28 March 2017

Divertimento #124

For less than $20 you can buy a fiberoptic endoscope that attaches to your smart phone and potentially check yourself for polyps in the nose, larynx, and maybe elsewhere.

A review of 13 cases of ocular injury caused by bottle corks.  "Most of them are due to sparkling white wine served at room temperature."

"Recently, research has come out strongly in support of dietary fat and cholesterol as benign, rather than harmful, additions to person's diet. Saturated fat seems poised for a similar pardon."

An extended argument that using a bidet is more sanitary than using toilet paper.

Gut-wrenching photos of plastic pollution entering the ocean.  About 6000 tons per day from India alone.

Trump things:  He was not, as he has said, first in his class at Wharton; he wasn't even on the Dean's list.  A Tweet from 2013 oddly relevant to the recent health-care legislation fiasco.  A list of the companies to boycott if you're protesting the Trump presidency.  This truck driver really doesn't like Donald Trump.  Donald Trump's father was arrested after a Klan riot in 1927.   And lyrics from a Woody Guthrie song about "old man Trump."  Clever title of a picture of Merkel and Trump sitting for an awkward photo-op.  And an even better one.

Video of an eagle trained by the Dutch National Police taking down a drone.

"Climate of Concern, a 1991 educational film produced by Shell, warned that the company’s own product could lead to extreme weather, floods, famines, and climate refugees, and noted that the reality of climate change was "endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists."" (full-length video embedded at the link).

Fossil hominid skulls found in China have both human and Neanderthal characteristics.

During an 18-month period in 1969-70, 370 bombs were set off in New York City.

A longread about the invasion of the Great Lakes by zebra mussels.

"A teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris."  That is fantastic news.

An interactive map of thermal hot springs in the United States.  An interesting distribution.

Showerthought:  Chocolate is a flavour of milk, and milk is a flavour of chocolate.

"I swear to God, the sight of people with deadly diseases crowdfunding their health care is the most dystopian thing about America right now."

Speculation that Jane Austen was poisoned by arsenic.

A petition to remove health-care subsidies for members of Congress and their families has now gathered over 800,000 votes.

A longread about the events that will follow the death of Queen Elizabeth.

TIL that shrimp can be raised on farms in landlocked states.

Attempts are underway to recover "billions of pounds worth of British gold hidden in the wrecks of merchant ships sunk during the First and Second World Wars."

Pinhole cameras are being embedded in streetside ATMs to steal financial information.

Today's blue mineral embeds are (top to bottom) aquamarine and albite, chrysocolla, fluorite, barite, and pentagonite.


  1. I have never used a bidet. What do you with your wet behind after you have finished bideting it? and what about your pants and underwear - what do you do with them and how do you keep them dry? As a non-bidet-er, it seems that a good wipe with dry TP, followed by a couple of "wet wipes" would be just as good? And save water, too?

    1. I just read this http://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Bidet wikiHow to Use a Bidet. THAT is complicated, and messy, and some what unhygenic? Everyone uses the same towel to dry themselves? Clean yourself manually?

  2. Just posted a comment which got eaten by the system. Could be overzealous filter. If so you might be able to recover it.

    1. Not in my spam filter. You might ask the NSA.

    2. Well, to summarise, I let you know that the tonic.vice.com links seem to be inaccessible outside of the U.S., and I also segued from the various Twitter links to say that I've often felt you run your blog the way many people run their Twitter stream. I elaborated a little on both points.

    3. So far this year, posts in this blog has been viewed by readers in about 175 countries, and as far as I know I have no control over which content is blocked or viewable anywhere. What I have suggested to others in the past is to Google the keywords in the link, and one can often find mirrored content in an unblocked site.

      Re the Twitter, I have no account and don't view Twitter posts unless they are reposted elsewhere, so I don't know how people run them. I'll take your word re the similarities, whatever they may be.

    4. No, you don't have any control over which content is geoblocked, but the only reason for pointing it out is to be helpful to you, the blogger. If I linked to a geoblocked page on my blog, I would want to be informed.

      The resemblance I see between your blog and a Twitter stream is mainly due to its emphasis on external links with appended comments, and is reinforced by the high posting frequency and frequent use of strong visual hooks. All of this gives it a rather Twitteresque feel, in my opinion.

  3. Far be it from me to defend Trump or anything, but the "a family member did something nasty" line of reasoning always strikes me as a bit unfair.

    1. I'm with you on that. "Let's punish the family of the person we don't like" what is the expected gain from this? Do we expect Donald to resign, or is it just the satisfaction of hurting other people that is it's own reward?

    2. I hate Trump, but that is a very reasonable point. Thanks for keeping things reasonable!

  4. People kill me with their diet assumptions, including medical professionals (who normally are marginally trained in nutrition).

    Too much fat in your body does not automatically mean avoid fat in your food. High cholesterol in your blood does not mean automatically avoid cholesterol in your food. High blood pressure? Avoid salt, you know, since that temporarily increases your blood pressure. This is roughly based on the very out-dated humors medical thinking... Let me add another one, to make it clear - Gummy, yellow gunk in your ears? Avoid gummy, yellow foods like scrambled eggs... No basis for any of these assumptions!

    Another poor nutrition example: Low or no fat milk. The fat in the milk buffers the sugars. Take out the fat and your blood sugar spikes quicker, leading to the higher production of insulin. INSULIN is what signals your fat cells to start increasing in size. No fat milk makes you fat! Taking out the fat had the exact OPPOSITE effect!

    1. To add to this, hormones are fat soluble, so if you completely eliminate fats - the results can be not good.

    2. I'm not sure what your point is, Dinepo. Hormones are endogenously produced and not normally a component of the diet. The lipid solubility is what allows them to be transported from the bloodstream across membranes to an intracellular site.

      Are you suggesting that dietary fat affects the absorption of exogenous hormones (are vegetarians at risk for inadequate levels of birth control hormones) ????

    3. Can't answer your vegetarian question, not sure about that.

      I was referring to the body's naturally produced hormones that have to travel through the entire body. Without enough fats, the body's transport system is not well funded, so to speak.

      Bottom line, no-fat diets are no-good.


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