- Empty email inbox! Nothing I need to attend to now. I love the postpone function in Google Inbox.
- Hehe. Old dude writes about shoreline displacement and what the level was around Stockholm in 1250 compared to today. For “today”, he cites a book from 1982. When the vertical displacement is about 5 cm per decade.
- Listening to smoke-drenched stoner rock and cooking elk lasagna.
- Starting a movement. We believe that people who are afraid of fluoridation are crazy. But that the iodine in table salt is mind-control.
- Movie: The Shape of Water. Merman locked into military research facility forms bond with lonely cleaning lady. Grade: Great!
- Love the new study in Antiquity of the Kanaljorden bones by Sara Gummesson, Fredrik Hallgren and Anna Kjellström! “We have recognised a sexrelated, non-random, trauma pattern, where non-lethal forces were directed to the back of the head of women and to the top of the head of men. The fact that the majority of the individuals show healed injuries seems to be more than a coincidence and implies that they were specifically chosen for inclusion in the deposition.”
- Power tip: the Google Translate app for Android does OCR of text in photos. You can easily get the original photographed text in editable form, not just the translation.
- Tenacious D’s “Tribute” has the same central conceit as Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. “This is not the best song in the world: it’s just a tribute”.
- I tweeted a link to a scifi story by Arthur C. Clarke. Three pornbots have retweeted it so far. These bots are more than just a pretty face!
- The Scotsman headline: ”Bodies may have to be exhumed to make way for Edinburgh trams”. Or in archaeologist lingo, “Edinburgh trams offer possible opportunity to excavate burial site”.
- Celtic scholars, how can I tell the Goidelic from the psychedelic? Signed, “Dasedd ac Confulledd”
- Zork alumni, take note: I played through Buster Hudson’s award-winning 2017 text adventure game The Wizard Sniffer, and enjoyed it a lot! It runs in your browser. Apparently lots of good interactive fiction is still published every year. I must look into this further.
108 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind 1”
“When the vertical displacement is about 5 cm per decade.”
Not anymore. In Helsinki the shoreline has been in the same place since about 1990s, because the Baltic sea level is now rising at the same rate as the ground. In future it will be even faster.
When they were building part of the inner ring road in Wolverhampton (West Midlands) they had a big problem with the bodies from a Georgian church yard which had moved under ground. The road cut off a corner of the church yard and the project manager had planned for the exhumation of the marked graves with the associated necessity for archaeologiststo do the work, plus religious and Home Office presence to satisfy the spiritual and temporal authorities, but hadn’t taken account of the possibility of movement underground. The project was ddelayed for at least a day each time a new body that had moved was found as nothing could be done until the appropriate experts were on site and the Home Office representative in particularr wasn’t always available at the drop of a spade.
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Oh good grief – New York belatedly discovers Chinese quack medicine.
US$70/bottle? Oh boy, I gonna get rich shipping Chinese quack crap to New York.
Pei Pa Koa will provide some temporary relief from sore throat, because it’s very thick, sticky, syrupy and sugary. So will a big spoonful of honey. Does PPK have ‘healing powers’? No, none. Zero.
New Yorkers will probably be disappointed to learn that an equally popular HK ‘folk remedy’ for sore throat is hot CocaCola with lemon. I’m not kidding. It balances the Qi (chi) beautifully. Or not.
Some genius has decided that Qi sounds like the immune system – convenient, that. Well, could be.
Words of warning for the overly-trusting unwary:
(1) Some Chinese proprietary medicines have been found to contain various toxic nasties which are not declared on the label. Pak Fah Yeow (intended for external use only) is very toxic, so be careful what you put it on – plus people with respiratory problems could find it to be really bad news. And don’t go sticking it up your nose – your mucous membranes will definitely not thank you for it.
(2) Watch out for cordyceps – it stimulates the immune system so much that you could end up with an over-active immune system, which you really don’t want.
(3) Chinese are hardly the only people to discover the benefits of chicken soup – cue joke about Jewish mothers. It turns out that of all liquids tested in relation to speed of rehydration of the body, including stuff like sports drinks, the stuff that rehydrates the fastest (short of an intravenous drip) is good old chicken soup. That’s why Jewish mothers prescribe it as a cure-all – it rehydrates. Plus it contains a good balance of electrolytes, better than sports drinks. I tried it cold and diluted with water as a drink while playing tennis in hot humid weather, when I have to change my T-shirt every 30 minutes because the one I’m wearing gets completely drenched with sweat – fail. It tastes disgusting like that.
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Facial recognition test. Quite good fun, and definitely not easy.
I scored in the top 50% in the UNSW test – so, I don’t suffer from face blindness, but no superhuman powers.
I thought ‘Shape of Water’ was a remake of ‘Splash’ with the sexes reversed. I’ve got to see it before it leaves town.
My favorite text adventure game was over at The Little Professor. It captured academia all too well:
PLAYER: EDIT THESIS
GAME: With what? Your bare hands?
There is a story told about a guy I know who is a decade or two older than I am. He was typing up his Ph.D. thesis back in the days when you were expected to use typewriters (even plain old TeX had not yet been invented). According to the story, he skipped a page number somewhere in mid-thesis, and rather than retype a bunch of pages with the correct page numbers, he wrote an additional page to fit exactly in the space created by the missing page number.
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The cordyceps I’m referring to is this:
Yuck. Caterpillars parasitised by a fungus.
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But it’s natural! /sarcasm
Which I think is one of the dumbest claims made given how very many are the ways nature can kill you.
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Arsenic is natural, which I remind everyone who is into alternative medicine…
Also, if you use arsenic to cure (insert name of disease), a big dose will be 100% successful.
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It’s worth noting that a lot of plant extracts have turned out to have ‘miracle’ beneficial medicinal properties, but that really shouldn’t be surprising – lots of those compounds have found their way into Western medicine as well. Also, a lot of Western drugs initially thought to be OK have turned out to be really nasty, plus humans have a lot of variation in response to drugs. The problem with Chinese Traditional Medicine and similar traditions is that they are wholly anecdotal, lack any kind of trials and standardisation, and lack quality controls on TCM practitioners. There are moves to trial all of that stuff, of course, but when they do, results vary markedly.
But when you go to a TCM practitioner, you are really gambling, more so that with a Western trained medical practitioner (although in reality that is still a bit of a gamble – before the 20th Century, doctors killed a lot more people than they helped). And there are a lot of conditions for which TCM has no answer. But then, there are a lot of conditions for which Western medicine has no answer, but for which TCM might (or might not) have something that works.
You pays your money and you takes your choice, as my old secondary science teacher used to say. If you have cancer or a cracked skull, Western medicine is the only realistic choice, and an ethical TCM practitioner will tell you that.
“I gonna get rich shipping Chinese quack crap”
Some guys get rich by exporting coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of a small southeast-asian mammal (I forget which). Aparently the digestive enzymes do not destroy the beans but gives the coffee a better flavor.
-Now, if we could GM the human intestinal commensal bacteria to do the same job, we will have a new purpose for those made unemployed by robots. Machines cannot produce crap as well as humans!
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And I didn’t make that name up.
I have heard of that stuff. It’s called kopi luwak, and it’s been through the digestive system of a palm civet. Its American importer, John Martinez, won the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition for this discovery.
Asian palm civet is neither paradoxical nor hermaphroditic. Who makes these names up?
Anal glands emit a nauseating secretion. I wonder if that flavours the coffee beans. I don’t intend to find out.
Presumably it does, as that is the selling point of kopi luwak. I am not a coffee drinker myself, so of course I do not know this firsthand, and I also have no intention of finding out.
The other part is that the coffee cherries are ‘selected’ by the palm civets, and they only select the good stuff.
But as they are now factory farmed in cages and force fed on coffee cherries to make them shit out a lot of beans, I doubt the selection part applies any more.
“Applied” vs. “pure” https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/villainy
Best vocal version in my opinion, though not the most (in)famous. Visuals are irritating.
https://www.you tube.com/watch?v=ihpGNoCreyg Without the space in youtube (yes, I’m paying attention).
Singer died in a car crash aged 27. Should have been added to the 27 Club, but hasn’t been.
Sort of interesting guy – had a master’s degree in biochemistry and was employed as as assistant professor, then worked as a chemist for a company that made/makes beverage containers.
Real-life vigilantes are ugly bastards
“Northern Ireland ‘punishment’ attacks rise 60% in four years” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/12/northern-ireland-punishment-attacks-rise-60-in-four-years
“Missouri has become a magnet for older men who want to marry teenage girls — and some are their rapists” https://www.rawstory.com/2018/03/missouri-may-married-hundreds-15-year-olds-men-raped-report/
(vomits) , -not shithole “countries”, shithole *states*
The headline is extremely misleading. The age of consent (for non-married couples) is 17. It is several years lower in many countries, as it should be. So the alternative is sometimes to go go prison for violating the age of consent, or marrying one’s statutory rapist. (If you don’t know what “statutory rape” is, look it up. It turns a consensual relationship into a crime if the age of consent is higher than somewhere else.) The solution is not to raise the age at which people can marry, but to lower the age of consent.
And lumping 18-year-old men who have consensual sex with 15-year-old women with pedophiles is bad journalism, pure and simple.
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I stand corrected.
“Genetic prehistory of Iberia differs from central and northern Europe”
I don’t know how to cut and paste links with my phone. Google is your friend.
The main thrust as reported is not right. Y Haplogroup R1b is the most frequent of Y Haplogroups among Spaniards and Portuguese, occurring everywhere in Spain at over 50%. Interestingly enough, it is at highest frequency among Basques, who have retained a non-Indo-European language. Also interesting enough, Bell Beaker Culture (associated with high frequency of R1b) originated in Iberia.
Iberia differs from central and northern Europe in frequency of Y Haplogroups associated with Steppe migrations, being lower because furthest away, but also because R1a is more dominant in central and northern Europe, while R1b is more dominant in western Europe – currently thought to represent at least two waves of Steppe migration, from different parts of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. Still doesn’t mean that Steppe migrations had only trivial impact on Iberia – that’s clearly not the case. But people associated with Bell Beaker Culture in Iberia seem to have been fairly heterogeneous – how many samples researchers use and which can skew the findings. Using only 13 samples to represent the whole of Iberia over a fairly long time period is just dumb – sampling error could be really high. And it’s not like no one else has previously sampled and published on this.
“Both Bronze Age males carried haplogroup R1b-M269…, which is frequent among Late Neolithic and Bronze Age samples from other parts of Europe… This uniparental marker composition is in agreement with the well-known admixture between resident hunter-gatherers and incoming farmers.”
That’s drivel. R1b-M269 is clearly Steppe-derived.
They contradict themselves on that later in the paper, where they appear to acknowledge that R1b-M269 is indeed Steppe-derived.
Not that I have any reason for wanting it to be Steppe-derived – it just is whatever it is.
Martin, pretty sure you will know about this, but just in case:
Re: Interactive fiction
Adam Cadre has written some good stuff, and I’ll bet he’s also in the know as to where to find more.
I’ve only played his 9:05 and Shrapnel, not being a huge fan of the genre. I did enjoy them, though!
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“Population genomic analysis of elongated skulls reveals extensive female-biased immigration in Early Medieval Bavaria.”
That’s elongated skulls as in Artificial Cranial Deformation – very weird, but lots of people in different parts of the world ‘improved on nature’ like that. The Huns did it.
I know I said I wasn’t posting any more paper links, but this one hits a lot of bases, including possible evidence of acquired resistance to Yersinia pestis (before the historically attested Plague of Justinian) and lactase persistence (or lack of), so reading the whole thing is interesting, or should be.
Sweet dreams are made of cheese.
Who am I to diss a brie?
I cheddar the world and the feta cheese.
Everybody’s looking for stilton.
We got to install Microsoft Office
Custom server deliveries
We’ve got to move these laptop computers
We’ve got to move these flat panel screens
Oh, and for those who write dates in American (month/day/year) or Chinese (year/month/day) fashion: Happy Pi Day (3-14).
I am aware that Europeans usually celebrate Pi Day in July (22/7).
Australia: Tracking the spread of early hunter-gatherers through language https://phys.org/news/2018-03-tracking-early-hunter-gatherers-language.html
That piece is actually a lot better than a piece written by Bowern herself, who claims that the adoption of Pama-Nyungan languages resulted from large scale population movements due to climate change (a claim already refuted years ago by the work done by Eske Willerslev’s group, which is what Atkinson is referring to in referencing genetic data – that group’s finding on that really surprised them, which always gives me more confidence – no confirmation bias; they expected to find evidence of large scale population movement as an explanation for the spread of Pama Nyungan languages, but didn’t find any evidence for that at all). The usual problem – the paper is published in Nature, so it’s inaccessible. I didn’t reference Bowern’s piece because it is wrong, and I couldn’t be bothered with writing a refutation of it.
This is the piece I chose not to reference.
If you bother to read it, just remind yourself while reading that she is wrong about how the transmission of Pama-Nyungan languages happened. “Our findings suggest this language family spread across Australia as people moved in response to changing climate.” – No. The findings on origin and timing of the origin of Pama-Nyungan are about right (although I don’t know how she can pin it down to a specific pinpoint location – I have never heard of any other linguist who claims to be able to do that, so my guess is that she is taking the finding from the computer modeling too literally because she doesn’t understand it – you can maybe do that with the spread of an epidemic disease if you have enough data, but that is an imperfect model for language), but the mode of transmission she is guessing at is wrong, and she is ignoring the weight of genetic and archaeological evidence. Gee, a linguist insisting on operating inside her own bubble and ignoring compelling evidence from other disciplines – what else is new? Worse, what she is pushing out is pure supposition, devoid of evidence – it’s a guess that has already been shown to be false. Cultural transmission does happen – it happened in Europe, with the transmission of Bell Beaker Culture from west to east, without large scale population movements.
What actually happened in Australia: after humans arrived, they spread fairly quickly all around the coast and populated the coastal areas, moved inland along rivers and populated the areas around large inland lakes, and then remained there as semi-isolated groups, with limited inter-group contacts and mixing; and that demographic did not change substantially with the spread of Pama-Nyungan, which arose in NE Australia and spread to most areas, evidently accompanied by new stone tool technology and maybe other changes in things like food-processing, and also maybe changes in technology of other tools using less durable materials like hardwoods (but we can’t know about those), but *without* major movement of people. Occupation of desert areas looks like it was fairly recent (bearing in mind the total timescale for human occupation), aided by the new stone tool tech., which enabled people to survive in desert environments.
The Beaker people story is more complex than you suggest, although they didn’t replace the existing populations all over Europe they did replace most of the Neolithic population in the UK, See https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25738
That’s why I said west to east in Europe. I was trying not to be long winded, for once. Bell Beaker Culture started in Iberia among Neolithic people, before descendants of Steppe herders ever got there, which is why BBC people sampled there are so heterogeneous. That’s not to say that R1b didn’t become dominant in western Europe, associated with spread of BBC, it certainly did, and in the population turnover that happened in Britain and Ireland, to the point that R1b is dominant in the UK and Ireland today (and also consequently in the Anglosphere). But further spread of BBC eastward in Europe was without population turnover – I was just trying to illustrate that culture can sometimes be transmitted by cultural diffusion (or elite emulation) without population turnover.
What Willerslev’s group found when they succeeded in sampling Aboriginal groups around many areas of Australia was that groups in different geographical areas had remained semi-isolated genetically for a very long time (they had to calculate time depth by assuming mutation rates, which is always a problem with estimating time depth from genetic data, so the error bars are pretty large, but not totally wrong), whereas Pama-Nyungan languages had spread around most areas of the country starting in NE Australia fairly quickly starting only about 6,000 years ago, and new stone tool technology had done likewise – without any evidence of associated population turnover in roughly the same time frame, there are not too many ways that can happen.
“Stephen Hawking, best-known physicist of his time, has died/” https://phys.org/news/2018-03-stephen-hawking-best-known-physicist-died.html
Article in Svenska Dagbladet; “Without ADHD humans would never have left Africa”.
The point of the article is, just because some kids are a nuisance in the classroom does not mean that their personality quirks are “bad” in some objective sense, those quirks can be useful.
Unfortunately it uses an example that is completely wrong-headed.
Humans didn’t know they were leaving subSaharan Africa, they just did what humans had been doing for a very long time: moving into unoccupied territory that they could move into when it was suitable for human occupation and foraging for food. The reason they moved out of sS Africa when they did was because the Sahara became green, so they could occupy it and cross it. That had nothing at all to do with that group having ADHD.
Suggesting there was something ‘special’ about the humans who migrated out of sS Africa plays straight into the hands of race-supremacists. There is nothing to suggest that those humans were any different from any other humans in Africa during that time period, aside from the fact that a couple of groups had already split off and diverged by then.
But that is assuming that modern humans emerged in sS Africa, and that might not be the case – there is some evidence suggesting that might have happened in northern Africa, or even in the Middle East; if that turns out to be true, then early modern humans would not have been migrating out of sS Africa, they would have been migrating in, during climatic periods when they could.
But also, the first humans (members of the Homo genus) to migrate out of Africa were Homo erectus, so far as is currently known – does anyone want to suggest that *those* H. erectuses must have been the ones with ADHD?
Kids who genuinely have ADHD (and I’m at least suspicious that a lot of kids who are diagnosed as having ADHD and medicated for it actually don’t have it) are bad in an objective sense in a normal classroom – they continually disrupt the learning of the other students. Kids who genuinely have it have learning disability and need special teaching.
Svenska Dagbladet fail.
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Humans didn’t need to know they were leaving wherever they did leave for a variation in neurotype to contribute to that movement. I have no idea whether the suggestion is true, but it wouldn’t be surprising if atypical people who didn’t fit in well were the first to move into new areas. There does need to be a benefit of some sort for the genes causing ADHD, autism etc which certainly have disbenefits to stay in populations, which they clearly have, not all the ones we have found are new mutations. Whether that benefit is in the fully expressed genes I don’t think we can say either way at this point.
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Things don’t need to be adaptive to be transmitted genetically – lots of examples of that, with early onset diseases which have no benefits.
There’s a very big risk of confusing human behaviour which is just part of the normal range of human variation with ADHD, which is why I strongly suspect over-diagnosis in kids – diagnosis rates vary really a lot between countries, which should be a heads-up. Also Autism, not to be confused with people who are somewhere on the Asperger spectrum. One thing that characterises ADHD in genuine cases is that they score low on cognitive ability – the opposite of what one might expect. A lot of people with Down Syndrome have ADHD. A lot of adults with ADHD have other associated psychiatric disorders.
What medication do psychiatrists use to treat ADHD (with some success in patients who are genuinely ADHD)? Stimulants – also the opposite of what one might expect. Should tell you something.
A guy who is energetic, adventurous, curious and risk-taking above the norm should not be confused with a condition like ADHD or Autism. If a guy wanders off by himself, why should the whole group pick up and follow him, unless he comes back and reports to the group that there is promising-looking territory that they could move to? That’s a form of cooperative social behaviour, something that ADHD and Autism sufferers are notably bad at. “Oh, that weird, unsociable, dislikeable nuisance of a guy Bill wandered off by himself days ago and hasn’t come back. He must have found somewhere good. In that case, we had better follow him.” I doubt it. That’s not how nomadic hunter-gatherers move – the whole group picks up and moves as a group. Likely the hunters have scouted ahead, that’s what hunters do, but likely not alone. Guys who wander off by themselves get eaten, or die in other ways.
Hunter-gatherers are characterised by high levels of social cooperation and organisation, necessarily so. San Bushmen who are still hunter-gatherers never go out hunting alone – there are always at least two of them, and often more. They are typical in that respect. Same with Hadza. And they take younger males with them to teach them ‘on the job’ so to speak. Same with Aboriginal men, and Aboriginal women who hunt smaller animals. Successful hunting without the aid of modern firearms requires cooperation, organisation, and passing on skills and knowledge to the next generation, and those things are notably lacking in ADHD and Autistic people.
There’s something else about ADHD – more children are diagnosed with it than adults, and 4 times more males than females, but it manifests differently in females. At some point it seems that a fair number of kids diagnosed with it (1/3 to 2/3) ‘grow out of it’. Medical authorities in different countries (e.g. USA vs UK) use different diagnostic criteria. Plus it seems like there are different ‘types’, which manifest if very different ‘typical’ behaviours.
Schizophrenia has a heritable component. There is nothing adaptive about Schizophrenia. The buggeration with Schizophrenia is that it might not be manifested until someone is in their early 20s, unlike ADHD and Autism.
I’m told that if you can make it to the age of 23 without turning barking mad, you probably won’t. Up until then…
I do get the point about people with critical thinking or creative thinking ability – I have had staff like that, and tried to use their strengths while being very tolerant of their multitude of weaknesses, picking up on the occasional valuable idea and discarding the nonsense (despite them nagging me about me ignoring their obvious brilliance when I could see their ideas were worthless, which they often were). But disruptive people tend not to be well accommodated in companies; likewise people who endlessly procrastinate, can never get started on a task, can’t concentrate, can’t multi-task, can’t complete tasks, constantly lose their temper with others, and so on. There is generally not much accommodation for people who just sit in a corner disagreeably and endlessly tossing out ideas for other people to investigate and put into practice (9 out of every 10 or more of which might be totally worthless wild goose chases) but never doing anything themselves. And people do need to get along with one another.
I didn’t make clear enough what I was trying to say about genes, there are clearly genes that are dominant that are beneficial in a single dose but detrimental in a double dose. We know about some of the ones that give obvious physical benefits in the single dose, but I haven’t seen any work about the possible benfits of single doses for genes that make the individual susceptible to mental illnesses that have a genetic component. So to take schizophrenia as an example, in the past it may have been retained in populations because those who eventually developed ithad already bred, but it is also true that many are highly intelligent and that may also have been a factor in it’s retention (sorry I know I’m not using the correct words, or expressing what I am trying to say well or clearly, but I’m in pain and the tramadol is only taking the edge off)
Oh and when I said it might be atypical neurotypes, I didn’t mean the extreme ends , they wouldn’t be useful, but the kind of person that pushes farther than is really sane, like a lot of the so-called ‘great’ explorers or adventurers.
Yes, I get completely what you are saying about homozygotes vs heterozygotes, and I agree with your point – probably the most well known case of that is malaria resistance, where heterozygotes have resistance to malaria which is beneficial, but homozygotes get sickle cell, which is fatal. And I also get your point that there are a lot of genetic variants that persist in humans when no one can find an explanation for why they should be adaptive – some of those have gone to such high frequency that they must have been strongly adaptive, but no one knows why – like the EDAR variant, which has gone to fixity in East Asians, 100%, and results in coarse black hair, average smaller breast size in females and different distribution of sweat glands, plus some differences in lactation, but no one can find a convincing effect of that variant that would make it so strongly selected, but there must be something that researchers have been unable to find (and I don’t buy sexual selection as a convincing explanation). I understand you on all of that – you said it in admirably few words, but I got it.
And I also get your point that there may have been something adaptive about genetic variants that result in mental disorders in some cases, and I don’t disagree with you on that (if I can be permitted a double negative). I’m with you on all of that. And I agree that there should be a place for people who are not neurotypical, but such people can be very difficult to accommodate in the modern world – in that respect, the world might be less tolerant place than it used to be, or there is a lot less space on the margins now for ‘crazy’ people to operate and do extraordinary things. Isaac Newton was a real prick, apparently, but I couldn’t do my work without his Physics.
I’m so sorry that you are in such pain. I do think about that quite a bit. I tend to get angry with some of the stuff that I see written about ‘pain management’, mostly by people who don’t have chronic high levels of pain themselves.
Get well soon, Jazz! (Maybe that’s the wrong thing to say if it’s a chronic ailment.)
Thank you both, Martin the pain level varies so ‘get better soon’ might be more appropriate, as although I am not going to get well barring a scientific breakthrough I can be better than I am at the moment 😉
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What a surprise! Ben Carson is a liar too https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/14/ben-carson-wife-picked-out-furniture-emails-show
This would be fun if it was not so goddamn destructive. Actually, no satire author would have gotten away with writing such a monotonous plot.
Platypus milk contains a protein with strong antibacterial properties. Maybe applicable to multidrug-resistant bacteria?
And apparently, humans interbred with Denisovans on two distinct occasions.
– – –
I had no idea that physicists can produce neutrons by bona fide fusion. Obviously, they do not get out more energy than they put in…yet.
The reaction with the lowest threshold, in terms of achievable densities and temperatures, is to fuse a deuterium nucleus (one proton and one neutron) with a tritium nucleus (one proton and two neutrons). But there are no stable nuclei with mass 5, so you get a free neutron and a helium-4 nucleus (two protons and two neutrons).
The reason there are no stable nuclei with mass 5 or 8 is because helium-4 has a much higher binding energy per nucleon than any other low-mass nucleus. Small amounts of lithium (masses 6 and 7), beryllium (mass 9), and boron (masses 10 and 11) were created in the Big Bang. To get any further up the periodic table, you need to collide three helium-4 nuclei together to get carbon-12. After that, it’s straightforward until you get to iron-56, which has the highest binding energy per nucleon of any nucleus, at which point you get what Marvin the Martian would call an Earth-shattering kaboom. Elements beyond iron are formed only in supernovae, or in laboratory experiments.
Two pulses of Denisovan admixture. Full paper is here, for those who indulge:
I do indulge but don’t usually comment on the fact that I have, commenting now so you know at least some of the papers are read by at least one person.
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“our horny, globe-trotting ancestors” *sigh*
I used to like Ed Yong’s science writing, when he wasn’t writing endlessly about insects, but I have gone off him.
Meanwhile, geneticist Q. Fu says she is searching for evidence of Denisovans in China – she thinks that it’s likely she’ll find some, and she’s a serious, grounded scientist who has done lots of good work elsewhere. Whatever, it’s a good thing that she is now researching in China – she has a very respected international pedigree that makes her work credible, and counters the hyper-nationalist types.
An article in Science describes the emergence of more complex tools in Kenya ca 320 000 years ago.
I’m not big on stone tools, but that seems like a really important finding.
Dizygotic twins Millie and Marcia are different – Millie likes ‘girly’ things, Marcia’s a ‘tom-boy’.
“Why Obama is Partly Responsible for Gina Haspel” (the torturer wh o is new head of the CIA) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/03/16/obama-partly-responsible-gina-haspel/
Study with infants suggests language not necessary for reasoning ability https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-infants-language-ability.html
“The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/16/corporate-media-oligarchy-bernie-sanders
I have to admit I didn’t read that as the headline irritated me so much. I have known and objected to the rise of theoligarchy for years as have many other people. Don’t patronise me! Perhaps unfair as he won’t have written the headline.
Robot Future https://xkcd.com/1968/
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Are British people more genetically predisposed to drinking tea than French people? Geneticists can’t tell you.
I find this piece to be really informative, because it applies to all sorts of things. Expect lots of stories to come out claiming genetic explanations for things that aren’t.
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Good summary! It is exactly the sort of complication in the genetics of particular traits that I was trying to express in our conversation about the basis for the retention of different neurotypes in populations. As you said it’s easy enough to see in something like sickle cell where we have one change and a clear benefit in the heterzygous state; when we have multiple allele contributing to a trait it becomes more difficult to measure the benefits and disbenefits of the different combinations. We simply do not have enough mapped genomes to draw any concluions yet.
….which will in no way deter media from publising such claims.
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Nice that he used something as innocuous as a preference for drinking tea to puncture really a lot of things that elicit much stronger emotions based on fabricated notions. I’m always amused by the moral panics that happen as a consequence of advances in genetics, like how the Chinese are intent on breeding a race of super-intelligent beings, or how American parents will engineer children with desired traits like intelligence or sporting ability; ‘playing God’, etc.
Gazing out of my window this morning – suddenly, two flashes of black lightning shot past silently, one male, one female, pacing each other – front foot runners. They were followed some time later by a field of gasping Chinese runners, mostly males with the occasional female, pounding the ground loudly as they desperately and hopelessly tried to keep up – heel strike runners. Chalk up another one for the Africans.
Origins of the Malagasy:
At least two separate migrations: one Dayaks from southern Borneo (!!!), then another Bantu one later from East Africa. Other admixture is there, but trivial.
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That’s amazing! I wonder when the Dayaks came.
There’s a problem with estimates of timing from genetics in the absence of archaeology, particularly with a population derived from two different groups who arrived at different times and mixed at different times in different parts of Madagascar, but they’ve had a go at it.
They estimated split time for the Austronesians between south Borneo and Madagascar as 2,000 – 3,000 y BP, but could be older. Yes, truly amazing. That’s some trip.
Thor Heyerdahl was looking for transoceanic migration in the wrong places!
Considering these feats, it is surprising that there was no regular trade between what is today China on one side and India/west asia until Claudius was emperor of Rome.
Austronesians were intrepid sailors par excellence and evidently not flat earthers. Also, they hit on big outrigger sailing canoes as suitable vessels for long ocean voyages. Everywhere you look around insular SE Asia, coastal Papua New Guinea + islands, everywhere in the Pacific and to New Zealand you see outrigger canoes. Papuans might have been able to follow Austronesian sea migrations and also migrate westwards into the eastern islands of Indonesia by copying their canoes – seems at least a possibility.
A lot depended on naval technology. Later, Arabs became long distance sea traders because of their naval tech., particularly the lateen sail rigging, which got copied by others (Portuguese I think, with the caravel). Arab traders got at least as far as Hainan Island, that I know of.
Heyerdahl with his stupid bloody square rigged balsa wood raft – you would think he might have noticed outrigger canoes. They are pretty hard to miss anywhere you go in SE Asia and the Pacific.
There is interesting stuff on Youtube, but inserting a link means a huge window pops up, slowing down the loading of the thread.
Is there a simpler way to avoid this than breaking the link in half, requiring people to paste it into a browser?
Maybe if you run the link through bit.ly?
First time we went to Sabah, we met a Dayak girl who entertained our daughter (then about 8) by telling her that her grandfather’s living room was decorated with human heads.
When it was time to leave, my daughter pleaded with me to buy a blowgun + darts. To her bitter disappointment I declined on the grounds that the blowgun was much too long to fit into our luggage (having had a nightmarish vision of trying to explain it to HK Customs).
OK, it is Monday morning, I do not have the energy to learn new procedures just yet, so I wil cut this link before the ” = ” sign and see what happens. If it works, you will not get a big bloody image, instead you can cut and paste the link into the browser, deleting the gap before the “=” .
British accents (from Hot Fuzz) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v =5Ng3fG1u4Xg
That’s just the same old two guys waffling endlessly about the minutiae of long obsolete, really badly designed tanks. Not that I’m complaining, you understand.
I guess it must really be Monday morning…somewhere.
Oh no, it wasn’t the tank one. Sorry. Forget I spoke.
So, I gave it a test run for you, Birger.
You just copy and paste the URL into the box, and then click on ‘copy’, and then ‘paste’ in the Aard comment box.
Sifting through old texts looking for clues to original version(I forget the formal name of this science, it may be “textual criticism” or something like that)
This is the kind of stuff muslim scholars in the eleventh century would have been delighted to investigate, but nowadays anyone who questions the perfection of the text is considered a heretic.
“99.99999997% of all Muslims have Never Seen This [Dr. James White] ”
“DISCOVERY: Oldest Quran Found Has Little Similarity To Modern Version”
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Razib talks up chocolate. And talks a bit about David Reich’s book. Should be worth reading for anyone who likes chocolate.
Aaargh! That’s what you were intent on not doing! Yeah, I watched it already. Pretty funny, except those old WWII anti-ship mines are really not funny.
After the liberation of HK from Japanese occupation, the Australian navy were given the job of sweeping the harbour for anti-ship mines, and they missed one (at least, that we know of). It had got loose from whatever was anchoring it to the seabed and had been drifting around submerged for that long – and then it got picked up in the drag head of the HAM dredging company’s flagship the HAM 308 while it was dredging. It detonated in the pump room, the explosion lifted the ship right up out of the water and broke its back, and some crewmen were seriously injured. The ship was a write-off and got towed away for scrap. In other words, the mine did exactly what it was designed to do, it destroyed a big ship. I hope there aren’t any more drifting around out there, because those things are absolutely lethal.
I was sitting in the bar of the cricket club talking to some other guys, and the insurer of that ship walked in – this was just after the news broke about what happened to the ship. The guy was white in the face and shaking, and he tremulously asked the barman for a double whisky. One of the other guys asked him if he was OK, because he looked in pretty bad shape, really shocked and shaky, and that’s when I found out from his answer who he was. I never got news about the injured crewmen; there was no follow up on the news about them. But it wasn’t just some cuts and bruises, they were badly hurt.
Construction people here are still digging up WWII bombs and other ordnance, often in heavily populated areas, and probably will be for a long time, and that’s not just news in HK obviously, it still happens in Europe a lot (not to mention all of the stuff lying around in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and anywhere else where there have been large scale military conflicts, and unexploded anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs are a really big problem), but the Police here are well trained, well equipped and practised in dealing with those things. Once I and one of my workmates went to visit the Police Explosive Ordinance Division in their office, which was in the middle of town, and one of the EOD guys came out to say hello and accompany us inside, and by the entry door there was a big WWII naval shell, huge thing. As we passed it he kicked it with his foot and said “We picked this one up a couple of days ago.” My mate said “So you’ve deactivated that one, then” and the EOD guy said “No, not yet.”
WTF I screwed up. I will experiment elsewhere until I get it right.
Don’t mention chocolate. I cannot touch the stuff unlit I lose a quarter of my current weight.
I was referring to ‘c******** instead of potatoes’, Martin’s metaphor for archaeology vs occupations with some ‘practical utility’ (or in the case of David Reich’s book, what is revealed about human origins by genetics). But OK, I won’t. Promise. Been there myself.
I did that once – when I was in my thirties I decided I was getting way too fat in the guts and getting worse. I lost 20 kg in 6 months, my waist shrank by more than 15cm, and I had to buy all new trousers. What I did was, I did lap swimming every night after work and before dinner, I got up to a mile of freestyle every night (which gets seriously boring, so much so that my brain used to shut off and I would be swimming on automatic pilot – but it burns energy like you wouldn’t believe). and then I could eat as much as I liked, as long as I ate nothing which had any added sugar in it (and no alcohol obviously).
One thing I can tell you is that if you go for 6 months consuming no sugar at all, except for the bit you get in fresh fruit, when you taste something with sugar in it again, it still looks good and smells good, but it tastes like shit.
So, if you can stay off that poison for long enough, not eating it becomes self-perpetuating because it tastes awful. But actually finding any processed food with no added sugar (often now in the form of corn syrup) is really difficult. So I ended up eating just fresh stuff, which is no bad thing.
Confirming neanderthals were not so different.
” Compassion helped Neanderthals to survive, new study reveals” https://phys.org/news/2018-03-compassion-neanderthals-survive-reveals.html
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(Testing. Holds breath)
Re-posted, with simple link:
This is the kind of stuff muslim scholars in the eleventh century would have been delighted to investigate, but nowadays anyone who questions the perfection of the text is considered a heretic. “99.99999997% of all Muslims have Never Seen This [Dr. James White]” http://bit.ly/2A8YjKL
Now I am off, looking for more on Scandy archaeology.
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I learned a little bit of HTML back in the day, so the way I usually link is as follows: (a href=”url”)Descriptive text(/a), where you copy and paste the URL between the quote marks, and replace the parentheses with angle brackets.
Advantages: You don’t clutter up the page with a long URL, and you get to provide a relevant description of whatever it is you are linking to.
Disadvantages: It’s easy to rickroll somebody that way.
“Looking for more on Scandy archaeology” is code for “I’m definitely not going to get some more c********.”
“Elusive venomous mammal ” https://phys.org/news/2018-03-elusive-venomous-mammal-genome-club.html
This placental mammal branched off from the rest 78 million years ago, when there were still dinosaurs. Not relevant to other topics here, but rather cool.
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Slow lorises are venomous. Also, male platypuses have venomous spurs on their legs. Venomous mammals make for a short but interesting list.
“The average American working woman earns only about 8o% of what the average American working man earns — but young, unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities make 8-20% more than their male peers.”
Interesting. Points to some conclusions which are obvious, e.g. marriage/burden of home duties and child-rearing cost women a lot career-wise.