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Sunday links

News avoidance lurches right along. Mix of nooz and think pieces today.

  • New software (so far W*nd*ws only) aims to help activists detect and foil government surveillance. Get it here. Can’t say how effective it’s going to be, but it’s endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, and other big-timers in the field. (H/T MJR)
  • Along the same lines, Let’s Encrypt aims to bring SSL/TSL to the masses by taking the difficulties and mysteries out of those pesky web site certificates. (Remember: Encryption is subversive! Or so our masters claim. Which is, of course, all the more reason to do it.)
  • What if age is nothing but a mindset? (Tip o’ hat to ML)
  • If you were talented enough to play in the NFL, would you quit to become a farmer? Jason Brown did.
  • Holleee freakin’ cr*p! The shooter who did this was lucky he didn’t (in the famous words of Ralphie’s mother) “put his eye out.” His (or her) eye. Or face. Or hands. Or parts of the guys standing next to him at the range. Just looking at that photo is mind boggling.
  • Which dietary supplement claims are backed by evidence and which aren’t? Interesting chart. But also not the be-all and end-all of truth. Much is still unknown.
  • 10 instinctive decisions you will regret forever.
  • It’s astonishing and discouraging how a cheesy, corrupt, lying, hustler can be considered “respectable.” And speaking of cheesy, corrupt, lying, downright embarrassing hustlers who nevertheless keep landing on their feet: Marion Berry, RIP.


  1. LarryA
    LarryA November 23, 2014 12:37 pm

    Read somewhere that the main problem with firing another cartridge after a squib load (primer fires, powder doesn’t ignite, bullet doesn’t clear muzzle) isn’t the bullet blocking the barrel, but the remaining powder trapped between the bullets. It ignites with no place to go, adding to the already stressed situation, rupturing the barrel.

    These were apparently cartridges without powder. Still a hairy situation.

  2. Pat
    Pat November 24, 2014 2:04 am

    I have reservations about the mental process being able to help some physical problems.
    Some diseases may be too far gone to help before intervention takes place.

    OTOH, I’ve seen patients get well (or at least get better) by being given good news, by resolving issues that worried them, or by improved relationships. I do know that “you’re only as old as you feel”, and in addition, our metabolic and hormonal levels can fluctuate significantly with our feeling of good will and energy output, which in turn can improve or exacerbate illness.

    So Langer’s further studies will be interesting to watch.

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 24, 2014 6:11 am

    Two problems with the supplement chart. Pretty much the same problem with most western medicine. The human body is an integrated entity, not several thousand unconnected parts. Most western medicine tends to treat each part as a separate thing and ignore most connections. Human bodies are not built like that, and nutrition is a far more complex thing than can be arrived at this way. Everything humans do, think, feel, and ingest are part of that complex matrix and interact endlessly.

    Second is that no two humans respond to foods, drugs, or anything else exactly the same. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. The idea that anything like exact information about the affect of something on all, or even most, humans can be found in the usual government testing protocols is unbelievable – especially in isolation from everything else. The idea that these “norms” or even safety can be determined by using rodents is ludicrous, except perhaps as a first pass to eliminate outright poisons.

    The problem with poisons or non nutritive components in supplements is a different question and easily solved by some independent testing protocol such as the UL for electric appliances.

    Whole, unadulterated foods offer the most likely and safest source for nutrition, since these foods have been in continuous use for many thousands of years. The vitamins, minerals and other complex chemical structures are obviously intended to work together and may, or may not be particularly good for us in concentrations or in isolation from everything else. Just for an example… ordinary salt contains both sodium and chlorine. Either of those elements swallowed alone, in more than a microscopic dose, would be very harmful or even deadly. Yet unadulterated salt is one of the most essential nutrients, despite concentrated efforts by government to demonize it. The bleached and often contaminated stuff sold in grocery stores is the real problem.

    I have been involved with medical “research,” and don’t trust much of it at all. The most common thing, in my experience, is that a desired conclusion is decided on first, then the “study” is designed around that to “prove it.” During the “study,” much or all of the data collected that does not “prove” the desired conclusion is either eliminated, hidden or falsified. They lie… a lot.

    As for the aging thing, again we run into the problem of trying to separate out individual components, when it is a matter of the whole being. It seems obvious that we can’t simply “think” at it and have an established cancer vanish. But.. spontaneous remission does happen, and some cancers do vanish. We just don’t know how that works…

    In my work as a nurse, I’ve known people in their 80s and 90s, some even older, who had the bright, driving will to live and got impressive things done. I’ve known people in their teens to middle age who were old before their time, defeated and bitter. And almost everything in between. Attitude, rational cognition and a whole lot of plain old fashioned LUCK plays a part in it. We just don’t know how it works.

    And yes, I’ll be very interested to see where Langer takes this.

  4. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 25, 2014 11:44 am

    On that story about Jason Brown, I thought he was going to get some homeless out there on that farm, helping him produce potatoes. But no, he’s just giving potatoes. Somehow I am less impressed than I might have been. Oh well, at least it is private welfare rather than government welfare. That’s something…

  5. Steve
    Steve November 25, 2014 9:47 pm

    Just wondering, in light of Obama, Holder, Pelosi, Reid, Sharpton, Reverend JJ, ad nauseum, whether you think we’re past the awkward stage yet.

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