July Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • Stoner dude got kicked out of our Christian abstainer hostel for eating our food and waddling around baked out of his noggin. And we found half of the bikini.
  • A good thing about never having been in particularly great physical shape is that you don’t really notice becoming middle-aged.
  • Stoner dude refers to excavation team’s black metal bass player Mats as “the Rasta guy with the camo pants”, achieves instant immortality.
  • It took the addition of Pokémon to make geocaching a majority concern, 16 years after the fact.
  • Oh for fuck’s sake, Swedish Peace & Arbitration Society. You’ve got a membership database. And you’ve got a database of steady donors. But you send paper mail to the entire membership list asking for donations, and write “If you’re a steady donor, please ignore this letter”.
  • I like magpies. So close to still being velociraptors.
  • The antibiotic cream for my damaged eye goes down the tear canal to my throat and up into my mouth every time I hawk up phlegm. Tastes really bad but shows that you can sample food by sticking it into your eye.
  • I’d like to find a medal with my medal detector.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

39 thoughts on “July Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Magpies and other flying birds make do with toothless beaks because they are lightweight. But flighless birds should get help -through genetic modification- to regain raptor teeth. It would make nature much more interesting.

    Post-modernism? “Trump Lies About Picking Cleveland for RNC” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2016/07/21/trump-lies-about-picking-cleveland-for-rnc/

    Also, some mutoids think ISIS will use Pokemon to help terrorism, but I will not bother to link to their “aguments”.

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  2. black metal bass player Mats

    Ambiguous syntax alert: is black metal his preferred genre, or does he have recent sub-Saharan African ancestry? I infer that he was born in Sweden, regardless of where his parents came from.

    As for the stoner dude who was kicked out: Was he the guy who was playing loud bass at 2 AM? And was he the same guy who called Mats “the Rasta guy with the camo pants”?

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  3. “Ambiguous syntax alert: is black metal his preferred genre, or does he have recent sub-Saharan African ancestry?”

    One of my pet peeves. (The other are sentences where “only” is in the wrong place, resulting in a meaning different from the intended one, e.g. “They saw only 5 people” (and no more) as opposed to “They only saw 5 people” (and didn’t hear, taste, smell, or feel them). When I read about high energy physicists, I wonder what they have been smoking, and admire the humility of elementary particle physicists, even though some have a Nobel prize.

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  4. John, I found the top half.

    Erik, Mats is white and we have only had the questionable pleasure of sharing our corridor with one stoner dude.

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  5. LMAO. Was that deliberate?

    What would be wrong with “…we have had the questionable pleasure of sharing our corridor with only one stoner dude”? Mind you, the original version was not ambiguous, so it doesn’t really matter.

    Birger@2 – Emus and cassowaries (especially cassowaries) are already interesting enough, thank you very much. As my wife commented once when an emu sprinted past her, crapping as it went: “Thanks (sic) God they can’t fly.”

    But this is really interesting:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/humans-and-wild-birds-talk-to-each-other-to-find-honey/7650038

    And this is seriously depressing – what kind of moron (or homicidal maniac) shoots someone who is lying on his back on the ground with his arms in the air, his hands obviously empty, saying “Please don’t shoot me”?
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/police-in-florida-shoot-black-man-lying-on-ground/7650836

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  6. Birger@3 – the use of grad students and postdocs as virtual slave labour, crunching through endless lab tests for low pay and lack of any job security long term, with no recognition and very little chance of being lucky enough to get a tenured academic job, is part of the reason a lot of good scientists opt out of a career as a research scientist. I don’t blame them in the least – looking forward to a career as a poorly paid, insecure lab monkey endlessly cranking the handle to churn out meaningless numbers, while working under potentially hazardous conditions and hoping that cranking the handle obediently and correctly enough will score you an offer of a further short term employment contract, is definitely uninspiring.

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  7. Tai Chi is a clever thing.

    The style I am learning comprises 108 separate complex movements (they are counted as 88 movements, for Taoist superstitious jiggery-pokery-voodoo reasons, but if you actually count them, there are 108) moving in all different directions, and the whole set takes 20 minutes to perform. But if you perform the whole thing correctly, you end up standing on the precise spot, and facing in the same direction, that you started from.

    I would love someone to trace out a plan view of it – the rosette of movements around the starting/finishing position would be interesting to me. I can’t believe that someone hasn’t done this already; I just have to find it.

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  8. Do magpies in Sweden attack humans during mating season?

    The Western Magpie in Western Australia is a real hazard. They are fairly large birds with sharp beaks, and if any human strays near to a nest during mating/egg laying/egg hatching season, one of the magpies will swoop down on the intruder and either give him a painful peck on the head or, much worse, will try to peck one of his/her eyes out. Many a child has lost an eye to attacking magpies, or at least received a distressingly painful eye injury. ‘Near to a nest’ doesn’t need to be that close – just close enough for the magpies to judge it to be a potential threat. They have a sort of ‘threat’ radius around the nest which is quite far.

    While doing her first degree, every Spring my daughter had to run the gauntlet of the local magpies every morning when she walked from the student residence to the university – she soon woke up to the need to wear a sturdy hat and eye protection, and to hold her bag up over her head as protection when the inevitable swooping attacks came.

    The other birds that were capable of getting quite nasty with humans were the flocks of ravens that used to invade the local shopping centre, which was a hang-out and lunch place for the students. The ravens would arrive in large flocks looking for anything resembling food, and would aggressively go for anyone who had any, or who just got in the way of some. The ravens are even bigger than the magpies, and very intelligent birds which learn quickly. They remember individual humans, and don’t forget things. Intelligent velociraptors are not too much of a stretch of the imagination.

    When I was farming, I came to hate ravens, because they used to peck the eyes out of newly born lambs.

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  9. Swedish magpies are only aggressive towards cats, and even then they mainly just shout at the predator. The only Swedish birds that attack people are a few species of tern that will dive-bomb you and shit on your head if you approach their nests.

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  10. My daughter will be keen to contact you to arrange to import a large flock of Swedish terns, provided they can be trained to attack on demand. Excellent accommodation and ready access to fishing grounds can be provided.

    Example of ‘magical’ beliefs gone stupid – a building with a hole in the middle to “maximise on the feng shui prescriptions”.

    Hong Kong has a number of large residential buildings with prominent holes in them for ‘feng shui’ reasons – all in more expensive areas, where people can afford to pay for such pointless features in the buildings they live in.

    If you are concerned about the earthquake resistance of buildings, one of the things you really do not want to do is to design a building with a hole in it.

    Seismic risk in Hong Kong is “low to medium” – in practical terms that means there is a 1 in 50 year chance of experiencing an earthquake with ground motions strong enough to cause some buildings to collapse. Prime candidates for collapse? Old post-war buildings constructed very close to or actually touching each other (building hammer), asymmetric buildings (bloody architects), buildings with ‘soft’ first stories (think of tower blocks built on podiums (podia?) with open car parks underneath (very common form of construction for commercial and residential buildings in HK)), and…buildings with bloody great holes in the middle of them for ‘feng shui’ reasons.

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  11. Pearl owls start their mating calls in late winter, and will attack rivals/intruders with claws to the eyes. It is inadvisable to imitate their calls.
    The trush nest in colonies at the edge of forests, and will dive bomb intruders with feces, hence the local name “dyngtrast”.

    John, did the supervolcanism 70 000 years ago in Indonesia affect the southern edge of China as badly as it affected the Indian subcontinent? They got a very thick ash layer across most of India, enough to kill vegetation and starve most of everything to death.

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  12. Birger @ 13 – No, it didn’t. Due to the prevailing wind direction, the ash cloud from the Toba eruption missed the southern Chinese land mass, although a lot of ash went into the South China Sea (which extends well south of the most southerly part of China) (as a lot of people have been noticing recently).

    All of the volcanic rocks (mostly pyroclastic rocks and dikes intruding granite plutons, but some lavas) in Hong Kong date to a period of intense vulcanism around the Triassic/Cretaceous boundary (i.e. circa 200 million years ago), and there are no more recent ash deposits.

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  13. *headslap* – I meant the Jurassic/Cretacious boundary, obviously, about 145 million years ago.

    That was a real brain fatigue moment, that was.

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  14. Australia’s national soccer coach Ange Postecoglou on doping in sport: “Some of the decisions we’re making as adults, some of the people we’re electing in high office here and overseas is a lot more damaging to future generations than anything sport can deliver.”

    Things have come to a bad point when people need a soccer coach to tell them.

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  15. Death on the Danube.
    https://www.academia.edu/26181288/Death_on_the_Danube_Late_Mesolithic_burials_at_Schela_Cladovei_Romania?auto=view&campaign=weekly_digest

    I read the whole paper because I find the Mesolithic, including the late Mesolithic, in Europe to be of particular interest.

    But I have two questions arising from this paper: (1) The evidence is that this population of hunter-gatherers subsisted largely on fish from the Danube. However, there is no evidence of charring of fish bones. Does this suggest that they ate the fish raw? (2) A real oddity jumped out at me – these people were tall, robust and healthy, but their clavicles were particularly robust, and in a number of individuals the left clavicle was noticeably more robust than the right – this suggests it was due to some kind of frequent activity, but I can’t think of a plausible activity that would cause the left clavicle to become more robust than the right.

    I am used to reading about hunter-gatherers with particularly developed arms and shoulders, with attendant evidence of arthritis, which can be attributed to stone throwing, spear throwing and the use of bows, all activities which put particular stress on the right arm and shoulder (given that most humans have always been right hand dominant). So this evidence about the left clavicle has me really stumped.

    Suggestions?

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  16. Birger @ 17 – If Mr Trump thinks it was the USA who defeated Hitler in WWII, he might be advised to revise his WWII history, particularly in relation to the proportion of German troops sent to the Western and Eastern fronts respectively.

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  17. Martin @ 21 – Ah, canoe paddling! Yes, that sounds like a real possibility. Probable, even. I have paddled Canadian Native American style canoes with a single paddle enough to know what it does to you.

    If I was living on a diet of fresh fish, my inclination would always be to grill them. I hadn’t thought of the possibility of boiling them. But then, fish soup…

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  18. John@22: The Daily Mash is a parody news site. Basically the UK’s version of the Onion. However, the latter sometimes has trouble keeping ahead of what’s happening in the so-called real world, so the Daily Mash may have the same difficulty. This is especially true of someone like Donald Trump, who regularly pushes the boundaries of Poe’s Law.

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  19. Eric@26: Yep, I fell for it. But like you say, it’s not difficult to believe that Trump will say almost anything.

    I also regularly fall for Onion headlines for similar reasons. Some of the ‘serious’ news organisations border on self-satire with some of their ridiculous headlines and content.

    Birger@25: It was the second woman who got out, who was killed by a second tiger. The first woman got rescued and survived. So the rule should be: if you are in a car and there are tigers outside, and you have an argument with one of your family members, who gets out of the car and gets dragged away by a tiger, let her go.

    The first tiger looked pretty big – maybe a Siberian, rather than a South China tiger.

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  20. Confirmation – it was the second, older woman who got out of the car to try to save the first, younger woman, who was killed outright by a second tiger. The park staff managed to rescue the severely injured younger woman mauled by the first tiger, who is now recovering in hospital.

    Lessons: (1) As Greg Laden (anthropologist who did his fieldwork among the Efe Pygmies in Africa) said: “It’s the lion (substitute any big cat) you don’t see that will be the one that kills you” (lions always try to stalk prey unseen, and will be disconcerted if the prey turns around and looks at them. (2) If someone is stupid enough to get out of a car, against clear, explicit warnings not to do so, it’s her problem. The park rangers would have rescued her anyway (they careered onto the scene pretty fast), mauled but still alive. So if the second woman had stayed in the car, the first woman would have been no worse off, and the second woman would not be dead.
    http://shanghaiist.com/2016/07/25/tiger_kills_visitor_beijing.php

    Of course, if it had been my wife or daughter, I would have been out of that vehicle like a shot, despite my abject terror of big cats. But then, my wife and daughter are both waaay too smart to do something so incredibly stupid.

    Although my daughter has a thing about enjoying handling venomous snakes, and she can have that all by herself. You are not getting me anywhere near those bloody things. I have had far too many close encounters with them in the Australian bush and Hong Kong jungle to actually think it is fun to pick the things up and drape them on me.

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  21. David at the Eurogenes blog is satisfied that the ‘hypothetical’ Basal Eurasians (where Eurasian here means pertaining to the Eurasian continent) were a real population, but sceptical that it will be possible to reconstruct a full Basal Eurasian genome (unless someone actually stumbles onto the remains of such a person, which is an extremely remote possibility – made more extremely remote by the fact that no one has the foggiest idea where they existed in geographic isolation for a substantial period, long enough to avoid any detectable admixture from Neandertals).
    http://eurogenes.blogspot.hk/2016/07/sneak-peek-basal-eurasian-k7.html

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  22. The Daily Mash:
    “Patronising English arseholes wondering why Scotland might want independence” http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/patronising-english-arseholes-wondering-why-scotland-wants-independence-20160726111377

    Also: “France condemned as petty, jumped-up country obsessed with protecting its borders”

    Also: “52 per cent of Britons don’t believe in moon landings and that number sounds familiar, say experts”

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  23. 52 per cent of Britons don’t believe in moon landings and that number sounds familiar, say experts

    In the US the canonical number is 27 percent. That was the vote share that Alan Keyes got in the 2004 Illinois Senate election against Barack Obama:

    Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him.

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  24. An excellent new paper on the peopling of the Americas is now available on open access by Pontus Skoglund and David Reich. The paper is eminently readable by lay readers (for which the authors deserve to be commended), so I suggest you read the whole thing.

    Click to access 058966.full.pdf

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  25. Swedish Tv just broadcast “Nordic Cosplay Championship” live. An impressive level of skill and craftmanship.

    The winner had chosen a dwarf from “The Hobbit”,wearing an insanely ambitious costume.
    The championship was performed in English (easy for the Finns to understand),
    you can watch the program once they put it on the Svt.se web site, it usually stays in the archive for two weeks.
    Second place was a super-musketeer with a real metal suit of armor. Third place was the queen of the Tyrells, from Game of Trones.
    Most contestants had chosen characters from japanese games I I have never heard of.

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  26. Updated:
    Swedish TV just broadcast “Nordic Cosplay Championship” live. An impressive level of skill and craftmanship.

    The championship was performed in English (easy for the Finns to understand),
    you can watch the program on the Svt.se web site, it usually stays in the archive for two weeks.
    http://www.svtplay.se/video/9645222/nordiska-masterskapet-i-cosplay-2016/nordiska-masterskapet-i-cosplay-inkl-uppsnack-sasong-2-30-jul-21-30?start=auto
    You can scroll past the Swedish language introduction to where the show begins, 35 minutes in.

    The winner had chosen a dwarf from “The Hobbit”, wearing an insanely ambitious costume.
    Second place was a super-musketeer with a real metal suit of armor. Third place was the queen of the Tyrells, from Game of Trones.
    Most contestants had chosen characters from Japanese games I had never heard of, but great costumes. A majority of the participants were women, BTW.

    Like

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