Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chances

"I think the most important thing I took away from all that time with my nose in happiness research and behavioral econ is that we overestimate the value of what we already have and so underestimate the upside of taking a chance, leaving something behind, and making a big change. Most of us end up where we are through a sort of drift. Sometimes that works out splendidly. And drift hasn’t not worked out for me. I really like what I do. But, alas, I don’t really love it."

That's Will Wilkinson, who's entering an MFA program in creative writing.

The excellence of Cliff Lee & Matt Cain

Cliff Lee and Matt Cain produced a rare gem of a showdown Wednesday night, resulting in a combined game score of 171. Doesn't quite rank with the highest of all time, but it's in the top ten in the last 15 years.
 
Fangraphs caught this too, writing: "Before 2010, MLB hadn’t seen a game where both starters went 9 IP with 0 R allowed since September of 2003, when the Tigers and Blue Jays locked up in a battle between Nate Cornejo and, once again, Roy Halladay. Halladay was awesome, throwing 10 scoreless innings on just 99 pitches and getting 21 ground ball outs in the process. Cornejo was somewhat less awesome, as he gave up five hits and walked a couple of batters while racking up two strikeouts. While any nine inning shutout is impressive in its own way, Cornejo’s doesn’t stack up to what either Cain or Lee did last night."

One other note about Cain's performance is that his Wednesday night outing follows his 9 inning 11 K, 0 BB, 1 hit shutout for a game score of 96 in his previous start. Combined, these surpass back-to-back efforts by Lincecum, Halladay, Lee and others dating back several years. I wasn't comprehensive but it took some searching to find a pitcher whose output could compare. In 1999, for example, Pedro pitched back-to-back games of 90 and 98, wherein he threw an 8 inning, 15 k, 3 BB, 2 H start (90) followed by a 9 inning 17 K, 1 H, 0 BB start (98).

In any event, Lee was stellar, and Matt Cain has pitched phenomenally and consistently well of late.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"the whole point of technology"

That’s the whole point of technology: achieving more with less. It’s also part of the promise of technology: freeing people from annoying social structures that they wish they could opt out of, anyway. But there’s a problem: 30-year treasuries and defined-benefit pension plans don’t pay out in terms of hours of enjoyment or numbers of yoga classes—they pay out in dollar terms. A heavily indebted country doesn’t have the freedom to allow deflationary forces without facing some serious consequences. Interestingly enough, these consequences are somewhat balanced: older people tend to spend far more money on the Internet, and they tend to get far more of their income from fixed income sources, whatever those might be. So this web-based deflation will transfer money to older, wealthier savers—who will promptly transfer some of it right back to web companies. Whether that is an unstable equilibrium or a self-balancing one depends mostly on whether or not web companies will hire more people.


That's Byrne Holbert at Digital Due Diligence.

"The Human Lake"

Here's a fantastic article by Carl Zimmer that I came across a few weeks ago in Ed Yong's list of best science writing from 2011:
The microbes in your body at this moment outnumber your cells by ten to one. And they come in a huge diversity of species—somewhere in the thousands, although no one has a precise count yet. By some estimates there are twenty million microbial genes in your body: about a thousand times more than the 20,000 protein-coding genes in the human genome. So the Human Genome Project was, at best, a nice start. If we really want to understand all the genes in the human body, we have a long way to go.

Seriously, read the whole article.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Great surf video

Canon 5D Mark II Slow Motion + Jaws ( Peahi ) 12-7-09 from iamkalaniprince on Vimeo.



This is one of the better short surf videos I've seen. Somehow it surpasses the Laird Hamilton big wave video.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Neat video

7D 2000 fps from Oton Bačar on Vimeo.



Be sure to check out this video as well, also by Bačar.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Malick's Tree of Life

Here's the trailer to Terrence Malick's forthcoming "Tree of Life," due in theaters in May:


Here's the film's wikipedia page, and its IMDB page.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cheese helps prevent tooth decay?

I was just flipping through the index of Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" when I noticed a section on cheese and tooth decay. McGee writes:
Tooth Decay Finally, it has been recognized for decades that eating cheese slows tooth decay, which is caused by acid secretion from relatives of yogurt bacterium (especially Streptococcus mutans) that adhere to the teeth. Just why is still not entirely clear, but it appears that eaten at the end of a meal, when streptococcal acid production is on the rise, calcium and phosphate from the cheese diffuse into the bacterial colonies and blunt the acid rise.
OK, so that's super interesting, and not something that I've ever heard about cheese (heard it about apples, though I've always been skeptical of that claim because they're mostly made of sugar). Michael Pollan and others have focused on the underlying health benefits of long-practiced culinary traditions, so perhaps this outcome might help explain why cheese is sometimes served after dinner.

But then elsewhere in the section, McGee cautions that cheese is:
"abundant [in] saturated fat and therefore tends to raise blood cholesterol levels. However, France and Greece lead the world in per capita cheese consumption... yet they're remarkable among Western countries for their relatively low rates of heart disease, probably thanks to their high consumption of heart-protective vegetables, fruits, and wine."
Emphasis is mine. Is his causal arrow pointed in the right direction? When it comes to human health, it's always hard to say, but I wonder if the low rates of heart disease are not in spite of the cheese, but because of it (at least in part).

Stephen Guyenet recently suggested that pastured dairy products may be good for the heart, possibly because of high concentrations of K2, CLA, vitamin A, or even certain kinds of saturated fats. Guyenet doesn't mention bacteria, but if it's good for dental health, as McGee documents, might it contribute to gut or heart health as well? (See Seth Roberts's "umami hypothesis" posts for more thoughts on good bacteria and health).

Here are entries by Guyenet that touch on cheese consumption. He notes in one of the posts:
Contrary to popular belief, full-fat dairy, including milk, butter and cheese, has never been convincingly linked to cardiovascular disease. In fact, it has rather consistently been linked to a lower risk, particularly for stroke.
So there's that--the comments on his blog, including his own, are always worth reading.

I'm not a nutritionist, but Guyenet is probably the best writer on the subject that I've encountered. He might also be a good example of an "insider/outsider."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alcohol and heart attacks

So does red wine decrease the risk of having a heart attack? Yes, just as effectively as malt liquor. It's not the antioxidants and resveratrol, it's the ethanol. The reason the French avoid heart attacks is not because of some fancy compound in their wine that protects them from a high saturated fat intake. It's because they have preserved their diet traditions to a greater degree than most industrialized nations.
That's Stephen at his excellent blog.