[This will be brief and sloppy, since I should be packing, not blogging. With luck, there will be an update later this month/year/decade, but don’t hold your breath.]

Today went like this:

5:00 a.m. Wake up a good four hours before my usual wakey-uppy time, because in order to get to the Marvin Hamlisch Memorial Choir rehearsal, I had to catch the 6:21 train.

7:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Rehearse for and sing at Marvin’s funeral. While it isn’t the subject of this post, highlights of the event were a) President Bill Clinton, b) John Updike’s Perfection Wasted, a sucker punch if there ever was one, and c) Terre Blair Hamlisch’s heartbreakingly stunning eulogy to her late husband.

12:45 – 2:30 p.m. Lunch at Serafina on 61st (a martini and a plate of paglia e fieno) with fellow singers Andy, Darcy, and the just-married Baninos. Disappointingly, although we were all dressed in black, no one asked “Who died?” Only in New York.

3:45 – 8:03 p.m. Procrastinate.

8:04 p.m. See Dr. Rubidium’s provocative and pithy tweet,

People, eggs are bad for you AGAIN.… … via @Jezebel #untiltheyrenot


“Your Breakfast Is Trying to Murder You: Eggs Are Almost as Bad for You as Cigarettes,” Jezebel crowed.

Well, I love me my eggs, and egg slander is up there with salt slander and sugar slander as a high crime against food. Eggs give Cheez-Its a run for the money as the perfect food, and this had to be wrong.

Here’s the hard-boiled truth. The latest research on eggs and heart disease is flawed. Eggs are not going to kill you.

Jezebel and other news outlets have jumped on Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque, a paper recently published in the journal Atherosclerosis, which claims that a person’s carotid plaque increases exponentially with their egg yolk consumption. (This paper is referred to below as EWKY, for Eggs Will Kill You.)

Most likely there is no exponential relationship at all. But if you believe the authors’ statistics, perhaps you will believe what I can prove by an identical analysis:

The length of objects, measured in centimeters, grows exponentially with length measured in inches.

Of course, this is ridiculous. The length of an object in centimeters is exactly 2.54 times its length in inches. The relationship is linear, not exponential. After you finish reading this post, I hope you’ll realize that the egg slander in Atherosclerosis is also ridiculous.

The “exponential” dependence of plaque on egg yolk consumption is an artifact of skewed data.

I created a data set with the same distribution as the EWKY data to investigate a hypothetical relationship between inches and centimeters, using the same flawed way the authors of EWKY analyzed the relationship between egg yolk consumption and plaque.

Briefly, the authors of EWKY treated “quintile”  as a scale variable, which it is not.

Here are the histograms of my data and the EWKY data. Pretty much the same.


And here are error bar charts of my data and the EWKY data. Both appear to show a clearly non-linear relationship.

The error bar chart from EWKY is the sole justification for the claim of an exponential cigarette-like relationship to plaque:


(My error bars are much shorter because the correlation between inches and centimeters is perfect. While the relationship between egg-yolk years and plaque is not, it’s nevertheless not exponential.)

There are other statistical gaffes in EWKY, but I don’t have time to delve into them. I’ll mention the worst very quickly.

First, most of the EWKY analysis compares lifetime egg yolk consumption to plaque. Lifetime anything consumption is a proxy for age, and atherosclerosis is strongly age-dependent. Nowhere do the authors of EWKY provide convincing evidence that the relationship between egg yolk consumption and plaque is anything but an artifact of the proxy for age.

Furthermore, the authors pay no heed to the always-important question of effect size. They provide a single analysis that shows a statistically significant relationship between the non-age-proxy measurement of egg yolk consumption per week (as opposed to over a lifetime) and plaque that’s independent of age:

Screen shot 2012-08-15 at 0.02.39

The difference in plaque area between the <2 eggs/week group and the 3 or more eggs group (an arbitrary split, and ignoring the several hundred subjects who ate from 2 to 2.99 eggs/week) is about 1/20 of a standard deviation, otherwise known as squat. The fact that p < 0.0001 after adjustment for age is irrelevant, because with such a large sample, significance might appear for an even smaller effect (micro-squat).

Gotta run, gotta pack. Thanks for listening.

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I’m not sure if I’ll eat all 4.7 parts, but this is my evening snack today, and I can do without any fat against the type.


One Response to “Sea Tongue Gulf One: Shut the Fat Fully”

  1. Victor Mair Says:

    Brooklyn / Joisey Chinglish

    “Shut the fat fully”

    chemical and nutrient terminology in Chinese

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1937: The budget which President Roosevelt submitted 60 days ago is already becoming obsolete.

1949: A Senate Commerce subcommittee said today the nation’s war-built merchant fleet already is becoming obsolete and “a replacement program of new ship construction may be in order.”

1949: The FCC chief devoted most of the address to the current public discussion over the possibility of television sets now in the hands of the public becoming obsolete in the event new video channels are opened in the so-called “ultrahigh frequencies.”

1958: The premier also pointed out that the Moose Jaw plant was fast becoming obsolete and that there was a possibility in the near future of nuclear power being more universally used.

1960: Old fashioned bomb-throwing assassins are becoming obsolete in an age where computing machines and electronic devices are essential tools of day-to-day existence.

1960: The giant Intercontinental ballistic missiles already may be well on the way to becoming obsolete.

1966: Is your front door becoming obsolete? Studies show that in suburban homes 90 per cent of the traffic is between the garage and a side or  a back door. [In “SURBURBAN BYPASS,” a column of potpourri that incidentally fails to mention spelling.]

1973: New letter sorting equipment being used by the Postal Service at Cincinnati is “becoming obsolete as it is being developed,” according to a report by a House subcommittee staff.

1975: The [Education Commission of the States], which conducts periodic student assessments for the U.S. Office of Education, said experts are suggesting that the written word is becoming obsolete as students lean more on the spoken word.

1984: Building in New Hanover County is becoming so concentrated that our present method of sewage disposal is rapidly becoming obsolete.

1985: Science buildings and laboratories at many universities are becoming obsolete, and their condition threatens to cripple important research in health, engineering and other fields in which the United States now leads, a University of Illinois official told a congressional panel Wednesday.

1986: Rotary-dial telephones are becoming obsolete.

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The Soda Police are getting noisier lately, but their concern for public health is a subterfuge. When it comes down to brass tacks (and I doubt brass’s slight lead content is going to kill you when used judiciously in plumbing, by the way), the S.P. don’t care most about the public health or about overweight kids at risk for diabetes and heart disease. They’re hell-bent on demonizing soda, especially soda made by Big Food and sold by the Big Chain Store and Restaurant Corporation.

Demon or not, it probably won’t hurt Americans to drink less soda on average than we do now. It will definitely help the environment if we drink less of anything that comes in individual single-use containers — even water — if there’s an environmentally friendly alternative already in place.

Here’s a simple two-part proposal to bring back running water.

BBRW Part 1. Require public water fountains everywhere.

Schools, parks, subway stations, airports, shopping centers, offices, stores, and more. We already require a lot of things, sensible and otherwise, so the means is in place. Require enough of them so no one has to wait in line. These water fountains (bubblers in Wisconsin and parts of New England) should have good water pressure, and they should be designed so they can fill up a bottle, too — or there should be some faucets for that. Simply making it possible to fill a personal water bottle in an airport — and yes, you can carry one through security so long as it’s empty — will reduce heart disease.

No flow restrictors, either; use spring-loaded knobs to conserve. (I’m not going to say a word about those infrared hand-wavy travesties.) Restrictors belong in kitchens and showers, if anywhere. It doesn’t need to take ten minutes to deliver half a cup of water. ADA compliant, but otherwise basic and solid. Call me nostalgic, but I like porcelain-coated cast iron.

Room-temperature, pure water is already available from every municipal water system. Only a little effort makes it ubiquitous. (If you’re afraid it will give you cancer, carry your own personal PET-free container full of home-purified water.)

BBRW Part 2. Require water to be available everywhere soda is available, for less.

If a restaurant offers a meal that includes soda, require it to offer the same meal with the same size tap water for less money. Less by at least half the restaurant’s own à la carte price for the included soda. Except during water emergencies, require restaurants to offer tap water when patrons are seated.


Stop the endless debates over soda vs. fruit juice, sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup, artificially-sweetened beverages vs. sugary ones, and aspartame vs. stevia extract. Bring back running water.

One Response to “Bring Back Running Water”

  1. Jenne Says:

    Right on, Dr. Kass! as a mommy (read: permanent entourage) of a 2 year old, I’m astonished how many public-funded places either don’t have water fountains, or have faulty ones. And getting a cup of water from a retail establishment often involves complicated gyrations, as the standard is selling you a bottle of water.
    Bring back the water fountain, and have a tap on it for cups/bottles! Yes!

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Sorry, you’ll have to go elsewhere for more of this.For your entertainment, a handful of the many hundreds of uncaught — one might say hairy — misspellings of public as pubic in the news over the last few weeks.


“Twenty-five environmental and pubic health groups asked Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to abandon the state’s new plan for eradicating agricultural pests and explore a less toxic approach, such as crop rotation or planting neighboring crops that deter insects.”
California’s new pesticide plan sparks protest, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2011.

“While he intellectualizes with the unbending intensity of an adolescent, his political sense is remarkably subtle. And he is not afraid to advocate positions most adults, even those sharing the same views, would be afraid to support in pubic.”
13-Year-Old Serb Activist Contends With Bullies and Death Threats, New York Times,
June 6, 2011.

China introduces pubic tenders to promote shale gas exploration (headline),
Xinhua English News, June 30, 2011.

“Jackson schools superintendent leaving: Jackson Pubic Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards talks to the media about his contract ending.” (photo caption) Contract expired, Edwards exits JPS, Clarion-Ledger, June 29, 2011.

“Beijing’s police do a remarkable job of silencing pubic displays of dissent, but occasionally the desperate find dramatic new ways of airing their grievances.” Aggrieved Chinese Face Swift Police Repression, Voice of America, July 2, 2011.

“A full 7,000 pages of The Pentagon Papers are now declassified and available for pubic viewing online.”
Evening News Online, 06.13.11, CBS News, June 13, 2011.

“The 28-year old actress surprised fans by coming out during a pubic service announcement for the Give a Damn gay rights campaign in April 2010 – four-months before she married ‘True Blood’ co-star Stephen Moyer in Malibu.”
Anna Paquin: No-one [sic] questions my sexuality, Starlounge, June 29, 2011.

“Today’s installment in people being booted off pubic transportation, this one involving saggy pants and the classic line, ‘My pants are up, sir.’”
Jet Passenger Booted Over Baggy Pants, Newser, June 18, 2011.

“The measure — which appears to be one vote away from passage if it gets to the floor — is not on the immediate agenda but could be discussed after talks on tax cap, New York City rent control and pubic college tuition increases.”
Key GOP Senators in Same-Sex Marriage Debate Meet Privately, WNYC, June 22, 2011.

“We have got to continue to elevate pubic expectation for public education in Madison County. We’re about to turn things over to the community."
Business execs seek community involvement in schools, Jackson Sun, June 18, 2011.

“The burly, silver-haired author and historian, wearing a snug suit-coat, called the prosecution’s original case against him ‘massive’ and ‘over-reaching,’ and a direct result of what he called a libelous 2004 report by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that ‘tainted the wells of pubic opinion.’”
Ex-media mogul Conrad Black ordered back to prison; wife faints, Chicago Sun-Times, June 24, 2011.

“An off-duty police officer who was working out at the facility observed the activity, said Paul McCurtain, pubic information officer for the St. Charles Police Department. Three male victims told police they were approached and inappropriately touched by Lawrence E. Adamcyzk of Rockford inside of the facility while they were either working out or playing basketball.”
Suspects caught while fleeing from Elgin home charged in burglary, The Courier-News, June 28, 2011.

Feldis, the chief criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage, declined to say what involvement the Pubic Integrity Section might still have.
Kott, Kohring get new trials, Anchorage Daily News, July 2, 2011.

Mitchel Ghiggia, 22, of 30 West Glen Ave., Port Chester, NY, was arrested Friday for two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and creating a pubic disturbance.
Arrests: First-Degree Threatening, Second-Degree Burglary, Stamford,
July 1, 2011.

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This, this, and this. Specifically, foolish nonsense from someone named Todd (Henderson).

The toddtipping point? Right after Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman suggests indirectly that the Drs. Henderson earn about $450,000 a year, which could subject them to $10,000/year in additional taxes under Obama’s proposal to postpone the upcoming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, but only on the first $250,000 of income.

Todd (who would prefer a bigger tax cut for 2011 than Obama’s legislation provides and who threatens to fire his $20/month legal Mexican gardener if he doesn’t get his way) scrumbles¹. Within a single paragraph, Todd refudiates refutes Krugman’s estimate of his salary (“not even close to our income on the high side”) yet sees no contradiction in describing the injury he and his wife would sustain from $10,000/year in additional taxes, which he just implied he won’t have to pay (because his salary is “not even close” to high enough to result in that increase).

Professor Henderson careens further out of control a paragraph later, when he inflates the fictive $10,000 figure by 20%, to $12,000.

All this from someone with degrees in both engineering and law, whose ability to explain (when it suits him, apparently) was recently rewarded with tenure as a professor. In light of the facts of his education, Todd’s behavior doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m calling it toddfoolery. Either something tragic has happened to Todd’s mind since he received his degrees and tenure, or he’s a disingenuous liar. At least those are the only explanations I can imagine.

Update (21 Sep 2010): Yesterday, Todd removed his tomfoolerific posts, along with readers’ comments to those posts,from Truth on the Market, where they had appeared. Todd explains.

Update (21 Sep 2010): Today, Todd “hung up his blogging hat”.

[Note: The links at the beginning of this post are no longer valid.]

Update (12 Nov 2011): An alternate spelling of Toddfoolery (Todfoolery) is now available here: Pity the 1%, and Their Tod(d)foolery.

¹ The verb scrumble will be coined in a future installment of “Word of the Day.”

3 Responses to “Word of the Day: Toddfoolery [updated (3)]”

  1. The rich man’s burden « Bad monkey, no biscuit Says:

    […] He REALLY failed, no seriously, he is so screwed up in his demonstrations that even a nobel prize-winning economist got in on the act of sticking it to him over his method of trying to show how unfair it is. It got so good Steve Kass labeled it toddfoolery. […]

  2. Gray Says:

    It’s shocking. That guy probably HAD to go into academia because he was a huge failure as a lawyer. Just look at his resume:

    “He then practiced appellate litigation at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., and was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Boston, where he specialized in counseling telecommunications and high-tech clients on business and regulatory strategy. His research interests include corporations, securities regulation, bankruptcy, law and economics, and intellectual property.”

    How can he possibly do all that in a competent way if he doesn’t even understand the basics of taxation? It’s impossible. Seems to me that guy is hugely overpaid for his meager mental abilities. To imagine that students have to learn something from this jerk, it’s mindbuggling.

  3. Richard Says:

    BTW, I retrieved the post from Google cache:

    Since these guys believe in self-responsibility and free speech (which I support as well), I think it’s only right that as many people as possible get to see how they think, since they have an enormous intellectual impact on one of our 2 main political parties. Words and ideas have consequences, and I’ve never seen any good from hiding them from the marketplace of ideas.

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It’s bad enough that Google News considers the Washington Times a news organization, but attributing the Times’s rubbish to George Washington?

I have my doubts about some of the other George Washington quotes Google News offers, too.

If the South Korean government can find a way to satisfy the letter of the law while channeling their economic activities away from Iranian institutions — non-Iranian banks, maybe in Dubai — that’s the first step.

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BabyCNN doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, given that they’re easily as irresponsible as their buddies at [expletive deleted]. Today they’re fanning the fires about “illegal immigration,” the current euphemism for people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Writer Arthur Brice devotes a big chunk of a 900-word article on today to a discussion of “anchor babies,” the current not-so-euphemism for babies of people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Here’s my brief rant on the article, “Report: 8 percent of U.S. newborns have undocumented parents.”

Before ranting, though, let me be one of the first to greet all these new and beautiful U.S. citizens: “¡Welcome, and bienvenidos!”

This rant has two parts. First, let’s see what “have undocumented parents” means, so we know more about this 8% on whom the goons will be spreading their invective. The phrase shouldn’t mean anything other than “have undocumented parents,” but somehow it does, and not just because of headlinic license. It means “has at least one undocumented parent.” Here’s the relevant wording (emphasis mine) from the Pew report Brice describes:

A child has unauthorized immigrant parents if either parent is unauthorized. A child has U.S.-born parents if all identified parents are U.S.-born.

Well, that’s stupid. The asymmetry reminds me of the definition of Colored, as in for the purpose of what school you can go to, what train car you can sit in, and what drinking fountain you can use, and, before the 14th amendment was ratified, as in whether you were a U.S. citizen, more or less.

Next thing you know, today’s goons who want to abridge the Fourteenth Amendment will find a way to damn not only these youngsters but sus hijos y nietos también, no matter what, probably because fuck the Constitution and Bill of Rights, God tells them to.

Not to mention that “[s]ome pregnant women from other countries are traveling to the United States to give birth and then taking their babies back home to raise them as terrorists that would return to attack America,” a concern raised by Texas state representative Debbie Riddle, “a Republican,” that Brice thought fit to pass on.

Tattooing the letter U on them to start, maybe? (You can bet they’d have no problem paying for that medical procedure with government dollars.)

Part 2: The word “anchor babies” doesn’t appear in the Pew report, but instead of leaving it out of the article entirely, Brice fills us in. He knows that more people will read an article if it’s about anchor babies.

“Babies born to illegal alien mothers within U.S. borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency,” says an organization called The American Resistance, which has described itself as “a coalition of immigration crime fighters opposing illegal and undocumented immigration.”

Minor partial credit to Brice for using the past tense when mentioning The American Resistance, but he forgot to mention that they are “no longer an active – or updated – Website or effort,” and haven’t been since 2006, according to — well, themselves, in a message they left on the web four years ago. The fact that Brice names them at all is goofy, to put it kindly. There are dozens of non-moribund organizations he could have called up. A Youtube link to a [expletive deleted] broadcast from within the last week, maybe.

That’s all. Have a nice week.

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I need to work on plenty of things, but today I was reminded of one in particular: impertinently pointing out mistakes (or worse, “mistakes”). Especially when I’m being a know-it-all, and especially when no lives are in danger. This afternoon, deep in know-it-all, no-lives-in-danger territory, I impertinently pointed out a “mistake.”

The reminder came a few hours later when I tripped over my own recent commission of the same “mistake” (blue arrow). Ouch.

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NoGas NoGas0

In January, 1985, Bob Moody and I visited Dick Slansky at Los Alamos National Laboratory to begin collaborating on what would eventually become a book. Driving back to the Albuquerque airport, we stopped to fill up at a NewMexigas service station. This is what I saw at the cashier’s window.

I lost it. Doubled over laughing, I stumbled back to the car, managed to grunt and point Bob towards the sign (he immediately lost it, too), and, thanks be to god, controlled the convulsions well enough to grab my camera and take a photo. [Click on the thumbnail for a larger uncropped version.]

This being the funniest thing ever, I jumped on the chance to share it later when I started posting stuff on the internet Bitnet. You can see the quote in my signature in this 1989 post to comp.dcom.telecom. (Also available in the TELECOM Digest & Archives.)

I used the quote in my signature off and on for some years, and in 1995, I contributed it to a web collection of funny signs. You can find that contribution here.

Unfortunately, an apparent misquoting of this sign (“We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container.”) now appears in many places on the web. The misquoting makes no sense to me as a funny thing, and I’ve seen no photo to back it up.

Here’s for setting the record straight.

2 Responses to “No gas will be sold to anyone in a glass container.”

  1. Mike Says:

    Your signature on that Usenet message totally doesn’t work in a variable-width font.

  2. Steve Kass Says:

    I know, I know. It looked fine in 1989 on my VT100, and the future of typography never occurred to me. Earlier today I wasted a good five minutes trying to find a link to my old post that would display right. If you know how to game Google Groups to behave, let me know.

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