November Pieces Of My Mind #2

Sculpture panel by Stig Blomberg in Skandia, a sumptuously decorated 1923 movie theatre in central Stockholm. Those women don’t seem to be big bagpipes fans.
  • I enjoyed Heinlein’s Door Into Summer. But it must have been weird in 1957 too for a grown man to groom an 11-y-o girl, then go into cryo sleep until she’s 21, and marry her.
  • Archaeology studies the lives of people thousands of years ago. Most of us today don’t even know anything about the people who lived in our homes 20 years ago.
  • The European Space Agency was founded in 1975. Australia founded its space agency last year. That’s a country of 25 million largely well educated people. They’re going to do some cool stuff!
  • Black Sabbath’s song “Paranoid” is about depression, not paranoia. The Pixies’ song “Ana” has an acrostic in the lyrics (SURFER), not an anagram.
  • I shared the bench in court with a pregnant judge today. She was an impressive lawyer.
  • My new art film project is Hardcore Hugs, a 10-minute compilation of expressions of tenderness or affection from porn movies.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

80 thoughts on “November Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. These double negations are worthy of Marvin the Paranoid Android https://xkcd.com/2078/
    . . . . . . .
    Re. variation, and modern genetics. It is seventy years since Darwinism was combined with a proper undrstanding of genetics, (I forgot the name of that guy -Haldane?).
    Someone wrote that the problem is, people *think* they understand how it works.
    . . .
    BTW, would it be possible to “reconstruct” the aurochs through breeding? Each domestication event would be a bottleneck. And there would be no pressure to retain genes that are useful in the wild, but useless in domesticated animals, the major selection pressure being the choices by the humans breeding the cattle.

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  2. Gregor Mendel was the Augustinian friar. He’s now regarded as the father of modern genetics. Evolution can’t actually work without Mendelian inheritance, so you need Darwin + Mendel -> evolution.

    Re: aurochs, the recent dingo paper should be enlightening. When dingoes went from (presumed) domesticates to feral and stayed feral for maybe 4,500 years in Australia, in some ways they reverted to ‘wild type’ genetically, and in some ways they didn’t – it seems that some of the processes that happened due to domestication were not reversible, mostly to do with neural crest cells. Wild animals have more neural crest cells, and a lot of them are lost due to domestication, and having been lost it seems they can’t be recovered. So I guess the same would apply to aurochs.

    The other thing was that dingoes didn’t increase in size to wolf-size. But someone pointed out that it is only wolves in cold regions that grow big; wolves in warmer areas are generally a lot smaller, although Mexican wolves are apparently pretty big. My thought on that is that the ancestors of dingoes would have been medium sized canids, maybe domesticated from medium sized wolves, and there was nothing about the Australian environment that would select for larger size (all of the megafauna were long extinct by the time that dingoes arrived, with the exception of the largest extant species of kangaroos), so there was no reason why they should grow bigger; dingoes are smart, and capable and cooperative hunters, and a pack of dingoes can bring down a healthy adult red kangaroo (which are neither slow nor defenceless). And when big animals like horses and water buffalo went feral in Australia, which was obviously really very recent, dingoes proved themselves capable of bringing down those animals without needing to be any bigger than they are, which is the size of a medium sized dog. They are generalists, not specialists like African hunting dogs, and go after prey in a wide range of sizes, and they can do that while remaining the size of medium sized domestic dogs.

    Australia now has a whole lot more feral dromedaries than it needs; they cull 20,000-30,000 of them every year, but they are hardly making a dent in the feral camel population. It would make sense for dingoes to prey on young camels, but I have never heard of a dingo pack bringing down a young or adult camel. But then, there is no reason particularly why I should hear about it – it could be something that happens that no one sees, or sees any point in mentioning.

    The other thing worth mentioning is that dingoes obviously went through a severe bottleneck when they arrived in Australia, so that’s going to have done something.

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  3. When you want to calm things down, send in a woman. The HK Police know that.

    Unfortunately it demonstrably doesn’t work against Korean ‘rice farmers’, and it doesn’t work against HK ‘pro-democracy’ and ‘independence’ ‘activists’, none of whom have any qualms about attacking women physically (the visiting Korean ‘rice farmers’ attacked unarmed police women with steel bars – the local political activists are not much better).

    But it works on normal people, and it worked on the Sentinelese, who are clearly more ‘civilised’ than certain political activists.

    https://theprint.in/opinion/madhumala-chattopadhyay-the-woman-who-made-the-sentinelese-put-their-arrows-down/156330/

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  4. “Stone tools linked to ancient human ancestors in Arabia have surprisingly recent date”
    https://phys.org/news/2018-11-stone-tools-linked-ancient-human.html
    (excerpt) “… has documented an Acheulean presence in the Arabian Peninsula dating to less than 190,000 years ago, revealing that the Arabian Acheulean ended just before or at the same time as the earliest Homo sapiens dispersals into the region. “
    -They were able to live at marginally habitable regions, which explains how they managed to hang on to a late date.
    .
    Question: Since a certain holy book from this region is “eternal and uncreated” I assume the acheulean tool users were speaking quranic arabic…..despite having the larynx of archaic humans ?????
    -Fortunately, there is no sign they were Jewish, in which case the Saudi authorities would have run a bulldozer over the site, obliterating all traces ( * this happened to a site with a pre-islamic synagogue).
    *PS Did I mention I hate the Saudi rulers A LOT ?

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  5. This is beyond the powers of ordinary skepticism, as it targets the dumbfuck conspiracy crowd.
    “Stone, Corsi Lied About Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory” https://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/11/29/stone-corsi-lied-about-seth-rich-conspiracy-theory/
    Comment by Sastra: “That’s the thing about peddling lies to the sort of people who believe in conspiracy theories. You can go up, grab them by the shirt, look right into their eyes, and confess “I LIED TO YOU!!!!” and they’ll nod, say “uh huh” … and wink. “

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