September Pieces Of My Mind #2

Bjälbopalatset

Palace of the Bjälbo Kings, Vadstena, 1260s.

  • My chain franchise of weed shops is going to be named Jazz Tobacconist.
  • I spotted a guy I went to school with the other day. Thought to myself “Dude looks silly with that bald top and fringe”. It took until yesterday before I realised that I also have a bald top and fringe.
  • Early autumn, aspen leaves glowing gold at sunrise.
  • Came up with an analogy. Digging out culture layers from a ruin to study the walls is like finding Ötzi and putting him on an anthill because you want to study his skeleton.
  • Oh ye who go about saying unto each: “Hello sailor”: Dost thou know the magnitude of thy sin before the gods?
  • Feeling a little better about the election results now that it looks like the Social Democrat Prime Minister will be able to stay in office. And now that I’ve learned that we gained a few percentile points in my housing area where I did so much canvassing.
  • A memory. There was this slightly odd and often unintentionally entertaining dude on the BBS forums I used to call in the late 80s. He once had a total rage meltdown because he found it so annoying to have to put a semicolon at the end of every line of Pascal code.
  • Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). Everyday guy in heavily stylised cartoonish world can’t decide which unrealistically attractive girl to doink and gets into lots of Hong Kong action fights. Grade: OK.
  • Roy Zimmerman has a new album out! Good tunes with incisively funny satirical lyrics, largely about 45.
  • A UK university advertises an MSc programme in Current Archaeology with a big photo of a person using a total station / EDM surveying instrument. The photographer has held the camera tilted one or two degrees to the left. This is painfully obvious because a total station has a spirit level at the base and has to be almost exactly vertical to work. It is very far from vertical on the page.
  • Jrette shows me a pic of her friend’s dad who has shaved his beard in a joking style for a fancy dress party. In my style, actually. Hrmpf!
  • During St. Bridget’s years in Rome, Queen Joan I of Naples gave her a Turkish slave girl as a present. This woman later entered Vadstena convent and lived there as a nun under the name Katarina Magnussadotter until she died in 1414.
  • Mad Duke Magnus, brother of three Swedish 16th century kings, rests under a monument of respectable size near the site of the most prestigious altar in Vadstena Abbey. Despite abducting and raping a number of the last few nuns during the convent’s waning years.
kaprifol

Honeysuckle, such a sweet smell

lusthus

Majelden-Tannefors, Linköping

 

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58 thoughts on “September Pieces Of My Mind #2

  1. John, check out this!
    Science 29 june, Vol 360 issue 6396
    -Hazard rateds for the extremely old was derived from all inhabitants of Italy aged 105 and older between 2009 and 2015, a total of 3836 documented cases. “[we observed] level hazard curves, which were essentially constant beyond the age of 105”…..”provide the best evidence to date for the existence of extreme-age mortality plateaus in humans.”
    .
    -My comment: So naked mole rats are not the only species with level hazard curves for mortality.
    If we sequence the genomes of the extremely old, it should be possible to do data mining to find genetic similarities, locating the genes that make the level hazard curves at extreme age possible, as distinct from genes that affect mortality at more normal ages.

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    • Wife to me: “We have a duty to our daughter not to live too long, so that we do not become a burden to her.” No argument from me. Daughter would disagree if we told her that, so we didn’t.

      I assume the new rules apply, which means we should still be posting random OT stuff on the Open Thread.

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  2. Mad duke Magnus has plenty of contemporary imitators.
    Anyone who says “boys will be boys” should be exiled to…, I dunno, some hellhole in the Bible Belt.
    – – – – –
    “so that we do not become a burden to her.”
    -Keywords: “healthy ageing” . -Genetically modified people of the future will still not live longer than the oldest of today( ca 110?), but they will be healthy, and average lifespan will rise. Expect retirement age to be less rigid. And with reduced cases of dementia or cancer, the burden on families will be considerably less.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Honeysuckle, such a sweet smell”
    Jasmine is currently in bloom at my place, giving the area a much better smell than the traditional flying fox pee. The jasmine tends to blanket everything it can reach, which is a nuisance, but the bees love it and the scent is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The traditional flying fox pee”.
    You got me at “traditional”. Wanna bet we can package and sell the stuff at Goop, once you have told Gwyneth Paltrow it is a traditional cure for baldness?

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    • Yes! Considering the nonsense she already promotes, it would have to be a winner 🙂
      I should also mention that the male flying foxes pee on themselves to attract the ladies; so if we market it as an aphrodisiac baldness cure we can also move into the Traditional Chinese Medicine market. We’ll be rich! And once we get courses on the stuff included in universities, we’ll also be legit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m perfectly capable of pissing on myself without any assistance from Gwyneth Paltrow, thank you very much.

      Just watched The Avengers: Infinity War. Assessment: Don’t watch it, it’s crap. Gwyneth Paltrow appears in it for about 5 seconds, for which she gets star billing, naturally. There’s an obvious reason they limited her exposure in the film – she has not aged at all well since her last film outing – in the ongoing saga, she has become married to Robert Downey Jr aka Ironman, but now looks like his grandmother. They should have thought that one through a lot sooner.

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    • To give my comment some context, Emmanuel Macron’s wife, who is 24 years older than he is (making her 64), looks a hell of a lot better preserved in real life than Paltrow does in a movie, and Paltrow is only 45. Robert Downey Jr is 53, but also looks much better preserved than Paltrow, despite his history of drug and alcohol addictions.

      Either Brigitte Trogneux and Downey Jr both got much better genes than Paltrow, or Paltrow’s Goop ‘lifestyle’ crap is definitely crap worth avoiding – probably a combination of the two.

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      • Funny you should mention that. Some time back I read a report on a Goop conference, where the same point was brought up. Whatever Gwyneth is doing, it ain’t working – she is aging faster than she should, and it may be the Goop lifestyle that’s doing it. Terribly sad, really. Or it would be if she wasn’t selling her crap to other people.

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      • Yeah, she really does look a lot older than she should for her age. I think her colouring and skin probably don’t help, plus maybe too much sun exposure in her younger years, but even so. She’s an awful advertisement for the nonsense she tries to peddle. But maybe her jade vaginal eggs (I don’t even want to think about what those things are supposed to be for) have kept invisible parts of her in fine shape – wouldn’t know and don’t want to.

        The latest Avengers film was really quite pointed – she was on the screen for literally no more than 5 seconds or so, and for most of that time, her face was shielded or partly shielded from the camera. I couldn’t see a point in putting her in it at all, except for pandering to her fan base, I guess. Her prominence in the end credits was laughable. I doubt they will be able to use her in the next one (and we are threatened that there will be at least one more, although I predict it will be even more unwatchable than this one was) – but if they decide they need to kill her off, this film gave them the perfect mechanism for doing that, given that they bumped off 50% of all of the major characters from the Avengers + Guardians of the Galaxy in this one – plus there was one Avenger who didn’t even show up; they’ve obviously decided to cut him out of it; he didn’t even get mentioned, just not there. They didn’t show Paltrow disintegrating in this one the way the others did (which was a pity because I might actually have enjoyed that), but they can simply make reference in the next film to the fact that she didn’t make it, if they decide she is just too haggard and weather beaten to be usable by then.

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      • I still occasionally read Orac’s blog, and in the past year he has raked Goop over the coals several times. The stuff Goop sells is useless at best, and some of it actually is harmful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Patriarchy! Interfering with protected vampires sucking blood.

        Yes, I would expect Orac to get stuck in to that load of bare faced quackery, blatant dishonesty, stupidity and blood sucking. Glad to hear he hasn’t disappointed.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “It is very far from vertical on the page.”

    I have an acquaintance who is a really outstanding photographer, his photographs are technically perfect, plus his composition is excellent when his mojo is working, but he doesn’t do it professionally because there is no money in it any more. He has done the occasional fashion shoot in the past, but he can’t earn a living from it.

    One of his basic rules is get your verticals vertical and horizontals horizontal. He means perfectly. Seems simple enough, but needs concentration, and it’s very noticeable how many people fail on that.

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    • Or you could do what I do – use the built in levelling lines to get within cooee, then get it the way i want it on the computer screen. I almost always zoom, crop and rotate to get the right picture.

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      • I find cropping is not good for composition – I need to compose the photograph the way I want it when I take it, and not crop. This guy I know who is really a very good photographer (Swiss Chinese, of all things – his father works for Nestlé) says he never crops, and I understand why.

        So, yes, you can adjust the verticals when you edit the photo, but that way you lose some of the original composition. What I’ve found with editing is that it will make a good photo better, but it can’t turn a bad photo into a good one.

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  6. Through 20 years of editorial work, I have often been amazed at how poorly framed (i.e. cropped) people’s photographs are. They want to show you something, and the picture they send has this thing occupying the middle 1/9 of the frame with the rest just empty space. It’s particularly obvious with shots of archaeological finds taken on a blank tabletop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a very common failing – people just shoot the thing they want to show in the middle of the frame, without thought for scale or composition.

      What you see in almost all of people’s photos who don’t know the basics of photography is that they put the subject in the middle of the frame, and pay no attention to what is in the rest of the frame. Another basic rule of photography – “the rule of thirds.” Can look it up – simple concept, but a lot of people just don’t know about it. It makes a very big difference to the composition of a photograph.

      For people shooting pictures of finds, they tend to view it as just visual documentation, rather than photography as an art form, and that’s fine. But they need to pay attention to scale, and whether they are capturing the detail that might be very important, so sharp focus, depth of field, white balance and exposure matter a lot, plus what else is in the photo and whether they want that to be out of focus so that it doesn’t detract from the object, i.e. the framing of the object. This becomes very important when the photos are intended to go into any kind of publication.

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      • It does depend, to a certain extent, on the subject and purpose of the photo. I tend to photograph uncooperative subjects – birds, other wildlife, aircraft in flight. I agree that following the “rule of thirds” can help, but’s important not to be enslaved by it or by the “normal” image proportions. The important thing is to get the image you want, whatever that takes.

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      • Speaking of scale: It ought to be standard practice in archaeology, and is in many other fields, to include a familiar object in the frame so that people have some idea of how big the unfamiliar object is. Objects commonly used for this purpose include common coins (most frequently the USD0.25 coin) for small electronics and humans for larger instruments. With techniques such as scanning electron microscopy where this is impractical, it is common to add a reference length, e.g., objects separated by the length of this line are 10 nm apart.

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      • I find the use of coins etc as “scale bars” pretty annoying, especially when being used by professionals. If you’re just the average Fred who’s found an interesting rock or something, fair enough; but a foreign coin, ballpoint pen or whatever is no help if you don’t know how big the scale object is to start with. I carry a credit card-sized scale issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in my wallet, but unfortunately most birds, lizards, fish and spiders refuse to pose with it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry Martin – I thought her claims of efficacy made her fair game. As an actress I’ve always liked her, and I find it sad that, like so many Hollywood stars, she appears to have drifted into a potentially harmful lifestyle.

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    • I’ve read that she wields a lot of power and influence in Hollywood, and her appearance in the latest film bears that out, in a role she is clearly no longer physically suited for. Her acting is not bad – if she played roles suited to her looks, no argument from me (you won’t catch me commenting critically on Judi Dench’s appearance), but she isn’t, and she’s getting prominence in credits (and presumably payment to match) that are clearly undeserved. A little more diversity and a little less hierarchical white privilege would be welcome.

      It’s her who touts her jade eggs, so I’m unrepentant – it’s in the same category as all of her other quack health rubbish that she peddles to people. She is flogging quackery, and from her own appearance it seems likely that it is quackery that is definitely not good for people, and she should be called out on it.

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    • Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that in this film that they have managed to *reduce* diversity in the respective franchises (spoiler alert) by killing off both Zoe Saldana and Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther – second highest grossing film in 2018 behind this one), so no ongoing roles for them, then, and no sequel to the hugely popular Black Panther film. But Paltrow is (apparently) still there, and got higher billing in the credits for this film, despite the other two having more extensive roles (Saldana much more). I can’t critique Paltrow’s acting in the film because she wasn’t in it long enough to do any.

      I notice that last year no less than NASA had to step in and warn Paltrow off for selling little “wellness patches” (patches to stick on your skin) which she claimed were made out of bits of NASA space suits. They aren’t. NASA ridiculed the miraculous health claims she was making for these patches while they were at it, plus noted that they leave nasty marks on the skin. She subsequently removed mention of NASA, but is still selling the patches (US$120 for 24). The claims were, and still are, fraudulent and ridiculous, and NASA called her out on that, but she is evidently undeterred. Now that they are no longer claimed to be bits of space suits, the source of the patches is credited to two unnamed “aestheticians”.
      https://goop.com/wellness/mindfulness/wearable-stickers-that-promote-healing-really/

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    • I missed the concealed appended note about the stickers that you had to click on to reveal: “There probably aren’t going to be peer-reviewed studies about this concept [no – really?], but it’s fun, and there’s real merit in that.”

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      • The Gloop response to any legal action is to settle, and then double down. It’s a consistent strategy that they follow. They have done exactly this with the jade eggs – they had to cough up US$145,000 to settle a law suit over making false claims about them, which they admitted to as part of the settlement, but have now immediately doubled down on that, claiming that it was nonsense and that ‘tens of thousands of women’ attest to their efficacy.

        Gwyneth Paltrow’s reaction to this is enlightening – she said that any kind of adverse publicity draws more people to look up the Gloop website and “I can monetize those eyeballs.” Frank, open and very very cynical.

        They now put a disclaimer against each and every one of these fraudulent claims, but keep posting them – all in the name of fun, I guess. It’s fun to publish blatant rubbish and suck people into reading it. And then admit to them that it’s rubbish, but encourage them to buy the stuff anyway. For fun.

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    • I read the jade egg thing, but don’t have the heart to talk about it. Besides, I’m not qualified – I don’t have a vagina to stick polished rocks up, and I’m sure as hell not going to stick any rocks up my arse. Except they rubbished one gynecologist who spoke out against it, saying that was the “patriarchy” speaking – failing to note that the gynecologist was a woman. Female patriarch, maybe.

      They talked about acupuncture – well, extensive clinical trials have shown that acupuncture doesn’t work. I’ve had it several times; spent hours with needles stuck in my head, my hands, my elbow – it didn’t do a damn thing. Yoga – I like it, good for stretching, and a good stretch is very relaxing. If you do weight training, it will cause muscle shortening unless you also do stretching, and yoga is as good as anything for that. Don’t push it too far, though, you can injure yourself. And go easy on the head standing thing, it can cause deterioration of the cervical spine. No magic. And none of that has anything to do with jade eggs, but they quoted acupuncture and yoga in support of…oh, fill in the blanks yourself, I can’t be bothered.

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    • I can say something about jade, though, because I know something about mineralogy, I like jade, it’s pretty, and I live in one of the jade buying and selling capitals of the world, so I see a hell of a lot of jade jewellery and ornaments. Genuine jade can be one of two different minerals, jadeite and nephrite. There are other green coloured minerals, which swindlers will try to pass off as jade to people who can’t tell the difference. Jade comes in different colours: green, white, pale purple, brown, a sort of orangey colour. It varies enormously in price, depending on the quality.

      I don’t know what Gwyneth Paltrow’s jade eggs are made of, but if she’s selling them for US$66, they’re not made of genuine jade – even the poorest quality jade would cost more than that. If they were real jade and selling for that price, the jewellery makers of Hong Kong would be importing them by the container load to turn into other things. Not that it matters; jade doesn’t have any magical properties. It’s just a rock; a pretty rock, but a rock. If there is any benefit in sticking something like that in one of your orifices, and I will leave it to lady gynecologists to talk about that, then any non-porous polished rock would do.

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      • The eggs are described as being made of nephrite, although they also have cheaper ones made of rose quartz for sale. In fact, (I can’t believe I actually wrote “fact”… oh, well…) jade is intended for curing pains in the side, and nephrite in particular is meant for fixing kidney problems. I wonder if this counts as “off label” use?

        Liked by 1 person

      • A German colleague taught me the expression “die Eier kraulen”, lit. “to fondle the eggs”, which means “to fondle someone’s testicles”, that is, “to stroke a man’s ego”.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Paleolithic DNA from the Caucasus reveals core of West Eurasian ancestry.
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/09/20/423079

    I saw on the grapevine that we can expect a truckload of ancient genomes being published in the near future. Since I saw that, there have been two so far: this one and Pontus Skoglund’s paper on Africa. Both are big, in terms of implications/big steps forward in knowledge, not small increments on existing knowledge.

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  8. Honeysuckle – I go berserk over the smell of frangipani flowers, particularly at night – they are most fragrant at night, because they rely on moths to pollinate them. Can’t get enough of their sweet aroma – nearly suck the flowers up my nose.

    I do the same with daffodils, whichever species of them it is that people get here for Chinese New Year. Can’t get enough of that smell, but I don’t rate it quite as highly as frangipani trees on a warm, still night.

    Liked by 2 people

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