for a bunch of PhDs but produce little else. OTOH, good stuff always comes out of projects like this, even if it’s not the expected part, so it’s sad to see this is yet another project the U.S. is not doing and another where perhaps Europe is able to take away our lead in an area of science.

Farmers win with climate change: With climate change likely to create more droughts this means that farmers, esp. corn farmers, just get more crop insurance money. If it gets bad enough they can sit around all year and produce nothing and still get the same money. My friend from California is right, the corn belt is the welfare empire of the U.S. (and that’s already, it will get worse). So the point is that farmers have no incentive to see any attempt to halt climate change esp. with the strongest tool which is carbon tax. So they team up with the Repugs to stop any progress while keeping their noses in the public trough. Of course they’d say they’re makers, not takers, but that just shows their lack of basic math skills.

Seven obesity myths shattered: And so supposedly a real journal article claims but this popular press reporting of that article doesn’t tell much (other than the seven myths being shattered, at least five of which I could have told you were wrong). Supposedly this is the source: n Wednesday’s online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, so let’s see if I can find this. Here it is, but of course it’s hidden behind a paywall (single article purchase for $15 which is absurd). A longer popular press account is here and interestingly appears to contradict the first link I provided (in some details). And yet another source with details missing in the other two, plus the interesting quote, “Press reports and scientific writing on dieting, weight gain, and obesity are burdened by false or unproven claims, a literature review found.” (What have I been saying in all my rants, now vindicated). And a few more details here.



About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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