May Pieces Of My Mind #3

In the time of the lilacs, in the month of laburnum

  • I didn’t like any of this year’s Hugo-nominated novels, so I’ll be voting ”No award” there. But the short-story category really has me confused. The novels aren’t great, but most of them are certainly science fiction. Only one of the six shorts though is scifi as opposed to fantasy. Is there no longer a difference between the genre remits of the Nebulas and the Hugos? I thought the Hugos were strictly sf.
  • Today a number of contract archaeologists and metal detectorists have treated me like someone with valuable skills and knowledge. I really need that. Thank you guys!
  • I’ve realised that I’m not into games of the type “let’s all play our own game of solitaire and occasionally glance at each other”, so I’m selling off Race for the Galaxy and Glass Road.
  • Spoke to a physicist at the gaming convention. “I like mathematicians a lot. Won’t hear one bad word about them. I think everyone should own one!”
  • Gekkoes in Ullared
  • The summer weather and three days at cons have severed me from the everyday. I’m confused about going back to work.
  • Junior has received his final high school grades. They’re better than mine were. He’s set to move out from his mom and start studying computer science at Jönköping University come September.
  • Once 45 is ousted, hope his voters will realise they aren’t really equipped to make political choices. Better abstain for the common good.
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31 thoughts on “May Pieces Of My Mind #3

  1. Once 45 is ousted, hope his voters will realise they aren’t really equipped to make political choices. Better abstain for the common good.

    As long as you are indulging in fantasy, you may as well ask for a pony. Dolt 45 hates the same people his voters hate. Many of them would be quite happy to live in a cardboard box under an overpass, roasting a sparrow on a curtain rod, as long as the family in the next cardboard box had neither a sparrow nor a curtain rod on which to roast it. And like Dolt 45, many of these voters will tell you that all of the critical stories are “fake news”. It’s hard people who don’t live in this country to realize just how far down the rabbit hole these voters have gone. It’s hard enough for me, and I live in the US.

    Better to have other voters prepared with suitable identification (because many Republican-run US states are intentionally making it harder for people to vote, including requiring identification that is not trivial to obtain) to overwhelm Dolt 45’s voters.

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  2. I once listened to two friends who are mathematicians discuss one’s dissertation research. I have never been so lost so quickly in a conversation. It was delightful.

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  3. Mathematicians are often useful to physicists. Isaac Newton had to invent calculus in order to prove a particular point in his Principia Mathematica. Since then, mathematicians have generally stayed slightly ahead of physicists in developing mathematical techniques. I am tempted to joke that there are two kinds of mathematicians: theoretical physicists, and those whose mathematics has not yet found a physics application.

    The oldest paper I have ever cited is a 1910 paper in Mathematische Annalen by Alfred Haar called “Zur Theorie der orthogonalen Funktionensysteme” (On the theory of orthogonal function systems). Readers who are into physics or signal processing may have heard of something called the Haar wavelet. That paper is the original reference. Of course Haar didn’t call it a wavelet, because it was another 70 years or so before anyone knew what a wavelet was.

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  4. That’s an important difference between nat-sci and the humanities. I often cite 19th century scholarship. Questions and methods haven’t changed that much.

    Also, the forefront of our research into any given issue moves really slowly because of resource starvation. Nobody’s going to re-do my study of Bronze Age sacrificial sites in the next 50 years or more.

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  5. It’s hard to tell from the photo how big that peony flower is. There is nothing to scale it, unlike the lilac photo with the building in the background.

    I don’t have peonies, but I do have rhododendrons, which are in full bloom right now. A couple of my blueberry bushes are in the process of setting fruit, but they never have been all that productive, and it’s been a few years since my other four have even flowered. The dogwood is also flowering–it has recovered nicely from an early-season snowstorm that severely damaged it a few years back (that was the year we had first frost on 27 October and first snow–about 15 cm worth, with leaves still on most of the trees–on 29 October).

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  6. The peony flowers are 15-20 cm across. Our rhododendron bush is still budding. The Swedish blueberries are tiny wild plants that cover acres and acres in the woods along with the lingonberry plants.

    Dogwood is blomsterkornell in Swedish. Seems I could order one online for $36 plus postage. Looks pretty in the pictures!

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  7. Another attack in London fortunately the culprits have been more inept than before. The confirmed details are sparse.

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  8. Correction
    Six victims and three perpetrators are dead.
    Under the circumstances it is fortunate that suicide terrorists did not kill more than twice their own number.

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  9. The police in European cities react faster and know what to do. The suicide attackers only got two victims for each of them.

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  10. Plenty of people in the UK still remember the IRA. The British police have plenty of experience from which to draw up protocols for dealing with this kind of situation. Likewise in much of continental Europe, where they had to deal with the likes of Baader-Meinhof et al.

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  11. Sensational new preprint:
    http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/06/05/145409

    “Cumulatively, our data show that the deepest split among modern humans occurred at >260 kya, pushing the emergence of H. sapiens to beyond 260 kya.”

    “The deepest split-time calculation of >260 kya is consistent with the archaeological estimate for the onset of the Middle Stone Age across sub-Saharan Africa.”

    Note that the split-time calculation is subject to estimates of mutation rate and length of generation (they have used 30 years/generation), so the time depth of the divergence could vary quite a bit, but not comparatively to other time estimates which use the same assumed rates. Which pushes it back in time a lot – really a lot.

    If this stands up to scrutiny by the scientific community, then it is very big news. Huge, actually.

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  12. Yes. Divergence that far back INSIDE anatomically modern humans… I will not even speculate how far back the split with archaic humans go.

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  13. BTW today is the official national day. People mostly ignore it in favour of the real summer holiday , midsommar.

    For a species that has ben around 250 kyear we sure have made a right mess of the last centuries at av accelerating pace, but it is nice to take a holiday and forget the crap. Like Eva Braun in “Downfall”; “alles muss tanzen”!

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  14. Birger@18 – This is ground-shaking stuff. It pushes the emergence of anatomically modern humans back by a lot – just how much depends on what is assumed about mutation rate, but regardless of the assumption, it is a lot. It may call for re-examination of at least one set of ‘archaic’ human remains that could actually turn out to be ‘modern’.

    The other reason I posted the link here is that the first two authors of the paper are Swedish, or at least they work at a Swedish university (Uppsala).

    So this is breaking the Eske Willerslev/David Reich duopoly on research into ancient modern human genomes, and a feather in the cap for Swedish human genetics research – not that I have anything against either of Willerslev or Reich, I like them both and they have both done some very fine work and I am a big fan of both. But as sequencing gets cheaper, it is good to have more researchers getting involved – the more that do, the faster the science will advance.

    Incidentally, I note that Eske Willerslev was made an honorary member of the Crow Nation after his work on Kennewick Man – not an honour available to many people, I would think. He has also done excellent work on Aboriginal Australians – both groups (Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians) were previously highly suspicious of genetics researchers, but Willerslev seems to have the knack of earning people’s trust and active participation, which can ultimately only be a good thing. I admire his efforts tremendously.

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  15. Alas, since nobody else has brought it up, I guess I have to:

    That mathematician joke is a slight mutation to an old racist line in the US: to reproduce the original, substitute “African-American” (or n-word, for historical precision) for the object of the first sentence.

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  16. Palaeoanthropology in Africa is exploding – not before time – and it is suggesting that maybe, just maybe, there was something in the multi-regional model of human evolution after all, but within Africa. The Bantu expansion might have obscured a lot of earlier diversity.

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  17. The braided stream of human evolution just suddenly got ever so complicated.
    View story at Medium.com

    Ghosts of hominins past – everywhere you look.

    The population of modern humans that migrated out of Africa around 50-60,000 years ago was probably no more than about 1,000 individuals. That means that all of us, except subSaharan Africans are, in relative terms, inbred to hell.

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  18. A word about the Hugo novels; my own choice for winner would be Too Like the Lightning. It was our May book for our geek book club and though it was a bit slow starting, it was very thought-provoking. Normally our group spends half an hour discussing a book, and an hour and half discussing pop culture, but we spent our whole two hours on this one.

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  19. From Birger’s link @29, a bit of Fun with Acronyms:

    Born in Saint-Jérôme, Berthiaume contested Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie in the 2008 federal election as a neorhino.ca candidate.[12] He was the leader of the Rhinoceros Party’s Laboratoire des Sciences de la Démocratie (LSD) in 2011.[13]

    I am hoping that the acronym was intentional.

    As for their platform, wow. Say what you will about the tenets of the UK’s Monster Raving Loony Party, at least it’s an ethos.

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