May Pieces Of My Mind #1

magnolia

Magnolia, Boat Hill, Fisksätra

  • Why is it so hard for Swedes to learn that there’s an S on the verb when he-she-it does stuff?
  • Now is the month of maying / When merry lads are playing / Each with his bonny lass / Upon the greeny grass
  • Wonder if Robert E. Howard would have enjoyed heavy metal.
  • Marking these national tests is like counting up the final score in Agricola or 7 Wonders. 50 times. Without getting to play the games.
  • Dad lunch: unattractive contents of four plastic boxes from fridge combined.
  • A hangover is just acetaldehyde poisoning after the ethanol has been processed. Wonder if you can get an instant hangover by drinking acetaldehyde.
  • Archaeologists, quit writing that you “recovered” stuff that you’ve found. You never saw it before, let alone owned it. You can recover your lost cell phone.
  • Refugee settlement should be distributed across the EU by GDP, not by the member countries’ population size.
  • Cure fans! Listen to Josh Rouse’s “Feeling No Pain”!
  • I seem to be employable. I keep getting employed!
  • Swedish universities are rigging their recruitment to make sure favoured internal candidates get jobs, according to Sweden’s leading university union. Over half of all job ads are published less than 21 days before the application deadline. Over a third of advertised positions meet with only a single application.
  • Over-designed rules: the national tests in English have a mechanism to dock points from students with excellent vocab and very poor spelling. Such students are extremely rare. Brings me back to reading 80s role-playing game rules.
sakura

Cherry blossom, Stocksund

 

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189 thoughts on “May Pieces Of My Mind #1

  1. “That Was Easy: How China Bought Trump”
    https://bit.ly/2Go72b9
    -I do not begrudge the Chinese getting more business, but it is surprising that the sanctions -imposed because of trade with Iran- are lifted just when Trump is “getting tough” on Iran! Also, surprising that the *American* president is working to improve conditions for a *Chinese* company.
    But no one is corrupt. I know that is true, because Trump said he would drain the swamp.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ZTE admitted that they had passed American technology on to the North Koreans and Iranians, in direct contravention of what they had undertaken not to do, and they were penalised by America for that transgression, and ZTE promptly went out of business. But with that came the realisations that (1) ZTE were very big consumers of American tech products, so that had an immediate and large adverse impact on America, and (2) big job losses in China, which Xi Jinping made a personal appeal to Trump about. So, now Trump has moved to enable ZTE to get back in business, on strict condition that in future they would abide by the undertaking not to transgress again in future.

    That’s pretty much all I know about that, except that the ‘trade war’ talk seems to have gone quiet for the time being.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Pity. On a related note, I have a ZTE phone. I’ve found it to be very reliable, and other people I know also like their ZTEs. I bought my phone through Telstra, and a couple of days ago they sent me an apologetic note saying they could no longer supply ZTE phones. Only a small glitch in the greater scheme of things, I suppose, but this is the first time the Presidential Clown’s buggerising around has affected me personally. I don’t like it.

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  3. 99 Luftballons (and comments).

    Re. Trump, you should always choose the most damning interpretation of events. It saves time.
    I want the British to rise to the challenge and deliver some political scandal for a bit of variety. Boris, get off your ass and say something stupid.

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    • Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has developed what he calls Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation that fits the facts is likely to be correct. So far, it has worked pretty well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • In the particular case, I disagree. My interpretation is that he has listened to Xi because he regards him as a ‘friend’ and a ‘good man’, and Xi has given him a personal assurance that he will punish ZTE management himself if they transgress again (and everyone in China is in no doubt about what that would mean), so then Trump has done the U-turn that he’s done, because Xi has explained to him how much ZTE going out of business has directly adversely impacted on American exports, because ZTE were big consumers of American components and totally reliant on them. Xi has interceded, not because he has any reason the be beholden to ZTE management, but because it has put a very large number of Chinese workers out of a job.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with the Chinese ‘buying’ Trump, that’s horse shit from American opinionators who understand nothing about Xi. He has a very long history of loathing any form of corruption and fighting it, going all the way back to the early 1980s, all well documented. There are very solid reasons why he has been elevated as high as he has, and that is surely a big part of it.

      So, this is not about Trump, it’s about Xi. American opinionators just won’t get that because they are only capable of seeing the world through an American lens. The world is all about America. It’s all they know and understand.

      But I doubt Trump will learn any general lessons from this, do his homework in future and take more carefully considered actions. It’s not in his nature.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lead pollution recorded in Greenland ice indicates European emissions tracked plagues, wars, and imperial expansion during antiquity.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/05/08/1721818115

    The Greenland ice cores are obviously not news, but what is news is that they are now teasing much more fine grained detail out of them, with very precise dating so they can correlate the levels of lead emissions with historical events. One thing that fascinates me is that, coincident with the Antonine Plague (which might have been two plagues of different diseases close together), lead emissions plunged *and never recovered*. So, mark that spot, people who are interested in the decline and fall of the Western Empire. The legions were badly hit, so poor old Marcus Aurelius was pushing shit uphill trying to hold back the Germanic tribes from that point.

    I would love to read the whole paper, but I’m not paying US$10 for it. If I needed it for my money paying job I would, but not just to feed my hobby reading. I have other hobbies/activities, and regrettably finite disposable income.

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  5. At some point, the annual ice layers become blurred. I wonder if statistical methods coupled with even more precise measuring technologies can push the resolution even further, so we can date the exact year for very old eruptions, connecting the data with “floating” dendrochronology sequences.

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  6. For the Roman era they can now get 12 readings/year. They subtract out background levels due to natural dust and volcanic emissions.

    Meanwhile, I hear Yanny, not Laurel. Seems like on Twitter people who hear Yanny are getting hate from people who hear Laurel (in America anyway, where there seems to be any amount of hate to go around). Stephen King hears Yanny. Ellen DeGeneris hears Laurel.
    I apologize for my undamaged hearing and good quality headphones.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-16/laurel-or-yanny-what-you-hear-could-depend-on-hearing-loss/9768478
    Those sneaky schoolkids, using high pitched ringtones on their phones that their teachers can’t hear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. I only hear “laurel”, and if the low frequencies are removed all I hear is a birdlike “cheep”. But then I know I have high frequency hearing loss from working in the aircraft industry, so no surprise there.

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      • What can be blamed on Trump is that teachers used to be able to deduct the money thus spent from their taxable income. Starting in 2018, that is no longer true.

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      • Not remotely surprised.

        On average they are spending over $400/year of their own money; in some cases $1,000. On a primary or kindergarten teacher’s salary, that’s not small.

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  7. Bolton is the wrecker of the Korean peace process. Trump took full personal credit for the change of attitude by Kim (my suspicious mind thinks it had more to do with the collapse of their nuclear testing site, making it unusable, and what Chinese scientists told the North Koreans about that – the timing is at least suggestive), which angered the North Koreans, and now that hateful, stupid fool Bolton has torpedoed the whole thing by suggesting a “Libya” approach. Just how stupid can Trump + Bolton be? Libya? Seriously?

    Angry now. I was very concerned when Trump appointed Bolton, and now my worst fears are being realized – or even worse than worst.

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  8. Science May 17th: First whole-genome sequencing of ancient human DNA reveals three major wawes of migrations in south-east asia. Ca. 45000 years ago hunter-gatherers arrived. Neoluthic farmers spread from present-day China and a bronze-age migration came out of the same region. The relatively late arrival of agriculture in many areas means the populations have not had as much time to mix as in Europe resulting in greater diversity.

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  9. The documentary “The Dawn of Mammals” (Youtube) has a lot of input from Chinese paleontologists, due to the excellent fossil sites in the northeast.

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  10. Trump rebuts Bolton on “Libya solution”, but then tries to blame Xi for sudden change of stance by North Korea; says Kim’s more recent visit to meet Xi is suspiciously close (two weeks ago), ignoring the fact that the furious North Korean response instantly followed Bolton’s idiotic public outburst.

    This is the man Trump describes as: “President Xi – friend of mine, great guy.”

    Have people forgotten the videos of Gaddafi getting a bayonet shoved up his arse and Hillary Clinton cackling: “We came. We Saw. He died.” ??? You can bet Kim hasn’t.

    I’m afraid rebutting Bolton now won’t cut it – that horse has left the barn.

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    • Statements of that form are, however, reliable indicators that the speaker is not to be trusted. He (and it almost always is a he) is in effect saying that he would be an evil person if $DEITY were not watching him.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I had that thought. People who have strong inbuilt moral compasses seem to have no problem with the idea that they are innate and derived from the way that humans have evolved.

        And yes, males.

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  11. WTF, Trump doubles down on Bolton’s statement.
    Essentially “de-arm and de-nuke or we will destroy you” which is of course a brilliant strategy for getting a nuclear power to give up its nukes. Is this man actually capable of tying his own shoelaces?

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    • Modern genetic diversity in SE Asia even more than suggested because of South Asian admixture in some populations which is pretty old. Reich must surely know about that, it’s no secret.

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  12. One of Daughter’s moronic former schoolmates commented: “Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning to stop apologising for my wild.”

    Daughter replied: “One day, you will learn how to apologise for your grammar.”

    LMAO. That’s my girl.

    Liked by 2 people

      • You would be amazed how long it took me to realise that “Jrette” is not actually your daughter’s name. For the first couple of years I assumed it was a traditional Swedish woman’s name…

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      • LOL!!!

        Martin has stated her name here at least a couple of times in the past and I remember it (it’s memorable), but it’s not for me to reveal, here or anywhere else.

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      • Haha, yeah, Jrette is named Signe, a Swedish version of Old Norse Signy from the Völsunga Saga. It means “Victory New”. My son’s name is Samuel. And then we fostered my wife’s nephew Eric, Cousin E, for one year.

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      • You would need to be living under a rock not to know that since the Golden State Killer was finally identified and arrested, a moral panic broke out in the USA over the method the police had used to zero in on him. They took a DNA sample that had been preserved from one of the murder scenes, created a fake person to match the sample, created an account with GEDMatch, which is a publicly available service which people use to track down other people who are related to them by matching DNA, created a family tree, and that enabled them to narrow down their search for him. Having identified him as a likely suspect, they then secretly obtained a sample of his DNA, from a discarded disposable coffee cup or whatever, compared it to a DNA sample from one of the murder scenes and it was a perfect match. So then they knew they had their man.

        This was a new thing for the police in America, something they had never tried before, and a good piece of detective work. But they were years behind the curve. Genetic genealogists have been doing this for years. Google a seemingly fairly ordinary (misleadingly so – when it comes to this stuff she’s as sharp as a tack) American woman named Roberta Estes – she is very skilled and practised at doing this, helping people to track down relatives, build their family trees, and identifying birth parents for adoptees who want to reconnect with them (even if the parents don’t want to be found). Roberta is not the only person doing this, by a long way. It has reached massive craze proportions in the USA. She reported on her genetic genealogy blog that she recently went to a national convention of people who are into this, and it was too impossibly crowded for her to get into the presentations that she wanted to hear. She’s late middle age, overweight and doesn’t look like she runs 5 miles every morning before breakfast, and the whole exercise with impossibly long queues for everything was too arduous. (But reportedly the saving graces were that there was a Starbucks in the lobby of her hotel, and someone was doing New Age-y type face painting for people. That counts as satire with me, but evidently not for Roberta. Not that I’m trying to satirise her; I admire how good she is at what she does, but some things just satirise themselves.)

        The thing to understand is that when you get genotyped by a direct to consumer company like Ancestry or 23andMe, they keep your data confidential (unless they are served with a subpoena legally compelling them to release it to a law enforcement agency, in which case they don’t have a choice), but they also let you download your own raw data file. GEDMatch is open to the public, so if you then enter your data into GEDMatch, in effect you are publishing your own data, which can obviously then be used to identify you. That is the whole point. But it does a lot more than that – it helps to identify even your third and fourth cousins. With literally millions of people in the USA doing this, rapidly increasing all the time, it provides a very effective database for police to use. Since the Golden State Killer case made the headlines, other murders have already been solved this way. Part of the moral panic is whether it is legal, ethical, blah blah blah. Point 1: it is very clearly not illegal in any way. That your fourth cousins might not be happy about you ‘outing’ them genetically in public is hard cheese. It is what it is. Welcome to Gattica.

        As Ms Estes made a point of saying, it is futile for people to suffer moral panic – in her words “that cow has already left the barn”. Like it or not, it has already happened. Further, she said that genetic genealogists make use of a lot of other information that people put online about themselves, particularly on Facebook, and things like LinkedIn; GEDMatch is just a part of all of the personal information people out online that genealogists search through to piece together family trees and connect people. CCTV cameras are everywhere, and drones, and ever person carries a smartphone capable of taking high resolution stills and videos without permission. She also made the very telling point that genetic matching has recently proven the innocence of quite a lot of people previously convicted of crimes they didn’t commit and got them released from prison, so there’s a very positive side to this that should be welcomed.

        People can panic all they like about this – the genie is out of the bottle, and no one can get it to go back in again. Welcome to the brave new world of ultra-surveillance and public visibility. We have been here for a while.

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    • Nailed it!!! Well, that took a while.

      Ever since 1999, I have been trying to identify a species of bird, just from its very loud, penetrating call which carries over long distances, especially at night when everything is quiet. I can date when I started on this quest because in 1999, we moved to a new flat close to a densely vegetated hillside, and some bird calling loudly kept me awake every night when I was trying to get to sleep. At first I thought it must be something nocturnal, but I have heard them often since, and they have the weird habit of calling at all odd times of the day and night, and go on calling repeatedly for a very long time. They are almost impossible to spot, because they have drab plumage that serves as good camouflage, and they only call while sitting amongst dense foliage in trees.

      Daughter complained to me yesterday that lately a bird has been waking her up at night by calling loudly and repeatedly. I was sitting downstairs this morning, and one of these things started calling in a tree next to me, and I managed to spot it, and then began hunting through ornithological stuff to identify what I saw when I got back from the office, and I’ve just found it.

      It’s this thing:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_hawk-cuckoo

      Doesn’t help to get the thing to shut up at night, but at least we finally know what to blame. That only took 19 years. This one only started disturbing the peace recently because they only call during summer; they remain silent in winter.

      But there’s another problem – I didn’t spot just one of them this morning, there were two; a pair.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. During summer, you can gauge how well birds see in near-darkness by how early they start singing at dawn. It is an advantage to start singing before rivals, but they do not give away their position before they can spot approaching danger in the shady light conditions.

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    • Bloody Large Hawk-Cuckoos are perfectly capable of starting up at 2.00 am!!! Or midday. Or any time. Never known any other bird to do that. Nocturnal birds at night, yes, but no nocturnal bird I have ever heard is anywhere near as loud as these things.

      In Western Australia, the Western Magpies start up when it is getting towards dawn but while it is still pitch dark, and they are pretty loud. That can get fairly irritating, but I have never encountered a bird capable of driving you mad like this one can.

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      • Some birds get confused by street lights, and this has been hapening for decades, hence the Paul MaCartney song with the lyric ‘Blackbird singing in the dead of night’

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  14. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/these-asian-hunter-gatherers-may-have-been-first-people-domesticate-horses

    Botai culture people domesticated horses. But the horses they domesticated were not ancestral to modern domesticated horses, so horses were domesticated at least twice in different locations at different times by people of different cultures. Not too surprising. It looks like the Botai people were the first to do it.

    It has been determined only very recently that Przewalski’s horse, which was previously thought to be the last remaining wild horse, is actually descended from horses domesticated by the Botai culture people.

    Lately it has seemed like all Yamnaya all the time (but that picture is starting to look rather more complicated than people thought – almost mind-bendingly complicated). Nice to know more about the unrelated Botai people.

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  15. So, the last wild horse (or at least thought to be) (as opposed to feral horses descended from domesticates) was the Tarpan, which effectively became extinct during the 19th Century. Disheartening.

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    • In theory, the bone DNA of that horse should not yet have decayed. And since extant horses are close relatives a mare might bring a “synthetic” foal to term.
      No such luck with the talycine, who lack extant relatives.
      – – –
      The giant sloth of south america has extant relatives, but they are not very close.

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      • There’s really no point in breeding one copy of any extinct animal, even if that was feasible. You would need to produce enough to maintain a stable breeding population, which means you would need a suitable environment for them to live in. I guess that in future it will be possible to bring back extinct animals, and not just hybrids or “back bred” copies. But what if you could bring back the Tarpan, the Mammoth or even the Neanderthal? We have enough trouble keeping current species alive – the Northern White Rhino became functionally extinct in March, for example – so how could we manage with large animals whose needs and behaviour are largely unknown?
        I believe we should (if feasible) bring back the Dodo (small enough to keep in captivity), the Thylacine (its environment largely still exists) and some other smaller animals that could survive in protected environments. But it’s going to be hard enough to hang on to what we still have, in the face of population growth, global warming and natural resource depletion.
        Having said that, I’d love to be able to talk with a recreated Neanderthal, just to see what it would be like. Unfortunately, I think it would be unethical to inflict our civilisation on our closest relative.

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  16. If you search Youtube for “Madsen M1896 Flaadens” you will find a kind of steampunk automatic rifle, a very early semi-automatic rifle. The company later used the same mechanism for a machine gun that remained in production for half a century.
    The mechanism maybe worked better with a heavy weapon that better can absorb the vibrations from “short recoil”.
    – – – –
    The WWI Farquar-Hill rifle did not suffer from vibrations, but was much too hard to reload in a muddy trench without getting dirt in the mechanism. Everyone made do with things invented in the 1890s because there was no time for proper research and development.

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  17. BBC trolls Trump’s low turnout inauguration with photos of royal wedding crowd*.
    * finally a use of monarchy I can approve of. But if they can create X-men royal mutants that can do the mythical stuff attributed to “the true king”, I would get behind that.

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  18. Moar almost-steampunk:
    Surely, someone had been thinking about all-terrain vehicle technology that went beyond “just use very big wheels” before the 20th century?
    The WWI German artillery tractors used to pull the “dicke Bertha” siege mortars looked like grotesquely oversized modern tractors, with an early diesel at front, and very, very big wheels at the rear, with the tractor driver very high up, between them.
    The first tracked vehicles I know of were the first machines by the Caterpillar company (giving rise to the Swedish term “larvfötter”), but surely the idea of a vehicle propelled atop its own conveyor belt must pre-date the 20th century?

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  19. Erratum: The name “Caterpillar” only arrived in 1925, before that it was the Holt company, which pioneered steam-powered tracked machines. Such tractors used on the West Front directly inspired tank design.
    Scott intended to use early tracked machines in the Antarctic, but first-generation tractors could not cope with the climate.
    Wikipedia shows quite a few inventors were trying out the idea (for instance, after the Crimean War) but steam-powered vehicles were not reliable enough until some traction engines arrived just as they were made obsolete by the internal combustion engine.
    But the technology for making tanks existed before WWI, it was just a matter of reliability and of putting different components together.

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    • When I was an undergrad and getting work experience during one vacation, I got to learn how to drive a Caterpillar D8, which is a monster of terrifying power. Massive dozer blade on the front, and a big, nasty hook on the back for ripping rock. They weigh 36 metric tonnes. Once I got used to the truly scary amount of power, I never wanted to get off the thing.

      Not content with that, Caterpillar make a D11 – too big and heavy for road construction, they are used in mining. They weigh 104.5 metric tonnes. Driving one of those must be a real trip. Shipping them and moving them around to different sites is a problem – they need to be partially taken apart and moved in pieces.

      I did that stuff at the Caterpillar dealership. I got to learn to drive all of their machines, and then they let us loose on a new road construction job to see how much damage we could do. Answer: a lot. That was fun.

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  20. Hm, I see Harry combined beard and uniform. No big deal in Sweden, but Sandhurst and West Point fundamentalists probably went Grandpa Simpson.

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    • British army took to growing facial hair in Afghanistan in an effort to try to blend in better with the locals. Harry served there twice – his first tour was cut short when an Australian magazine published his presence and whereabouts, turning him into a bullet magnet, but he went back later and did another full tour.

      So, that suggests that the standard has been relaxed for pragmatic reasons. Previously, facial hair was permitted for soldiers suffering from skin sensitivity – possible, and even sensible as a protective measure, for a redhead, esp. in environments with high solar radiation like Afghanistan.

      Had a big chunk carved out of my face last Thursday, as one of several rewards I have received for growing up in a region that gets enough solar radiation to roast a goat. So, can’t copy Martin and cultivate Victorian era side-whiskers any more – one side would have a big gap in it.

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      • Should be. They won’t be calling me Pretty Boy any more, but hopefully he has taken enough out this time. Wear your scars with pride, I say.

        That was his second go at me. First time the pathology showed that he didn’t allow enough ‘safe margin’, either in width or in depth, and I don’t fancy going through it a third time – the local anaesthetic didn’t work very well. But what can you do when you’re there with a guy with a scalpel stuck in your face? Just try to relax, let the pain and the horrible cutting feeling flow through you and get through it. Then your face turns numb half an hour after it’s over – very helpful.

        If it does need a third go, I think he will want to send me to a surgeon – just too big for him to do at his clinic. He offered to do that this time, but I couldn’t be bothered. I’m hoping it won’t get to that. The pathology will reveal all. Chance is remote, so I’m not agonising about it.

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  21. I have been waiting with anticipation for the made-in-Australia zombie movie Cargo to come out on Netflix. Watched it last night. Verdict – disappointing. You assemble a mostly good enough cast, including an enthusiastic mob of Aboriginal people, cart everything out to the outback of South Australia with some stunning scenery on offer – well, they could and should have done a lot more than they did with what they had to work with. Still worth a look, but it’s mediocre at best and could have been just so much more.

    I agree with this critique – it’s pretty spot-on:
    https://theconversation.com/the-australian-zombie-horror-cargo-is-burdened-by-its-own-gravitas-96786

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  22. Peter Turchin on the Greenland ice cores – correlation shows very vividly how dramatic the rise of the Roman Republic was, the coming of Sulla and his conflict with Marius, and the resulting plunge that enabled Julius Caesar to become a dictator, plus enough detail during the first Century CE to show the impact of people like Caligula and Nero, and the intervening spike under Claudius:

    http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/history-is-now-a-quantitative-science/

    I find quantitative history very illuminating.

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  23. It annoys me when people keep referring to Constantine as the first Christian emperor.

    No he bloody wasn’t. He remained a practising pagan his whole life, and *allegedly* was baptised only when he was on his deathbed (so, something like: “Shit, I’m dying – I better make sure I have all the bases covered”; such deathbed conversions are not uncommon, and also dying people suddenly becoming more religious), but even that is disputed – some historians say there is absolutely no evidence that he was ever baptised.

    What he did do was that he and Licinius both declared that Christians should be tolerated and free to follow whatever religion they wanted, i.e. it seems like maybe it was a pragmatic political decision, to maybe avoid religious schisms in the military or whatever.

    But after Constantine, it was mostly the Christians who got to write the history (and maybe burn the stuff they didn’t like), and we know how that goes.

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  24. Actually what they declared was that it was “proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best.” As a schoolboy I got taught Roman history by Anglicans, so they conveniently missed out the “all others” part.

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  25. John, my dad died of malign melanoma that was removed too late. I really hope you got rid of it all.

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    • Sorry to hear that – I had a good friend at work after I graduated, really nice young guy, bright and universally liked, who got a melanoma on his head when he was 26, and died of brain cancer within a couple of weeks of it being diagnosed. He had red hair and very fair skin. One of my female cousins, also a redhead, was diagnosed with melanoma when she was 19, fortunately early enough, but they had to take a really big chunk out of her leg, and she was severely psychologically affected by it. I just recently met up with her in April, and she still talks about it, decades later – it had a lasting mental impact on her.

      My redheaded father got heaps of skin cancers, but none of them was a melanoma. The occurrence of melanoma is actually pretty rare compared to other forms of skin cancer, which are much more common.

      The thing I had cut out on this occasion wasn’t a melanoma. It was a basal cell carcinoma. They are very slow growing and much less invasive than melanomas, so there’s ample time to treat them, provided you do get them looked at and diagnosed. I’m awake to this, having had skin cancers a few times, and pre-cancerous things more often, plus my father’s history with skin cancers, so I’m vigilant and get anything that seems suspicious checked out by a skin specialist.

      One of the weird things about skin cancers is that they don’t necessarily always grow on the most sun-exposed parts of the body. The other weird thing is that they usually occur later in life due to excessive exposure and skin damage that has occurred during earlier life. Melanomas don’t follow this pattern, they can occur at any age.

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    • So I have this weird dichotomy. When I go to see skin specialists in Australia, they say my skin is “good” because they are used to seeing the skin of people of European ancestry who have grown up in Australia. When I see skin specialists in HK, they say my skin is “bad” because they are used to seeing Chinese people, who get skin cancer very much less, partly because their skin is a lot more resilient (even those who are equally as pale skinned as northern Europeans) and partly because they have a much more sensible attitude to sun exposure (almost to the point of being paranoid about it). But I need to watch it because the skin specialists in HK are much less used to seeing patients with skin cancers, very much less, so they tend to be less skilled at spotting them just by inspection.

      I no longer fly back to Australia every year like I used to when my parents were alive, nothing to go back for, so I don’t see a skin specialist there every year like I used to. The Chinese guy I see now in HK errs on the side of caution with me, almost to the point of paranoia, and if in any doubt at all he deals with it, either by cryotherapy or surgery (cryotherapy for the pre-cancerous things and surgery for anything he thinks has progressed to becoming a carcinoma – he was trained in the UK, so he knows what to look for, he just doesn’t see it very often). In this case, the pathology showed his paranoia was justified. He did get it all out the first time, pretty sure, but the pathology showed that some of the margins were only 0.5mm, which is too close for comfort, so now he’s taken a much bigger lump out of me. The pathology will show if that bigger lump has any cancer cells in it; if it does, I will need to have even more cut out – he thinks that’s very unlikely, but he’s playing safe.

      Second time he said: “I can’t be concerned about the cosmetic effects of this. I said: “Don’t worry about it. I’m not a movie star.” Him: “You look like a movie star to me.” Makes me laugh – I’m used to this – all Chinese people, all of them, think I am the spitting image of Bruce Willis. Strange Chinese women keep smiling at me in the street all the time – I don’t mind that at all, but their eyes are deceiving them. No one else thinks I look even remotely like Bruce Willis. That’s because I don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I watched Die Hard, I had the thought that I was possibly among a minority of viewers who knew exactly where that came from. The number of Google searches for it seems to confirm that. I have a lot of very clear memories from my very early childhood (I mean really early, like when I was 2 and younger), most of them unpleasant ones, and hearing Big Crosby on the radio singing a vapid 1930s song qualified for the unpleasant category.

        When I was 3 years old I was a big Slim Whitman fan. No one’s perfect. (He got a resurgence of interest after the hilarious movie Mars Attacks came out – the humans found the secret weapon needed to destroy the Martians was to play a Slim Whitman record through loud speakers; yep, that will destroy most things.)

        To my credit, I detested Johnny Ray.
        https://bit.ly/2rz0jEX See what I mean?

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      • On reflection, reminded by good ole Slim, I think Bruce Willis’ one-liner from Die Hard is more likely to have come from the song Ghost Riders in the Sky, which contains the exact phrase: yippee-ki-yay, is suitably sinister and less anachronistic. Another blast from my very early childhood.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. This whole “falling asleep” business has been usurped by worrying about Gaza, the Rohingya, Brexit, the Swedish election and The Donald. And the sun refuses to set far enough under the horizon to grant darkness. On the plus side, the hedgehogs and other small animals have pleasant room-temperature conditions as they rush around in search of food before sunrise.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. (Yawn) Another week, another scandal. “NYT: Trump, Jr. Met With Gulf Officials Offering Help to Get Trump Elected” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/05/21/nyt-trump-jr-met-with-gulf-officials-offering-help-to-get-trump-elected/
    Middle East policy for sale. Investing in Trump projects must be a very cost-effective way to alter the policies of the world’s biggest (for now) economy. I wonder if we can crowdsource an effort to outbid the toxic influence of the Saudis et al…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem is that it would likely involve “investing” in one of Trump’s business ventures, usually but not always some overly ambitious real estate project. Trump’s historical practice has been to overload the business with debt, declare bankruptcy, and leave the “investors” holding the bag. If you are a sovereign country, you might get something valuable enough to you to be worth writing off your “investment”. If you are an ordinary citizen, not so much.

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  28. China satellite heralds first mission to far side of Moon https://phys.org/news/2018-05-china-satellite-heralds-mission-dark.html For obvious reasons, a relay satellite is needed to operate space probes on the far side of the moon, which has therefore never had a visitor from Earth. I would add that the Aitken-South pole basin on the far side contains material from the deeper layers of the lunar crust excavated by a giant impact. A sample return mission there will be like drilling Deep down into the moon.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Jeezfuckinbloodyeejitbastard. The Donald wants to basically impose regime-changing sanctions on Iran. What could possibly go wrong?
    – – –
    I had intended to post links to a few more science articles, but all energy just leaked away.

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  30. Five Scandinavian prime ministers are spending two days visiting Docksta, the childhood home of the Swedish PM, Löfven. They took the ferry over to Ulvön, to test the various kinds of surströmming from the local canneries.
    – –
    I have been reading up on the details of ALS research done here in Umeå, but it is rather technical, with genes identified with long strings of letters and digits. But now the pharma companies will hopefully know which gene products to substitute, at least for the genes with the strongest correlation to the disease.

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