Sep 17, 2014

nas

Interesting. I've suspected something was up with artificial sweeteners. This is mice so take everything with a grain of salt. But gut bacteria should behave similarly in animals.

Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

Sep 16, 2014

u2 and the currency of outrage.

I am still seeing people complaining about this Apple U2 thing. Because free stuff is an imposition on our privacy. We've been violated. I'm a victim. We like getting outraged don't we? You can tell by the lede's on most 'buzz' journalism now.  And certainly by the comments sections or much of the Twitter landscape.

"You won't believe what this mother did to her daughter?"

We just have to click on that article and zoom right to the comment section without reading it and attack something. The article, the writer, the website, the mother, or the daughter. Or someone unrelated like the guy who makes $4,565 per week from his home.

When did we get so angry? And when did get to the point that begin angry and outraged was a goal? That we got satisfaction from that?

Because either I'm getting old and drifting from the cultural zeitgeist of today. Or people really are just getting up in the morning to complain about something and say they hate something and to make sure that person on the internet who said something wrong is corrected and hopefully beaten senseless.

This can't be good for people's psyche. Is this a pendulum that swings back at some point?

CK Louis famously touched on this in his Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy piece.



What is strange about this though is that it seems like it's the younger generations that are going to be the ones yelling at me to get off their lawns. Most of the social networks are filled with this kind of thing. Twitter and Reddit make it almost their business model. And the only source of 'uplifting' stories is basically cute pictures of animals which in and of itself really tells a story of heightened misanthropy. Screw humans. Give me a cute fluffy thing.

We do a bit of hiring at our company. I generally make the last call on hiring. We had just talked to this woman who looked great on paper. She was maybe late 20s or so. She had talked to most of the people on the team and they reported back favorably. She went to Stanford, went to school in Beijing, spoke English and Chinese, was on the volleyball team, and had worked at some high-end start-ups. And yet she was a disaster. I had given her a project to do. I rarely interview people because that basically means you end up hiring people who are particularly talented at being interviewed. It wasn't a hard project. It took her a month to get back to me. No updates. No nothing. She just sent it a month later.

And her response to me telling her immediately that a non-hiring decision had already been made was outrage. I was a little taken aback. She spilled out some excuses. I should have given her a deadline. Why didn't I contact her to see how she was doing? She had a job and had a wedding to attend to. And I simply did get baited into a conversation. But she wouldn't take no for an answer. We should hire her apparently. I was wrong and I needed to be corrected. And I saw the same sort of attitude that I see online. We haven't hired any 20 year olds to date. I'm not entirely sure we ever will.

Sep 11, 2014

WOW

Frankly a remarkable pair of graphs. I don't entirely believe it. It's compiled from OKCupid data.

Sep 9, 2014

wealth redistribution

Just playing Devil's advocate. If all wealth was redistributed in the U.S. what would it look like.

Total estimated wealth in the U.S. ~ $17.5 trillion.
Population ~ 300m.

Average payout - $58k.

So in a family of four if your net worth is over $200k (e.g., you own a house) you are going to be losing wealth on redistribution.

Worldwide it's even worse.

Worldwide wealth is estimated at $241 trillion. Divide by 7 billion and you get $35k.

Sep 4, 2014

yet another low carb diet research paper

I have about 20 people send me this news. This one made a bit of a splash because the NY Times picked up on it.

As usual I've read the original research report. The study is quite good.
  • 148 men and women (60 in low fat and 59 in low carb completed the full test)
  • Randomized clinical study
  • Parallel trial
  • The low-carb diet was indeed low carb (<40g/d)
  • The low-fat diet was indeed low fat (<30%/d, <7%/d saturated)
  • Measurements taken at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months
Results:
  • Low carbers had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change -3.5kg)
  • Low carbers had greater decreases in fat mass (mean difference in change -1.5%)
  • Low carbers had greater decreases in triglycerides (mean difference in change -0.16 mmol/L)
  • Low carbers had greater increases in HDL (mean difference in change 0.18 mmol/L
Problem:
  • Who cares about HDL? No one that knows what they are talking about.
  • We know all this. What they didn't do is measure ApoB
  • Where are we on the effects of resistant starch?
  • Where are we on the effects of exogenous ketones?
  • Where are we on the effects of glycemic index and loads with respect to carb heavy foods? Do we really know the differences between pure sugars, complex carbohydrates, and resistant starch?
  • Where are we on genetic and racial factors (aka why are Asians so fucked when it comes to carbs)?

Aug 28, 2014

mobility

I've been looking for this kind of data for a long time. This guy does a great job of helping to visualize it.

The real issue isn't distribution of wealth but the mobility you have among the the wealth distribution. Are there things you can do to move up the ladder or not. This doesn't really answer the question because it's all based on correlation but it's interesting nonetheless.

Basically it shows things we already know. Being black puts you at a disadvantage. Not having married parents puts you at a disadvantage.

The first thing I'm struck by is that while the presenter takes a dire view of the situation I was actually surprised at how mobile we are. It's not perfect but it's a lot better than I would have guessed.

I'm also surprised by the implications of this in the mirror view. Namely, since people have a decent amount of mobility from the bottom to the top, this implies that people at the top have a lot of mobility down. This is surprising. Because if you own a lot of assets then those assets can work for you (investment). The lower you go down on the ladder the less that option is available to you to the point where it works against you (debt). In fact that's part of why I had a previously dire view of the mobility measurement. Rich people in general have more means to remain rich and that should create friction.

The other thing that is strange but I'd have to look at the data is that whites have essentially frictionless mobility (pure random distribution). And blacks have frictionful mobility (high distribution on lower quintiles). This leaves the question who is picking up the slack? Do Hispanics or Asians have higher than average mobility? I don't know. But it's interesting.

interesting space facts

  • Pluto, if cut in half, would fit face down on North America
  • The sun comprises 99.85% of all matter in the Solar System. Jupiter is about another 0.1. The rest comes in at 0.05%
  • The approximate average density of the universe is 1 atom per cubic meter
  • If you could arrange them in this way, all the remaining planets would just fit between the the Earth and the Moon
  • There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on earth. There are more atoms in your fingernail than stars in the universe
  • When you are in orbit you increase your orbital velocity by slowing down
  • If you had a pipe that was as long as the radius of the known universe and the thickness was equal to that of a uranium nucleus, the pipe would hold about 13 liters.
  • Normal matter (baryonic) makes up about 5% of the known universe. We're not really sure what makes up the rest of it.
  • Light (photons) created in the center of the sun takes about 4,000 years to make it's way out of the sun due to collisions with particles 

Aug 20, 2014

modern jackass redux

If you have kids, this is making the rounds,

57 percent of americans say only kids who win should get trophies

This is such a great illustration of Modern Jackass.

This is a topic that generates such authoritarian responses it's ridiculous. Everyone has a strong opinion on this. And yet does anyone actually know if it matters? I haven't got a clue. I actually suspect it doesn't matter if you give a trophy or not to the kid in any place in a competition. I just don't think it matters at all.

I remember the soccer team I was on came in 2nd place two years in a row. I think they gave us 2nd place trophies. I couldn't have cared less. We came in 2nd. I didn't want to come in 2nd. The trophy was irrelevant. But maybe it mattered to other people on the team. I don't know.

So why are we so sure about so many things we know nothing about. Why are our own personal anecdotes such persuasive evidence to us regarding very complicated things that must apply to everyone else? And why do we always have strong opinions about things being good or bad versus being irrelevant. People aren't generally hyperbolic about things being unrelated. Things are always very good or very bad.

Like bacon and nitrites. "Oh I won't eat any bacon because it has nitrites." You get stuff like that a lot in LA. "Oh yea what research report did you read to come to that conclusion?" That's how the conversation essentially ends every time.

I sometimes have fun at other's expenses with this. The great example I have is selenium. You eat too much selenium and you'll die. Totally toxic. There's no debate about this. I'll bring this up. "Oh yea it's used in computer chip processing, glass processing, rubber, metal alloys, etc. IT'S EVERYWHERE." Then I'll talk about brazil nuts because brazil nuts have an insane mount of selenium in them. If you ate 3.5 ounces of brazil nuts you'd have ingested about 5 times the recommended upper limit of selenium. They can be dangerous and can invoke bouts of vomiting and toxicity effects. Holy shit no one is eating Brazil nuts again. I'm always tempted to let the conversation end there. Just let everyone go off and be Modern Jackasses.

But here's the thing. No selenium and you die. It's an essential nutrient. Like most things a little is good, none is bad, and a lot is bad. Brazil nuts are the example of something that's kind of in the middle. We aren't good at processing those kinds of things. At all.

restaurants these days

I thought this fake menu from Eater was pretty spot on.


Aug 14, 2014

institutions

Merely posting this because I'm constantly searching for it. It keeps coming up.
 "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." - The Shirky Principle."
And Upton Sinclair's version
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"