June Pieces Of My Mind #1

artefact

Found an enigmatic fragment of an artefact from a bygone age.

  • Dad bragging: my kids are both fully fluent in Swedish and English. Jr speaks serviceable Japanese and Jrette speaks Mandarin. Both also have a smattering of French. Dudes, marry smart ladies!
  • When you have a really bad cold, your nasal mucus membranes are open wounds. And you keep blowing the scabs out of your nose to be able to breathe. You’d never do this to your knee.
  • There’s a housing area nearby named Talliden. Probably named for the thallid fungal creatures in Magic the Gathering.
  • Each Kindle has an email address. You can send PDF and EPUB files to it and have them show up on the device. Convenient! But if you buy an ebook for someone at Amazon, do not use this address. Use the person’s address or it won’t work.
  • Received a used washing machine. Gave it a trial run in the yard. Realised that the transmission belt had jumped. It turned out to be too short to put back on the wheels. I had an idea and put it in hot water, then dried it off, and it slid into place just fine. But then I found that the hub was damaged and immobilised.
  • A memory. In the Swedish Outdoor Association’s youth group, we were often told to bring a stick of wood from home so collectively we would have enough firewood without having to collect it in the forest.
  • Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” was a B side and he was surprised when it became a hit.
  • It’s obvious, but still I’m surprised. In 2002 Sweden’s current Minister of Culture (Greens) published an interview book about the country’s crown princess.
  • Planning a night out for our 19th anniversary. Thanks to Sweden’s recently much more intense contact with Afghanistan, I was able to buy tickets for an Afghan trio playing traditional music in the venerable Finnish Church as part of the Early Music Festival, and then dinner at Little Kabul.
  • YES!!! I got funding to design & print my Medieval castles book, and to cover the last finds conservation bill!
  • OK ladies, I know you wonder where all the sexy alpha males are tonight. Let me tell you, they are playing boardgames at my place. And they are gorgeous. Mmm-hmm.
  • Why does “Japanese Boy” by Aneka suddenly and unpromptedly start playing in my head over a quarter-century later?
  • Love boating on lakes and rivers whose shores I’m familiar with only from dry land.
  • Yay summer, a walk in the woods and immediately a tick on my Balzac.
Advertisements

98 thoughts on “June Pieces Of My Mind #1

  1. Congratulations on your anniversary. Yay for the funding of the Medieval catles book and finds! Commiserations on the tick, bleeding arachnids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is Balzac a gonad-related euphemism ?
    Up here non-canids still move around under layers of textiles when outdoors, so ticks basically need bazookas to get at humans.
    -BTW I just learned there is a nearby forest fire potentially threatening one of the suburbs. We need rain.
    – – –
    Shit! (listening to the news). -There is one attack on a Swedish mosque every week, on average. I am no fan of islam, but the muslims here are no worse than any other congregations. The vandals are obviously encouraged by the rise of the xenophobe party.

    Like

  3. Yep, that’s where the kangaroo ticks like to attach themselves – actually right up behind the Balzac. They seem adapted to preying on two animals – kangaroos and humans. So if you shoot a kangaroo to supplement your larder, you need to check it carefully all over for ticks before you hoist it onto your shoulder to carry it home to skin and cut up, to give the dog her share to pay her for doing her part in helping with the hunt, and prepare the meat you plan to eat for breakfast the next day. (Unlike a lot of smaller marsupials, many of which are endangered, the large kangaroo species, the reds and greys, are in plague proportions and the governments pay professional shooters to cull them, so there is nothing wrong with hunting one for food – just make sure your first shot is a good one, so it doesn’t suffer. And obviously avoid shooting a female with young in its pouch.)

    Continuing on the greenhouse gas theme, kangaroos don’t fart. They can’t, they don’t have whatever the enzymes are that generate gas. (Someone on QI, I think it was either Sean Lock or Alan Davies, did a great job of mimicking some Australian guy saying: “We’ve been watching all these kangaroos for 200 years, and not one of them has farted yet.” Very funny.) And young adult kangaroo loin meat is very nice, like very lean, tender beef (the tail is where they store most of their fat, and that makes superb stews and soups, but rather fatty). So, aside from the fact that you can’t milk them (plus they are absolute buggers to try to keep fenced in, because they just go boing! straight over the top, or just break the fences down, and trying to round them up would be like trying to herd cats, only much worse), it would not be stupid to replace beef cattle herds with kangaroos.

    And camping out in the bush, never sleep under a tree – the kangaroos scratch themselves against trees to scrape off the ticks, which then perch on the trees waiting for another host animal to jump onto and attach themselves to. And their favourite location makes them bastards to remove, not to mention embarrassing – a common outcome is people pull the bodies off but leave the heads buried in them, which then turn septic.

    That alpha and beta male thing doesn’t actually happen in humans, but I guess you know that. The common myth peddled by a certain type of person is that women prefer to mate with the handsome, dangerous alpha types, but then marry the plodding, unexciting, faithful beta types because they are reliable providers, leaving them to support raising the alpha male’s kid. But that only happens in certain people’s fevered imaginations – real women don’t behave like that. Not most of them, anyway.

    In the general population, the rate of ‘false paternity’ is down around 1% or less, not only now, but also historically, going back as far as they can tell. (You see stories about how the false paternity rate is 10%, but that is only among males who have demanded paternity testing of kids because they think they have grounds to suspect the kids are not theirs – and even then, they are only right about it 10% of the time.) The reality is, human females generally are much more faithful, sensible and discriminating creatures than a lot of people seem to want to believe – they tend to go for male partners who they believe will make good fathers. But the 10% story just doesn’t seem to want to die – yet another example of people choosing to believe something because they want to believe it, despite the fact that the data tell them that they are simply not true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I remember an article by a very patient female science reporter which summarized some recent studies with male lead authors and concluded that it was almost as if women who have affairs are usually looking for something other than a man to give them babies 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • A friend of mine who is into genealogy points out that in almost all of the cases he has encountered where the offspring were not the biological children of the father, adultery was not involved. The main reason these things happened was that a woman’s first husband died young (a common occurrence prior to the 20th century), and when she remarried the second husband often (at least in the US) would adopt the first husband’s children. The mythical milkman is exactly that: a myth.

      Of course the cases where paternity is actually tested would be a biased sample. Accusations of infidelity usually (but not always) have some basis in reality. But that only means it’s plausible (until the test is performed) that some other man might be the father. It is not by itself reason to assume that the Other Man is the father.

      Like

      • Also, even if a woman has the long-term habit of sharing her husband’s bed 29 nights a month and her lover’s 1 night (which seems pretty common), then the husband will still be the bio-father of 29/30 of her children.

        Like

      • With now several million Americans having had themselves genotyped, a fair number of people get a shock to discover that their fathers are not their real fathers, and it seems it frequently, if not always, comes as just as much of a rude surprise to the fathers. The genomics companies who offer direct to consumer ancestry testing warn people that this can happen before they test them and send them the results, to prepare them for the possibility. But in % terms, the number is small, around 1%. But 1% of several million people is not a small absolute number.

        Like

  4. Somewhat odd-sounding paper abstract on gene editing for Birger to digest, as he seems to be interested in it. Saying that disproportionate attention is being paid to cancer and sickle cell disease comes across as a bit weird – so, researchers want to prevent things that kill large numbers of people; how perverse of them. Should read the paper, I suppose, but probably won’t.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/06/11/341198

    Like

    • But I did – USA and China are leading the pack by a very long way. (Distribution among other countries is kind of interesting.) Plus female lead researchers are under-represented, but they are not *very* under-represented.

      Like

      • Cancer kills a lot of people in places with a high average age. Live long enough and it is a race between cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Developing countries will have different demographics and slightly different patterns of mortality. But these countries will rarely have the infrastructure (mainly, funding) for this kind of research. BTW, (China suffers the consequences of bad air and tobacco. There must be some deadly synergy going on, but I don’t know how Chinese lung cancer statistics differ from compareable European countries). .

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t take much interest in psychometric testing and intelligence any more; I did for a while but got bored with it all. But this abstract is very tantalising – frustratingly, the paper is pay-walled.

    I guess everyone knows about the Flynn Effect, which refers to the fact that measured IQ scores have been steadily rising throughout the 20th Century, the trend being that each generation has on average been smarter than the preceding one. (So they have had to keep making the IQ tests more difficult to keep them ‘normalised’.) No one knew why, but one clue is that education has been found to increase measured IQ, possibly by making more neural links occur in the brain – thinking about difficult things and solving difficult problems is good for your brain, in performance terms. People being fluently bilingual seems to have a similar effect. But then, at least in some countries, including the USA, more recently the Flynn Effect has stopped happening, and has then reversed, which is both curious and a bit worrying, especially when you don’t know how to prevent people from getting dumber because you don’t know why it is happening.

    What they seem to be saying in this abstract is that this trend can be explained by within-family environmental factors (so, not genetic, and not environmental factors that affect different families differently). To say I am curious about what those might be is an understatement.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/06/05/1718793115.short?rss=1

    Like

    • One thing I have noticed in the US is an increasing attitude that Americans do not need to learn a second language. Rather, everybody else is expected to learn English, and to speak it with an American accent (RP is tolerated, other non-American accents less so). That may be part of the problem.

      I have encountered several foreign-born scientists who speak perfectly good English but get criticized by undergrads who are unwilling to make the effort to understand their non-US accents. East Asians are most likely to be called out unfairly for this, but South Asians and Europeans get some of this as well. In the US, unless you live in a big city or university town, you are likely to reach university age without ever encountering somebody who speaks with a non-US accent, other than possibly as comic relief characters in movies or TV shows. Then you find yourself in a place where many of the faculty come from non-Anglophone countries, especially if you go to a research university (which category includes almost all flagship state universities). It’s a handicap that can be overcome with some effort, but too many students are not willing to make the effort. It does sometimes happen that the teacher really hasn’t learned English well enough to be in front of a classroom, but that is a small minority of cases. Generally, they speak English better than most Americans (myself included) speak their native language, so as long as they know enough English to express themselves clearly (almost always the case, and the longer the person has been in the US, the more likely this is to be true), there should be no grounds for complaint.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I see a lot of Americans who can speak Mandarin, but I’m no doubt seeing a biased sample because the ones who learn Mandarin belong to the same subset as people who go to the Mainland and come here. I have seen a fair number of American students attending Mainland universities, presumably as exchange students, but again, no doubt the same applies. America has a very large population, and I have only been seeing a small subset.

      I recall listening to a radio programme in Oz in 2010 about learning of Asian languages in Australia, and the fact that it had been steadily dropping over the preceding 30 years (despite Australia’s two biggest trading partners being China and Japan, and its nearest neighbour being Indonesia).

      Like

      • You have indeed been seeing only a small subset of Americans, and a self-selecting one at that. Only about 7% of Americans even have passports, and of the ones who do, only about a third routinely engage in international travel. Obviously, interest in travel is correlated with interest in learning other languages.

        Many places in the US are more than 1000 km from the nearest place where English is not the dominant language. Australia shares that problem. So does Canada, but the existence of large Francophone areas in Canada (Quebec and parts of New Brunswick) and the concomitant status of French as an official language mitigate the problem there.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Multiple interbreeding events between modern humans and Neanderthals, with more involving people ancestral to East Asians than those ancestral to Europeans (so about 12% more admixture in East Asians than Europeans). But it seems possible that the additional admixture in East Asians could be misattributed to interbreeding with Neanderthals and could be due to interbreeding with Denisovans instead.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/06/11/343087

    Meanwhile, people are busily hunting through collections of archaic human remains to try to determine if some of the remains classified as Neanderthals are actually Denisovans. Seems possible, given that no one knows what Denisovans looked like.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You would need to be living under a rock not to have heard about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos by now (well, maybe that’s a bit unkind – depends which rock you live under, I suppose). In short, she persuaded people to invest US$9 billion in a ‘revolutionary’ new blood sampling technology that doesn’t work, was never going to work and never will work. People didn’t do their due diligence before throwing money at her. Those who prudently asked her for some solid evidence that it was going to work before giving her money just never received a reply from her.

    People she fooled include Joe Biden, former Vice Prez. She took him on a guided tour of her ‘lab’, which was an elaborate fake set-up, but which provided her with some wonderful photo opportunities with Joe looking impressed, which she then used to suck in more unwary investors. She made numerous false claims, including at one point that the technology was already being used by the US military, when it wasn’t.

    She is now facing criminal charges.

    Like

  8. Her error was “not belonging to the political class”. If you get there, any legal consequences for a well-connected grifter will be mild, or nonexistent. (and don’t get me started on Swedish arms export scandals).
    -John, is there any indication that she believed a real research breakthrough was coming if she got more time, or was it a swindle from day one?

    Like

    • What it seems like to me is that she originally had an idea that she thought was brilliant and would work, she just needed to persuade investors to give her enough money to make it work, and she continued to think she could make it work if she just kept throwing enough money at it, to the point where she just got in too deep to admit that it wasn’t working and was never going to, a bit like a gambler who keeps borrowing more money to try to win back what he has lost, instead of ever facing the reality that he is never going to win because the odds are stacked in favour of the house. So she had to maintain an increasingly elaborate false front to keep getting more money to throw at it in an increasingly desperate effort to at least make *something* out of her ‘brilliant’ idea.

      The whole story is weird; she seems somewhat unhinged. She idolised Steve Jobs and tried to emulate him, even to the point of copying the way he dressed. Her company sounds like a religious cult in some ways, but then it seems that a lot of Silicon Valley start-ups are a bit like that. There was some Svengali-like character as second in charge who would fire people for even suggesting that things weren’t working.

      I’ve been observing Elon Musk and the Tesla electric car company – it is becoming increasingly obvious that Tesla is just bad at making cars, bad at putting ‘the grand vision’ into practice, and that its targets for car production are unachievable. The big car companies like VW, Ford and many others who are accomplished and experienced at making cars are now heavily invested in electric car design and production, and will rapidly overtake Tesla with much more affordable electric cars that don’t have endless manufacturing faults requiring endless recalls. Investors are losing faith in the ‘brilliant oracle’ Musk and starting to walk away, and Musk is now sleeping in the office, doesn’t have time to take a shower, and is talking about large lay-offs of staff in the company in increasingly desperate efforts to keep the whole thing afloat. Qualitatively, the difference between Musk and Holmes is starting to look like one of degree, rather than a brilliant visionary on one hand and a delusional wannabe on the other.

      I see people commenting that the Holmes case is ‘sad’, and I can see why they think that. It is sad. She had a humanitarian vision that she really believed in.

      Like

  9. The Very Stable Genius has made a deal with the worst dictator in the world. I have read the comments in The Guardian The promises North Korea made do not mean what Trump thinks.
    Also, USA is pulling out of joint manouvers with its South Korean allies. This may be the worst deal since Munich.

    Like

  10. Researchers in Tokyo University have developed phase shifting technology that is good enough for 5G telephony.
    I don’t include a link, because , to quote film, I’m too old for this shit. Quantum? F*ck off !
    For all I know, my Samsung is as capable as the gadget Stevie Griffin uses to zap between dimensions, conterfactual time branches and for “straightforward” time travel, I just know the simplest apps.

    Like

  11. Singapore deal:
    Unlike deals in the 1990s and early 2000 -which North Korea naturally broke- there is no mechanism for checking if NK is actually complying. So Trump got even less.
    And the exact phrase used in the deal has in the past been used by NK to describe a complete denuclearisation of both Description
    Bestselling British master of science fiction Adrian Tchaikovsky brings readers a new, mind-expanding science fantasia in The Expert System’s Brother After an unfortunate accident, Handry is forced to *both*
    Koreas, including USA’s nuclear umbrella.

    Like

    • WHAT?! A bit of text from an old previous comment apparently got inserted in the last comment.
      The rubbish got inserted after “denuclearisation of both Koreas” by some bug.
      If this is a bug in my Samsung maybe it is a malware remnant.

      Like

    • Birger: Metternich himself could not persuade the North Koreans to give up their bombs. They saw what happened to Iran, Iraq, and Libya (and they survived a horrific conventional bombing campaign during the war). About the best we can hope for is that NK agrees to reduce its army and pull back its artillery from the border, since it now has a better deterrent … and the US would probably have to make similar concessions. Too bad that the current president does not like the State Department.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. OK, maybe I just need to shut down and restart this thing to avoid trouble.
    – – –
    Baylor college of medicine has found a way to block transcription factor STAT6, thus preventing asthma. It is a small thing, but the world deserves good news. Also, moderately hopeful news about immunotherapy to fight advanced breast cancer.
    – –
    The new Italian government is…emulating Trump? ? (hurries off to other news)

    Like

  13. Problem with ancestry testing is that it gives consumers the idea that there is some finite set of distinct population groups in the Platonic sense.

    I’ve been looking at comparative plots of the genetic distances between groups in Europe, East Asia and the Indian sub-continent. South Asia is not much different in size to Europe, excluding Russia, so ending at Ukraine. Compared to the genetic distances between groups like Bengalis, Gujaratis and Tamils, the distances between British, Spanish and Polish people are very small – closely related. Likewise the distances between Han, Koreans and Japanese are very small.

    If you reduce the scale of the plots so that you can fit in the genetic variation in subSaharan Africa, Europeans reduce to a single tight cluster, and likewise for East Asians, and the distances between South Asian groups look small.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Breaking: no Steppe ancestry in the Rakhigari samples. Exactly what should be expected – the ‘Aryan’ migration theory is that it happened after the Indus Valley Civilization. But people (who want to) are reading these results to mean that they disprove the theory. Oh well.

    Like

    • The Rakhigarhi samples date to 2500 to 2250 BCE. The demographic impact of the Indo-Aryan migration is posited to have occurred after 2000 BCE (accompanied by at least one chariot and some copper weapons).

      Apparently the issue that people are making is that a lot of archaeologists think there was continuity in material culture in the region *across* the putative time period of that demographic impact. Well, that’s possible. The demographic impact that the Indo-Aryan migration had was not a near-total population replacement. Continuity in material culture doesn’t demonstrate that the migration didn’t take place, and there is a lot of genetic evidence that it did.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It turns out the results have been delayed in coming out because the samples were contaminated in the Korean lab where they were prepared and tested.

        So they were scratching their heads about how the component of East Asian ancestry had got there, until the penny dropped. That would be funny if it wasn’t so dismal.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Famously (or infamously) unadmixed Australian Aboriginal people are the dumbest people on earth according to psychometric testing, with a mean IQ of 65.

      If a European person has an IQ that low, s/he is incapable of taking care of his/her own personal needs like cleaning and dressing her/himself, and going to the toilet without assistance, let along functioning in any sort of capacity in society. The US military will not admit any recruit with an IQ lower than 83, because they have found from experience that there is no useful function, none at all, that such a person is capable of performing in the military. Even just sweeping floors or whatever – they can’t do it without messing it up.

      The people in this video (many of whom are unadmixed to my eye, just by inspection) not only clearly understand that they are particularly susceptible to some medical afflictions and conditions, more so than the white population, they also understand why they are, and they are using a modern version of forms (song and dance) traditionally used to impart important knowledge to other members of their communities. It goes without saying that they are well able to take care of themselves, function in the world (at least in their world), and do the important job of reaching out to their communities to impart medical knowledge that is important for their health. Looking at them, you could argue that they are actually doing a better job of taking care of their own health than very many people in the white community (skinny, yes, but that is their ‘native’ condition – they are gracile people in their native state and living on their traditional diet). One of them is expertly administering an injection to a patient; not a task to entrust to an idiot.

      So, what does that tell you about psychometric testing?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thing is, they are *our* abstract symbols, concepts and systems. They have their own abstract symbols which are totally baffling and impenetrable to me. I am not trying to pretend that they have some mystical ‘other way of knowing’, and that if I could just crack the code, hitherto hidden secrets of the universe would be revealed to me; that’s not the case.

        But modern psychometric tests are culture-specific; basically, modern Western scientific tradition, the stuff that people need to do well in the modern developed world. IQ scores tell you how well someone is likely to do in this environment. Put a high IQ person into their environment, trying to survive with their technology, and he will really struggle.

        The tough part for them is that their world has gone, mostly, and they need to adapt to the modern developed world, or live abject, miserable lives on the fringes of modern civilization or in awful, dysfunctional, deprived remote communities where they lack all kinds of basic services like modern health care. Some ‘benign’ form of Apartheid is just not on, at least I don’t think it is. Aboriginal education is a very difficult problem that no one has cracked yet, and it is not for want of a lot of very well intentioned people trying really hard to make it work – the kids keep up with the rest in primary school, they do OK, provided they keep turning up to school, but after that things generally tend to go downhill pretty fast. But if they understand that they are genetically adapted to a hunter-gatherer diet, and have low resistance to diseases which are not problems for the white community, or not such severe problems, and it seems like this mob do understand that, then it surely can’t be hopeless.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. No good deed goes unpunished. It took me thirty years to realise the ability to say “no” is almost as important as breathing. When I forget that, I pay with stress, insomnia and the whole list of symptoms.
    And once you have “burned out” there is no guarantee you will bounce back all the way. I know several people who can no longer do a full-time job.
    And that does not include those with back pain and other “mechanical” issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the concerns I have with the peer review system is that this is one of its failure modes. There is typically no explicit reward for doing peer review. Instead you have what economists would call a perverse incentive: if you do a good job of it people tend to give you more, whereas if it becomes known that you are bad at it, your “punishment” is that you are no longer asked to do it. In a world where time and resources are finite, you have to count on most people being sufficiently altruistic to participate in the system.

      This is particularly an issue with proposal reviews in the hard sciences, because in many cases the people most qualified to review the proposals are the people who are proposing to the program (which NASA administrators tell me is the one way to guarantee that you will not be asked to be on the panel). In many cases NASA has to bring in panelists from outside the US, because they cannot get enough qualified non-conflicted reviewers from US institutions.

      Like

    • The response to the ‘anti-Chinese racism’ in the ‘Einstein diaries’ has been kind of interesting.

      In the West, people have evinced shock that such a great genius and ‘humanitarian’ (in fact, he had lots of failings, one being that he was virulently misogynist) could be guilty of such a thing.

      Meanwhile, the reaction on Chinese social media has been: “Well, he was right – in the 1920s, which is when he went to China, China was in a real mess and very backward, and Chinese people then were the way he described them.” Not offended by it at all; just saw it as him describing accurately what he saw.

      Like

  16. Lessons in construction project coordination:

    There are three routes by which I can walk from [point at the edge of campus nearest my house] to [the building where my office is located]. Two of these paths have been blocked by construction projects for the last four weeks. This morning, I found that the third path was also blocked, forcing me to take a rather lengthy detour.

    I get that the university people prefer that construction happens during the summer, when most students are not around (many of these projects cannot be done during winter break because the ground is usually frozen at that time of year). But there are students who take classes or do research in the summer, and many faculty (including most of the faculty I know) are around during the summer as well. So people have to be able to get from point A to point B all summer long. Blocking off all possible walking routes through the center of campus is a really bad idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “Also, even if a woman has the long-term habit of sharing her husband’s bed 29 nights a month and her lover’s 1 night (which seems pretty common), then the husband will still be the bio-father of 29/30 of her children.”

    Most women know when they are fertile, and there is some evidence that they tend to look elsewhere on such days.

    Like

    • For the avoidance of doubt, Kinsey has been hugely discredited in just about everything he said. He was a fraud on a similar scale to Sigmund Freud and his daughter, who was an absolute basket case.

      The anthropologist Margaret Mead was someone else who was very influential in her day, but who has also been totally discredited. She was a ‘free love’ advocate from way back, and projected her own personal preferences onto the populations of people she ‘studied’, and of course produced ‘findings’ that fitted nicely with her own view of the way humans should live – and those populations are deeply unhappy with the way she, as they see it, slandered them disgracefully. They keep having to fight a never ending campaign to tell people that Mead wrote a pack of outright fabrications and lies about them.

      If you base what you know on reading Freud, Freud’s daughter, Kinsey and Mead, you are going to have some seriously messed up ideas about things. Unless of course you are totally convinced that 1/6 of all American men do have sex with chickens, despite the total absence of evidence that it happens.

      Like

      • “If you base what you know on reading Freud, Freud’s daughter, Kinsey and Mead, you are going to have some seriously messed up ideas about things.”

        Heard of them all, not read any of them, not basing my claim on them, didn’t mention chickens.

        Like

      • I was just giving them as examples of people who some other people quote as ‘evidence’, to illustrate the point that a lot of ‘evidence’ is self-evidently bizarre nonsense.

        Meanwhile, I note you have not given the source for the ‘some evidence’ that you claimed. Should I wait for that, or…? I guess not.

        Like

  18. A politician* who got North Korea to cooperate with USA about the retrieval of bodies of missing US soldiers from the Korean war (a good achievement) needlessly lied, saying that during the election campaign a lot of parents had begged him to bring back the bodies of their children.

    Stephen Colbert made some rapid calculations, noting that those alleged parents must be at least 101 years old.
    * yes, that guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s an interesting thing about habitual liars – they continue to lie, even in situations where they don’t have to. I’ve never been able to understand why.

      Like

  19. So The Wheel of Time is going to be a TV series?
    The books were often good, but not without flaws. For instance, feudal societies were not nice, which is a thing Game of Thrones got right. And after umpteen books, I started rooting for the baddies to get on with the apocalypse.
    – – –
    The Brit government and parliament is going through some particularly severe convulsions right now.
    – –
    Stephen Hawking has been buried today, near Isaac Newton.

    Like

  20. I thought mosuqitos carrying the malaria parasite live all over the world, but maybe conditions favouring them are particularly common in Africa.
    – – –
    InRange publish a lot of “mud test” videos on Youtube, subjecting various weapons to conditions simulating WWI trenches.
    It is interesting how any openings eventually will render weapons useless and needing an overhaul.
    Portable weapons were simply not very reliable, so captured ground often had to be abandoned.
    The static nature of WWI had several causes.
    Interestingly, Winchester lever-action guns (used by Russia) were more reliable than ordinary rifles. This is because they only presented openings where dirt could enter at the moment they where fired. One wonders if a different choice of standard rifles would have broken the stalemate before the advent of tanks.

    Like

    • No matter how reliable one’s rifles are, it’s always a bad idea to make fixed-bayonet charges against entrenched machine guns. The main benefit of the tank was that it provided a mobile shield for ground troops that could bridge trenches, rendering fixed machine gun posts less effective.

      Like

    • I had an 1894 Winchester 0.44 lever action carbine, inherited from my father; very heavy copper jacketed snub nosed lead bullet and black powder charge that gave low muzzle velocity; very useful for props in cowboy movies and hitting the side of a barn if you were lucky, but not much else. But high knock-down power, so possibly useful as defence against a charging bull at very close range. I dunno, I never got the chance to try it for that, and it was absolutely no use for anything else. I finally sold it to a collector, who probably shone it up and used it as an ornament. The lever action was very much faster and smoother than any bolt action rifle I ever used, including WWI and WWII vintage Lee Enfield 0.303, but they were very much more accurate over very much longer distances.

      Current debate going on in Australia over whether to permit import/licensing of French very fast reloading lever action 12 gauge shotguns.

      The idea on the Somme was that the week-long non-stop artillery barrage would destroy German barbed wire and entrenched German machine gun positions, and then the Allied soldiers could just walk across no-man’s land smoking their tobacco pipes and take the German positions. We all know how that worked out.

      Like

  21. It’s complicated. You knew it would be, right? Widespread in tropical and subtropical areas, tends to be more in poor rural areas. But it was recorded as being a major problem in Imperial Rome. Five species of the Plasmodium genus are known to infect (infest?) humans, but most fatalities are caused by P. falciparam. Spread by numerous mosuqito species of the Anopheles genus. Used to be in HK, also southern Europe. 90% of cases and fatalities occur in Africa, so it often gets characterized as an ‘African problem’ but it is also a problem in SE Asia (where it made a comeback after DDT was banned, but mosuqitoes were also developing resistance to DDT), also Latin America and is big in Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands. The parasites have also developed resistance to some anti-malaria drugs. The genetic adaptation in Africans that gives some protection to heterozygotes, but causes sickle cell disease in homozygotes, also occurs in some southern Europeans. You tend not to hear about that, because the most you read about is sickle cell in African-American kids. Because America is all of the world that matters.

    Likely to get worse with climate change, but unpredictable.

    The jury is still out on whether Rachel Carson was indirectly to blame for the deaths of millions of children from malaria because of DDT being banned when it was. Last I saw, that battle was still raging, but it’s been a while since I read much about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All Rachel Carson did was point out a serious problem – that the consequences of using DDT were likely to be greater than the consequences of not using it. That is not to trivialise the problems of malaria. It was one of those situations that could have become “in order to save the village we had to destroy it”. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

      Like

    • Infant dolphins (Souza chinensis) washed up in HK waters have been found to have died from DDT poisoning – it gets concentrated in the mother’s milk. This is very recent. It’s hard to tell whether this is DDT residual from past use, or whether Chinese farmers up the Pearl River are still using it illegally.

      Like

    • Malaria used to be an issue in the eastern US too, at least as far north as Washington, DC. It was eradicated in the US in the first half of the 20th century, but the possibility of a comeback is definitely a concern.

      Tropical countries with high-altitude capitals are definitely concerned about the spread of malaria as well. Nairobi has historically not had issues with malaria, but that is starting to become a problem. Quito and Bogotá are at even higher altitude, so they aren’t worried about it yet, but it may become an issue there in some of the more extreme climate change scenarios. La Paz is probably high enough not to worry about malaria, but they will have other problems: their water source is a glacier that is likely to melt.

      Like

  22. Most days I just tolerate and swallow people’s implicit racist biases, but today is not one of them. When you have a mixed family, there is nowhere on earth you can go where you don’t strike this endlessly. There is nowhere on earth my daughter can go where she is just regarded and treated as another normal human. I’m not talking about individuals, but about people en masse. I’m not talking about explicit displays of racism, but implicit biases and assumptions. People disgust me with their stupidity, and I mean all people everywhere. No one is immune from this shit.

    Today it’s probably a good thing that I have no weapons of mass destruction at my disposal. I’m beginning to side with the eco-loonies who think the world would be a lot better off with a massive reduction in the global human population, because humans suck.

    Like

    • A new population genomics blog by someone called Chad Rolfsen: https://populationgenomics.blog/

      So far he has looked at early Anatolian farmers, and early European farmers. Should be of interest to Europeans, because virtually all Europeans alive today derive substantial ancestry from those people. Unless people are really not interested in where they came from.

      Like

      • He keeps a close eye on the relevant archaeology too, so…

        It has taken a while, I guess, but population geneticists do now seem to have got the message that they need to pay a lot of attention to the archaeology, and preferably work in a multi-discipline synergystic way with archaeologists, which can only be a good thing. David Reich has certainly got that message, and routinely includes archaeologists in his research teams – I think he said something along the lines of “Ignore archaeologists at your peril”. In my own field, I have been a strong advocate of inter-disciplinary working because I have seen the power of the synergy that happens when people do that.

        Like

  23. http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/neandertals/neandertal-dna/africa-into-neandertal-mtdna-introgression-hawks-2018.html

    Bit of a nothing post by John Hawks, except he points to something odd, which is that there are much greater morphological differences between Neanderthals and modern humans, than there are between different sub-species of chimpanzees, despite being much closer genetically. I suspect the answer is adaptation, which can result in quite distinct morphological differences even among modern humans. For example, Inuit have shorter arms and legs and stockier bodies than other modern humans who are not as cold-adapted, despite being very closely related genetically compared to the genetic differences between different chimpanzee sub-species, which all live in very similar environments and climate conditions. Inuit can also survive perfectly healthily on a marine diet very high in saturated fats from eating marine mammals (seals, cetaceans), and virtually no vegetables, fruit or sources of carbohydrates at all, a diet that would do most people absolutely no good at all.

    Like

    • I’m something of a Frida Kahlo fan. She had an awful and pain-filled life, but was a great character and a great artist. But I can’t be doing with all of this obsessive overly analytical crap that arts types go in for. Note to arts types: I do not need your bizarre, pissy, obsessively overly analytical mental madness. She was a real human, she was what she was, she had a real and pretty awful life in many respects, which she dealt with in some pretty admirable ways, and she did what she did, and produced some really great art. Is that not enough? I have a functioning brain, I can work things out for myself.

      http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180615-unlocking-the-hidden-life-of-frida-kahlo

      Like

  24. Woken this morning by insects. If it’s not the cuckoos, it’s the cicadas. All started up at once as if by a pre-arranged signal (I assume that’s the air temperature), and the noise was really loud.

    Sitting outside, I was visited by a Japanese wagtail; pretty, perky little bird – came right up close and had a good look at me, seemingly totally unafraid. Native to Japan and Korea, but they occur as ‘vagrants’ in eastern China. I see them quite a bit, so I doubt this one was a caged bird that had escaped or had been released. Wikipedia says “It breeds near human habitation in hilly countryside. It prefers the water’s edge on gravelly rivers, ponds, and inland lakes.” So, the area where we live is perfect habitat for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The wagtail sounds very much like the pied wagtails we get here, cheerful looking and cheeky. They used to visit the quad at my school, a place reserved for staff and sixth formers, but not much used except on the loveliest of days. However the presence or absence of humans seemed to make little difference to the wagtails, they just got on with scouring the lawns regardless.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As a small child, I loved the wagtails that frequented our garden – cheeky, cheerful looking little birds not shy of humans (but I don’t see those listed among the species in Wikipedia, so that list is not comprehensive). I was thrilled to discover a different species of wagtail in HK, exhibiting very similar behaviour. So, I’m not totally convinced that I am seeing Japanese wagtails here – could be another species they don’t have on their list, but they look very similar.

      So I’m off cuckoos finally and off on an elusive wagtail hunt.

      Like

    • Apparently that’s because the “willie wagtail” in Australia is unrelated to the Eurasian wagtails, and is classed with the fantails. Remarkably similar in looks and behaviour of other wagtails, if that’s the case. So that solves the mystery of why the willie wagtails in Australia are not listed as wagtails. (The Gunwinggu people of western Arnhem Land call them “djigirridjdjigirridj” – I think I’ll stick to the English name.)

      So now I need to get to the bottom of the wagtails I see in HK. Given my track record on the cuckoo, this could take a while.

      Like

      • Definitely not! But looking at the grey wagtail and the yellow wagtail I think that the nominative colour refers to just the colour of the ‘stomach’ of the bird.

        Like

  25. Daughter’s bi-polar Anglo-Australian friend just called in to say that she has been discharged from the psychiatric hospital she got herself committed to, and thanking Daughter and Wife for visiting her multiple times ‘inside’. She was admitted in a very bad way, but a few days of observation and they got her on the right medication, and she’s snapped back to ‘normal’ very fast.

    It’s turning out to be a very good day.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. So, initially, humans migrated into the Indian sub-continent. They were hunter-gatherers, and are what geneticists called Ancestral South Indians (because their genes are most strongly represented now in southern India) – the ASI no longer exist in unadmixed form, but the least admixed people with the most ASI ancestry are the Indian ‘tribals’.

    Then, Iranian farmers migrated in and mixed with the ASI, and they developed the Harrappan culture and the Indus Valley Civilization. They are thought to be the originators of the Dravidian family of languages.

    Then, when the Indus Valley Civilization was in decline, or had already collapsed, the so-called Indo-Aryans (people who carried ancestry from the Pontic Caspian Steppe) migrated in via a migration route through Central Asia, and they introduced Indo-European languages, from which Sanskrit derived.

    Previously, the Iranian farmers and Indo-Aryans were lumped together as Ancestral North Indians, when no one had yet figured out where they came from, bu ANI has now dropped out of use.

    Hindu nationalists (or at least the right wing branch) have no objection to the Iranian farmers. They’re OK. They’re fine, no problem. What they object to, and argue against, is the Indo-Aryan speakers – they claim that the ‘Steppe’ ancestry identified in that group was actually derived in India and migrated out of the subcontinent going in the opposite direction – to where, they don’t say, know or care. Question is – why? It seems the reason is that they find it objectionable that ‘Europeans’ (the Pontic-Caspian Steppe is in ‘Europe’ rather than ‘Asia’) were responsible for Sanskrit and much of ancient Indian culture. So, it”s a hangover from the British colonization of India.

    At least, boiling it all down, that is what it seems to be basically all about. The fact that those Steppe people were not ‘Europeans’ in any modern sense, given that modern Europeans derive only part of their ancestry from those people, to differing degrees, doesn’t seem to be factored into this.

    I have no dog in the fight and absolutely don’t care. But it all seems to generate a lot more heat than light.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So their disapproval of the most parsimonous* explanation is based on the steppe peoples coming from north-west, roughly the same direction (but a completely different region) as the European colonial powers 3000 years later?
      Is there any subtle argument I am missing?
      *no spell check.

      Like

  27. The text below is satire …but not bloody far from the truth?

    “It is necessary to cage migrant children plus we like it, explains White House http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/it-is-necessary-to-cage-migrant-children-plus-we-like-it-explains-white-house-20180619174402
    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “Strict border control is necessary for homeland security, which is why we must detain immigrant children in prison-like conditions away from family members. Also, caging kids is just the sort of thing we like doing.
    “We are absolutely wretched bastards who seem human decency as weakness, and perhaps unsurprisingly have a strong sadistic streak.
    “Once I cried and black tears came out. Actual black tears. My soul was leaking out of my eyes and it was like warm oil.”
    She added: “I was going to add some stuff about Jesus and the Bible, but I can’t be bothered because some clever-clever fucker would only point out that ‘Jesus was an immigrant’.
    “Yes he was. We’d put him in a cage too, then say ‘how you like them apples Jesus’ and laugh. “Anyway enjoy your day.”

    Like

  28. North of the Black Sea, the boundary between Europe and Asia becomes somewhat arbitrary. So I could see how somebody from south or east Asia might think of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe as being European. But other than the nationalistic political implications, I don’t see any advantages to the Out of India theory. It implies that people originally from present-day India eventually (but before the Renaissance era when direct communication between India and Europe became common) reached the Atlantic Ocean, a notion for which I am not aware of any evidence. The Pontic-Caspian origin is easier to explain: some of them went south and southeast into Iran and India, while others went west into Europe.

    The whole point of the lumping of languages into the Indo-European family was to explain why Sanskrit, spoken by a people who had had little or no direct contact with Europeans (Alexander’s expedition was the only known direct contact prior to the arrival of Portuguese sailors in India; there had been indirect contact via Persia/Iran and Arabian traders), was so similar to Latin and Greek, and to a lesser extent English. Dravidian influence on Indo-European languages, at least those spoken west of Iran, is limited to a few loan words at most.

    Like

  29. I did mention a little while ago that one environmental factor known to increase intelligence is education, which to me is something very hopeful. It looks like this nails it.
    How Much Does Education Improve Intelligence? A Meta-Analysis.
    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797618774253# (Abstract only.)

    Long story short, each year of education can add 1 to 5 points to IQ. That’s a lot, if you consider how many years most people spend in education. Depends on what they study of course – you could spend your life studying certain things I won’t name and come out of that as dumb as a brick, but believing you are brilliant. There are some of those around.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s