Open Thread For April

… I, for the succour and diversion of such of them as love (for others may find sufficient solace in the needle and the spindle and the reel), do intend to recount one hundred Novels or Fables or Parables or Stories, as we may please to call them, which were recounted in ten days by an honourable company of seven ladies and three young men in the time of the late mortal pestilence, as also some canzonets sung by the said ladies for their delectation. Decameron, Preamble

Author: Martin R

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

557 thoughts on “Open Thread For April”

  1. To avoid creating a big window in the comment thread and fatally slow down the thread from loading, I have divided the link into two parts, you can simply paste them together in the web browser

    ”Trump Admin Lets Millions Of Pounds Of Food Rot As Food Banks Beg For More”
    Since a lot of the farmers are Republican voters it would make pragmatic sense to bail them out by buying food for the food banks, at much less cost than bailing out the banks.
    The problem is, 1: farmers cannot make as much political donations as the major companies benefiting from the bailout, and
    2: the idea of having food banks that *give away* stuff to people (who are not political donors) is ideologically abhorrent to the people in the government. Ideology trumps compassion.
    https:// youtu.be/kpVa4rO4qHs

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    1. There is more to it than that. Most crops in the US are picked by seasonal migrant workers. Because most farmers are not willing to pay enough to induce Americans to take on this physically demanding labor, most of the workers who pick the crops come north from Mexico for the work and return in the winter when there is little or no work in the US. But now these workers cannot cross the border, so there is nobody to pick the crops.

      There is a further issue in the US of bifurcated supply chains: most restaurants do not compete directly with grocery stores to get their food, but buy it in bulk from different suppliers. Farmers who were accustomed to selling into the restaurant supply chain may not have the contacts to sell their product to grocery stores, and wholesalers in the restaurant supply chain (as opposed to individual restaurants, who might be willing to give away food that would otherwise spoil in their storage to some local food bank) are unlikely to buy product only to give it away to food banks. The food banks themselves probably do not have connections to individual farmers who may be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away.

      Toilet paper in the US has a similar issue with bifurcated supply chains. Grocery store suppliers have seen a sudden surge in demand because people are no longer using the restrooms at work or in restaurants, while the commercial suppliers have seen their demand crater for the same reason.

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  2. To avoid creating a big window in the comment thread and fatally slow down the thread from loading,, I have divided the link into two parts, you can simply paste them together in the web browser

    Rammstein Death Metal version of Scarborough Fair is better than the Simon and Garfunkel cover
    ”Bill Bailey Is Better Than Never Mind The Buzzcocks
    https:// youtu.be/AmWCh8Vctr4
    German or the Western Counties dialect ARE better for some songs! “Torn…apart….by badgeers..!!!!”

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  3. Latitudinal gradient in dairy production with the introduction of farming in Atlantic Europe.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15907-4

    This is the paper that Birger mentioned a while back. People who have been following this will know that farmers in Europe were relying on dairy a lot earlier than selection for lactose tolerance happened. I was going to write a short piece about that, but I have been overtaken by late afternoon ennui, which is a daily occurrence lately. It’s a side effect of Flamenco practice, which is mentally tiring – the fingers are willing, but the brain and central nervous system hit a wall.

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    1. Thierry Ennui was my favourite footballer. That’s an Arsenal joke.

      Paco de Lucia used to talk sadly about “all of the grey days”. Not that I’m comparing myself to the immortal Paco, but I know exactly what he meant – the hours sitting in one position, endlessly practising. It does you no good at all, but it is unavoidable. He knew it was killing him; he quit regular touring to reduce the burden of the grey days practising and composing, saying that he “hated” the guitar, quit his lifelong smoking habit, and started exercising, but it was too late – he was playing soccer with his grandson on a beach in Mexico and suffered heart failure; rushed him to the nearest hospital, but too late to save him, he died on the operating table. By the time he died he looked like a worn out old man in his 80s, but he was only 61.

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  4. UK: “Nation warned to brace themselves for tidal wave of garbled Greek quotations” http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2020/04/27/nation-warned-to-brace-themselves-for-tidal-wave-of-garbled-greek-quotations/
    The UK has been issued a warning described as somewhere between even more severe state of emergency and public calamity. After weeks of nothing but immersion in ancient Greek literature, the Prime Minister is poised to return armed to the teeth with endless torrents of irrelevant blither.

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    1. Also, the author of the first (surviving) biography of Muhammed was by, wossname, a person other early islamic sholars like Bukhari dismossed as dishonest, and making up stuff.

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  5. Let’s hear it for the Cubans. (Yes, I’m an old Commie, remember.)

    Cuba’s health care system is the envy of the world, or should be. And their cars – their cars are unbelievable. And their cigars, but I detest cigars. Rum? Don’t know anything about that, but I had a friend from the Dominican Republic who told me that the cheapest rum produced there cost only US$1 per large bottle, so people who could not afford food would live on rum – it would work, keep them alive, until it didn’t. The Dominicans produce very high quality ‘black bottle’ rum, which is like the rum equivalent of French cognac – but it is exactly as toxic and harmful as the US$1 stuff.

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/487110-cuba-covid-19-policy/

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    1. I hear beer is so full of nutrition and vitamins, it is called ‘liquid bread’. This is why mericans have the expression ‘beer gut’. Alhoholics who use vodka are by contrast prone to malnutrition.

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    1. I would like to be optimistic about this, but I know enough about plasma physics to recognize that the researchers themselves don’t know what is going on here. The mechanism they refer to has a phenomenological name, RF condensation. If they actually knew what was happening, it would have a name that is more descriptive of the physics. Also, it is called RF condensation because for the region of parameter space that they are in, the relevant waves are in the radio frequency range. Most likely a different range would be called for if they were working with a geophysical or astrophysical plasma.

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  6. The Trump administration is number one!
    The death toll in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic has officially surpassed the nation’s death toll from the Vietnam War, with Johns Hopkins University reporting 58,365 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday evening.
    The Vietnam Conflict Extract Data File of the Defense Casualty Analysis System Extract Files contains records of at least 58,220 U.S. military fatalities from the Vietnam War, according to the National Archives, which has had custody of the records since 2008. The Vietnam War lasted nearly two decades, and the records show that the deaths spanned about 50 years. The COVID-19 death toll comes not even three months since the first confirmed U.S. death from the virus.
    While the total fatalities in the U.S. during the pandemic and during the war is almost the same now, the nation’s actual death rate from COVID-19 is much higher, at about 17.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, according to NPR. The death toll in 1968 — the deadliest year for the U.S. in Vietnam — was 16,899, or 8.5 troops killed for every 100,000 U.S. residents. The nation has a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the name of each U.S. fatality is written on a wall. The coronavirus fatality count in the U.S. now exceeds the count on that wall.
    — Sanjana Karanth

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  7. The author Maj Sjövall has passed away after a prolonged disease.
    She co-wrote the detective novels
    about Martin Beck with Per Wahlöö, who died 45 years ago.
    -You might say this was the foundation for Scandi detective fiction success in the world, the way ABBA laid the foundation for Swedish and other Scandinavian music being accepted. Some of the novels have been filmed in English-speaking countries.

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  8. The opposition is slandering our great Bojo by claiming the statistics are skewed as those dying at home are not counted as COVID19 deaths. But there are plenty of other causes of deaths.
    The commies are totally discounting the possibility that those people watched a mysterious video and got killed by a drowned japanese girl that crawled out of the TV set.

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  9. Newsbiscuit: Leaked SAGE minutes reveal Cummings is alien leader from planet Covid 19,
    Gove gives go-ahead to Fagin “free school”, Boris:’We’re finally at the end of the beginning of the end of the first phase’

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  10. Krystal Ball: Pelosi, Dems Pathetic resistance theater helps Trump again.
    Krystal Ball slams Dem theatrics over the stimulus bill, despite still voting for the massive corporate slush fund that neglects the needs of workers and gives Trump total control of oversight.

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    1. Krystal Ball (that is apparently her real name) is not a reliable source on anything regarding the US political process, because she seems not to understand how laws are made in this country. Here is a simplified tutorial on the process: I’m Just a Bill

      Since the President and a majority of Senators are Republican, a bill that does not have provisions they approve of has zero chance of passage, no matter how good it may be. That is why we have to allow some business bailouts in order to get any help to the people who need it. And there are provisions that do help ordinary people. I have a bank statement verifying that a stimulus payment of $1200 was deposited in my bank account.

      Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are more alike than either would care to admit. Both are septuagenarians who are not as healthy as they would like us to believe, and both are surrounded by cults of personality and reality distortion fields.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Does not reflect well on the American political system that both parties are fielding elderly presidential candidates. There’s a lower limit to a president’s age. Maybe there should be an upper one too.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Hei’ doesn’t mean energy; it can mean air or breath, but in this context it is more likely to mean steam or vapour – the steam rising from the wok while cooking. ‘Tin hei’ means weather, where ‘tin’ means sky or heaven.

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      1. That would be a bit like those in the Stockholm society who bragged of meeting Hermann Göring in the 1920s….

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  11. Speaking of being famous, I just finally got around to deleting my LinkedIn account. It has never been of any practical use, and their endless emails keep bugging me, so that’s it – it’s gone.

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  12. Britney Spears just burned down her home gym.
    And Mericans have started to use the phrase “ch*nk virus”. 😦

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  13. Joerg Sprave has just displayed an upgraded version of his “instant Legolas” crossbow at Youtube, it looks very steampunk-ish.
    .
    The Gotland Medieval Week has been canceled and will be replaced by an online variant.
    I approve, historical accuracy does not need to extend to actual plagues.
    .
    The Gothenburg Book Fair will likewise be replaced by some kind of digital version.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joerg Sprave is one of those lovable weirdos that you find on Youtube occasionally. I liked it when he showed that you can fire darts with a sling shot. He should probably be locked up or something.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Florida has banned coroners from releasing numbers of people dying of sars- cov2 . They are copying BoJo and his playbook.
    The sheer stupidity of trying to sweep a mess this size under the carpet is mind-boggling. They genuinely have no idea what they are doing.
    If they appointed leaders by lot -as in ancient Athens- it could not get worse.

    Like

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