March Pieces Of My Mind #3

Pråm

The white two-storey structure is a barge in whose classrooms I often teach.

  • The rise of right-wing populism and the election of so many complete crooks and morons worldwide to public office really rams home the point that there is no good system of governance. Just a less bad one.
  • A new version of Facebook Messenger just asked me if I wanted to continue as Martin Rundkvist. The sun is shining. I’ve had a nice lunch. I have a loving family, and I need to drive Jrette early to school tomorrow for a skiing trip. I clicked yes.
  • Facebook’s Android app keeps reading my phone book, identifying my contacts and suggesting them as Fb friends. Creepy.
  • Been offered an extension of my temp teacher contract, which in effect probably means the rest of the spring semester with the same classes, and a small raise. Got enthusiastic responses from students when I told them they’re stuck with me. Paid off my half of the renovation costs for Jrette’s teen boudoir after half a year of instalments. Won a bottle of prosecco at the staff raffle, which my wife will enjoy.
  • Did a vote canvassing roleplaying exercise the other night. Dude, they did not know who they were asking to role-play.
  • Free of debt and on a generous full-time salary for the first time since 2002. Largely voluntary hardship, but hey, woo-hoo anyway!
  • I’ve got a new thing going and I’d like to have some quick responses to test the waters. Here’s my pitch. I’m the son of an ancient storm god who created the universe and forced out all other gods. I’m here on Earth to tell you all about a new agreement between humankind and the Supreme Being that will give everyone an escape from death into everlasting bliss. Pretty cool, huh? How do you like it? Are you in?
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135 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind #3

    • Perskovite materials have made PV materials much cheaper, and the efficiency is catching up with silica-based PV.
      I might add, if GM plus bioreators can convert biomass to biodiesel, butanol and other biofuels at a cost that is competitive with petroleum fuels, those options may be better than electric cars (although next-generation batteries will probably make electric cars competitive with conventional cars before cheap biofuels arrive).

      Liked by 2 people

  1. W hen I researched NRA and American gun enthusiasts, I got sidetracked by all the stuff going “Bang!”. Here is one video I found:
    An American manufacturer tried to copy an excellent Warszaw Pact weapon, the VZ Skorpion, and ended up with this. The video speaks for itself.
    Armitage international Skorpion Scarab https://bit.ly/2JsUSAD

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  2. This video is fun to watch, but the implifications are terrifying. Everybody knows that a suppressor (“silencer”) wears out after a few rounds of full auto, right?
    They are putting more than 2000 rounds of .22 –at full auto- through a gun with a modern (mono-core) suppressor.
    “Ultimate AR-22 meltdown” https://bit.ly/2Hfpl48
    Granted, the .22 round does not heat up the metal as much as a proper, human-killing 9mm round. But if 2000 .22 translates to “several hundred 9mm rounds at full auto” without destroying the suppressor, it is great news for gangsters and Putin, and no one else.

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  3. OT
    The Swedish Academy (which hands out the literature Nobels) is having a big crisis, after a person closely associated with the academy (and married to a member) was accused of sexual harrassment by 18 women.
    The academy has split in two factions about wether the one married to the offender should have to leave.

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    • Pardon my naivete, but what is the issue with the alleged offender’s spouse remaining in the Academy? Barring the alleged offender makes sense, but unless they are accusing the spouse of complicity, why are some of them taking it out on the spouse?

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      • It is difficult to know details considering the secrecy, but a bunch of lawyers who investigated the mess found questionable ethical practices (a cover-up? )

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  4. Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t help it. I suppose the alleged world’s happiest country might be currently just fractionally less happy.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-09/demolition-of-silo-in-denmark-goes-wrong/9632542

    But while I think of it – never go out to watch an explosive demolition of a building. There is no such thing as zero risk, and people who do this stuff have been known to make serious errors – shouldn’t happen, but does. While I am at it, I could say the same thing about public fireworks displays – my preference would be to just ban them completely, and all sales of ‘consumer’ fireworks (illegal in HK anyway, but not in e.g. the UK – the annual casualty list in the UK due to fireworks makes for sobering reading). The USA? Hell, those folks have got firearms coming out of their ears, so why worry about some fireworks? (But I happen to know that legislation in California concerning public fireworks displays is stringent and notably risk averse – pretty ironic, considering.)

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  5. If pigs are haram, why has not Jutland sunk into the sea? Maybe the old iron-age gods of the North (who would have regarded the boar as a noble animal, see all the aristo families with a boar in the heraldic symbol) ar stronger than the new-fangled gods from the Levant.
    — — — — — —
    Shocker! Birth Control Access Reduces Abortions http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/04/08/shocker-birth-control-access-reduces-abortions/#disqus_thread (least surprising news ever)

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  6. Pigs are delicious. And pork fat is good for you, much healthier than sheep or beef fat.

    Favourite pork dish: Hakka pork belly stewed with pickled vegetables.
    Second favourite dish: Shanghainese braised pork belly.

    Second series of Jessica Jones on Netflix turned out to be diabolically bad – all of the weaknesses of the first series and none of the good parts.

    Now watching Netflix series on Troy. Started really badly, the first episode was tedious in the extreme, but it’s starting to improve a bit, now that Achilles has shown up. Things always look up fun-wise when Achilles is around.

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    • There is a risk of trichinosis from eating undercooked pork. It’s a definite problem in places where one tends to roast whole animals, as is frequently done in the Middle East and Mediterranean. The risk is much lower in places where the meat is cut into bite-sized pieces before cooking, as is generally the case in eastern Asia.

      The Jews had a much longer list of dietary restrictions, with many more animals to be avoided and oddities such as a prohibition on mixing meat and dairy products (e.g., there is no such thing as a kosher cheeseburger). The Muslims ditched all of that except the pork prohibition, and added a rule against drinking wine (the latter rule is usually interpreted as applying to all alcoholic beverages–some Muslim countries allow beer consumption, but most do not).

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    • There is one thing about pork, though – unlike beef, which is better hung and aged, pork needs to be eaten fresh. It spoils quickly, and eating spoiled pork can kill you.

      If you have some pork in your refrigerator, and it gets a rainbow coloured sheen on it, throw it away, because that means it is no longer safe to eat.

      To me, Chinese beef dishes are uniformly awful and I won’t eat them; they always insist that meat should be very fresh, and are repulsed by the idea of ageing it, which they equate to eating rotten meat. When it comes to pork, they are right about that, but traditional Chinese cooks just don’t understand that beef is different.

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  7. The Himba people who hang out in the Namibian desert are interesting people. The women coat their skin with a mixture of animal fat and red clay. They also rub the stuff into their hair, which they plait into strange elaborate hairdos. Their ‘dancing’ looks like aimless stumbling around and losing their balance. And they never wash, so they probably smell a bit more than interesting.

    It turns out genetic data show they have extra-pair paternity rate of 50%. Even more interesting than I thought before.

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  8. BTW, has Britain already left the customs union of EU?
    I got three bills from the mail charging me for (unidentified) parcels, and the only foreign shop I have used is British Amazon.

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    • Are the finger bones of different homo sapiens variants so different that they can distinguish between them? We know archaic homo sapiens have been outside Africa for ages. When reading between the lines, I get the impression they think it is an anatomically modern homo sapiens, which -if true- is a big discovery considering the age.

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    • No, the confusion arises because they are classifying Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans as separate species, so Homo neanderthalensis vs Homo sapiens (so they’re splitters, not lumpers – their prerogative). They are distinguishing between the finger bone morphologies of archaic humans (in this case Neanderthals) and anatomically modern humans, and saying this fossilised finger bone is definitely from an anatomically modern human.

      Razib has a summary piece up which is a useful reference:
      https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2018/04/09/arabia-as-africa-across-the-sea/

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  9. Medieval stuff.
    “East Eurasian ancestry in the middle of Europe: genetic footprints of Steppe nomads in the genomes of Belarusian Lipka Tatars.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958967/

    On a different note, people keep referring to the early Steppe migrations into Europe as coming from Central Asia. No, the Pontic-Caspian Steppe is not in Central Asia. Folks at the Max Planck Institute need to do some work on their geography.

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  10. -A holdover from them reading history about the Mongol invasion in school, perhaps -any steppe nomads must be scary asians! I agree it is sloppy terminology.

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  11. It is getting warm by daytime, but we still get the dry winter air blowing in, sucking up the water from the meltwater puddles in no time at all. Practical.

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  12. There’s a growing trend in Japan of elderly women deliberately committing petty crimes– hoping to get caught so that they’ll be sent to prison. This is because poverty among the elderly is so widespread that people actually choose to go to jail to get fed and clothed, https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-22/japan-so-broke-its-prisons-are-full-80-year-old-felons?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=idealmedia&utm_campaign=zerohedge.com&utm_term=68739&utm_content=2207544

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    • Some foreign students have been discovered living in an Australian university library that is open 24 hours/day (Nepalese and Indian, not rich kids just trying to get something for nothing). They have been reminded that when they are accepted into Australia to study, one of the preconditions is that they will have enough self-funding to be able to support themselves. It can be tough, though – Australian property prices and living expenses are through the roof, and greedy landlords absolutely gouge foreign students, who also pay tuition fees about 4x what local students pay. Any kind of accommodation within reasonable traveling distance of a university is simply unaffordable for all but the very wealthy (remembering that public transport in Oz is pretty crap, travel distances and times are very long, and finding a place to park a private car anywhere within walking distance to a university is near-impossible).

      If the Oz government wants to continue to regard education as a major export, and Oz universities continue to rely on the high tuition fees that foreign students pay because of ever-reducing government funding for tertiary education, but at the same time they want to piss off wealthy Mainland Chinese students by feeding them a constant China-bashing diatribe while denying them the right to disagree, then they really need to think this through. They can have their cake, or they can eat it. They need to choose, because what is happening now is not sustainable. Chinese government people have already started warning Mainland students to avoid going to Australia to study.

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      • John Ausonius slept in the Royal Technical College’s hallways for a time before he went on the multi-month racist shooting spree that earned him the name Laser Man. He was periodically in psych care too.

        Liked by 1 person

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