126 thoughts on “Open Thread for May”

  1. Here’s one for Birger:

    https://createdigital.org.au/tim-macdonald-engineer-voyaged-to-the-deepest-point-of-the-ocean/?utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EDM-20210506

    So deepest descent by an *Australian* (and presumably by a New Zealander as well, as both flags are being displayed).

    My countrymen being the humble people they are, many will read this and repeat it as the deepest descent by anyone in the world. They do stuff like that all the time. “Australia is the most successful multi-cultural country in the world.” Who says? Based on what evidence? “There are more different ethnicities represented in Australia than any other country in the world.” Evidence? Data? “Australia is not a racist country.” That one is true – it is, it is not a racist country, it’s just full of racist people.

    One perennial: “Australia wins more Olympic medals per capita than any other country.” That one is easy to check. No it doesn’t, New Zealand does.

    Canada wins suprisingly few Olympic medals per capita – the Canadians have this strange idea that it is actually more important to get everyone in the community engaging in physical activity for the sake of good health, than to focus all of the resources on grooming a glorified set of elite athletes, while anyone not good enough is just sneered at and told not to bother. How weird of them. [Editorial note: this is one of those very few times when I will say anything good about Canada and Canadians.]

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    1. I got into one of those “someone is wrong on the Internet” type arguments with some Australian guy, who was insisting that more ethnicities are represented in Australia than in any other country in the world. I kept asking him for evidence, but he just kept giving me numbers of migrants per year and such that didn’t answer the question.

      So finally I said: “OK – how many Native Americans are there in Australia?” He went strangely quiet after that – didn’t answer again. Perhaps he is still trying to find out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The total number of hospital admissions and intensive care admissions is going down slowly but consistently, 3 per cent one day, one per cent the other.
    Here in Västerbotten we had a bunch of new admissions the last week, showing how much it differs regionally. It is especially young people here in Umeå that are pushing up the numbers, they think they are bloody immortal.
    .
    Incidentally, I fought against strong winds, hailstones and 3°C weather to get to the assigned vaccine site today. I got the Pfizer vaccine, I am told the side effects usually are limited to a sore arm and being really fired.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Martin.
        Addendum; the number of patients in ICU is dropping much slower than the number of other patients.
        Also, the testing of blood donors and of ‘ordinary’ patients show ca. 20 % have antibodies. It indicates a very large part of the population has had Sars-cov-2, many without noticing it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Birger: Side effects from Pfizer (BioNTech to me) appear to be stronger in younger people, because their immune systems are stronger and react more strongly to the vaccine. Younger colleagues at the office report stronger reactions than I had – headaches and chills for a few days. And the reactions are stronger after the second dose. I had a mildly sore deltoid muscle at the injection site for a few days, and felt tired for the rest of the day of the injection. My wife, who is 8 years young than I, felt tired for a few days. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all pretty trivial.

      I hope you weren’t really fired, though 🙂

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    1. I have looked far to find som arab-language item that is really positive, and here is an example from (I think) Tunisia

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For a while I played tennis mixed doubles with a Tunisian woman as my partner. She was the doubles partner from hell. OMG was she awful – constant really foul language in both English and French, and I suspect also in Arabic. We once played against a French pair, and finally the normally polite and pleasant guy approached the net and told her very forcefully to stop constantly using such foul language. Frequently very angry; I mean really steaming angry. Kept smashing racquets in uncontrollable rage and then demanding I give her a new one from my collection of spare racquets. Constantly disputing line calls and starting fights with our opponents. Always blamed me for her own mistakes; always took credit when I won a point for us. Finally I gave her the push. Never again.

        OK, sample of one, but she was a demon straight out of hades. But she could be charming when it suited her and she was trying to get something. No. Just no.

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  3. Pfizer stands to make US$29 billion from vaccines this year. Rich countries are hoarding vaccines.

    AstraZeneca did it for science and the public good, not for profit. In return, they have received nothing but grief, criticisms and potential lawsuits. In a recent interview, the AstraZeneca production manager was asked whether he would do it again. His bitter reply: “Not in a million years.” I could add to that cancelled orders – multiple countries/regions scrapped using it, including Australia and Hong Kong. It has left Australia without a plan to vaccinate the whole population, because they don’t have enough vaccine doses.

    Pfizer actually causes more blood clots than AstraZeneca, but seem to have been able to keep it quiet. It’s a case of very rare vs even more rare.

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  4. OH SHIT NOOO!!! Escaped leopards are roaming around Hangzhou – one of my recurring nightmares.

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  5. Big Neanderthal find in Italy. Weird thing about Neanderthals – they have found a lot more males than females. Just chance, maybe.

    Excuse my French, but fuck my fucking stupid fucking office fucking IT fucking system.

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    1. It looks very much like those Neanderthals were killed by hyenas (at various times, not all at once) and their remains dragged into that cave, which seems to have served as a lair for hyenas for a long period.

      Cave hyenas were big bastards in excess of 100kg which preyed on big game like horses, steppe bison and woolly rhinos, so an isolated male Neanderthal would not be a particular challenge for them.

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    1. Or get a wig.

      Maybe Martin can grow his mutton chop whiskers really long and tie them together over the top of his head.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hilarious news from Florida.
    -The Republicans are cracking down on mail voting nationwide to supress voter turnout. The Florida Republicans unthinkingly followed suit, and passed a law that means you practically have to be an invalid to get permission to vote by mail.

    Journalists spent five minutes fact-checking and found the (mostly elderly) Republican voter base in the state rely heavily on mail voting….35% of them. They disenfrancised a third of their own voters!
    .
    I knew the repub politicians were mean, greedy and hypocritical, but they are also dumber than a bucket full of hammers.
    .
    Just in at Youtube.
    “Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews: Kill or be Killed ”
    1970s karate film made in South Africa.
    Shocking plot development: the guy in the nazi uniform with the swastika on the arm having flashbacks to WWII turns out to be the boss baddie of the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nicholas Moran (aka the chieftain) was inspecting the Swedish self-propelled antitank gun m 43 (not straightforward -those things were designed for short people) and heroically tried to pronounce “kolsyreeldsläckaragggregat”.

    Today, with computer graphics assisting the engineers it is a million times easier to design vehicles where the crew members can actually fit with all their limbs and reach the equipment without having to disassemble half the miserable stuff first.
    Especially the Soviet engineers seem to have hated their tank crews but the Abrams also has plenty of opportunities for the crewmen to lose fingers.

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  8. Phylogenetic history of patrilineages rare in northern and eastern Europe from large-scale re-sequencing of human Y-chromosomes.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41431-021-00897-8

    Unfortunately pay-walled. By northern and eastern Europe here they mean specifically Sweden and Finland.

    The dominant Y haplogroups in Sweden are R1a (closely associated with the Corded Ware culture), R1b (closely associated with the Bell Beaker culture) and I1 (which appears to be European hunter gatherer, so it looks like local hunter gatherer males got integrated early into Corded Ware culture, and there was an I1 star-like phylogeny, which indicates a particularly powerful patriarch who fathered an influential lineage).

    The dominant Y haplogroup in Finland is N3, which is not associated with the Yamnaya Indo-European expansion/migration into Europe. Indo-European is a language group, not a genetic or ‘racial’ grouping, but the massive male mediated Steppe migration into Europe is associated with the spreading of Indo-European languages as by far the dominant language group in Europe, aside from Finland where Finns speak a Finno-Ugric language (aside from the Swedish speaking Finns) and the odd pocket like the Basques who still speak a Vasconic language, so Indo-European has become a proxy for the migration of dominant males and cultures.

    In this paper they were looking at some rare Y haplogroups – by rare they mean maybe 5% of the modern population. So, I guess unless people are genomics nerds (I’m not), this is not too interesting.

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    1. But just in case, the rare Y lineages they found are:
      G-M201 – Seems to be survival from Early European Farmers.
      J2 – Not clear, but probably ditto.
      E2 – Hunter gatherer associated with the Villabruna HG people. (Before Anatolian farmers migrated into Europe, different hunter gatherer groups kept replacing one another, so there are several different HG groups associated with different time periods.)
      Q – Could be Scandinavian Hunter Gatherer survival.

      My conclusion: there was large scale replacement, but not total wipeout by the incoming Indo-Europeans of at least some pre-existing Y lineages. Well, that’s pretty much what you would expect.

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  9. Bertil Malmberg has been the go-to islam ‘expert’ for the SD xenophobia party for many years but now he is in big trouble after starting to compare the IQ of various groups (the example that really got him in trouble was about the sudanese) (he is 83 years old so he is like the major in Fawlty Towers).
    Being (crudely) anti-islam is OK but now that the party sees the opportunity for a coalition with other parties they want to clean up their image and any IQ stuff is toxic.
    .
    It is weird, I find myself in the position to defend muslims. They are not an amorphous mass of identical people, not do all follow scriptures without thinking.

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    1. That is what got James Watson cancelled – talking about people with African ancestry having lower IQ than others, which was very stupid of him. He is now persona non grata anywhere he goes. I would like to think he learned something from that, but I doubt it.

      The person who really should be cancelled, so I am told, is Francis Crick, who is said to be a terrible sexual predator who sexually harasses all of his female colleagues. Just a matter of time, I guess, until one of his former female colleagues decides to blow the whistle on him, and then they will all come out, and that will be him, done. And deservedly so.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical and BioNTech are to form a joint venture to develop a facility in the Mainland to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine per year.

    Best news I’ve heard all day. Make that week.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Francis Crick escaped being pepper sprayed by dying 2004. Maybe you are thinking of someone else? There is no shortage of deviants in academia.

    Revenge fantasy…
    We need clones of Kaori Makimura, from the anime City Hunter. She keeps track of the mostly benign but oversexed cartoon character Ryo Saeba.
    The antihero private detective is kept on the straight and narrow by his assistant Kaori who has the power to materialize a sledgehammer (!) from thin air when she thinks he is getting lecherous towards women he meets.

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    1. No, that’s the one. I just overlooked the minor inconvenience that he died in 2004. Biologist Nancy Hopkins called him out for sexual assault on her when she was an undergraduate.

      He was also an advocate of ‘positive eugenics’ in which wealthy parents would be encouraged to have more children. In his mind evidently wealthy = good; wealthy people must have better genes than non-wealthy people, or something.

      Crick also belittled the contribution of Rosalind Franklin, who was not around to defend herself, having inconsiderately died aged 37 in 1958, whereas Watson said she should have got a posthumous Nobel Prize.

      Watson is a loathsome racist, but certainly not a misogynist or any kind of sexual predator. Or anti-semite (Franklin was Jewish).

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  12. Comment # 100

    I know the Nobel comittee cannot award poshumous Nobel Prizes but they could at least have given her a honourable mention.
    BTW J.R.R. Tolkien was racist towards some groups but not an anti-semite. Churchill was racist towards just about everyone except the jews. Roald Dahl was an anti-semite but I don’t know if he was against other groups.

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    1. They could back THEN, although they did not usually do so. Watson said she should have got it despite being dead, which the rules did not preclude THEN (as opposed to NOW).

      Watson is not a completely despicable person, just a virulently racist one.

      Whereas apparently Crick really was a nasty piece of work.

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  13. Lack of flexibility in the Nobel comittee.
    They don’t reward applied science.
    (After Sputnik and Gagarin they wanted to give an award to the Soviet chief engineer (Korolev) but Chrustchev wanted to keep his identity a secret.)

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    1. Sure they do. There were Nobel prizes for lasers, computer hard disks, LEDs, and so on.

      Of course, the committee has the job of implementing Nobel’s will. Many criticisms of the committee should be criticisms of Nobel’s will. Or, rather, they shouldn’t, since the point of a will is to specify what should be done with the inheritance. People who disagree can create their own prizes (and some have).

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  14. ‘The most important question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we being good ancestors?”
    This is what Jonas Salk said- the man who developed the polio vaccine in 1953 but refused to patent it , forgoing profit so that more lives could be saved.
    .
    The term ‘The Good Ancestor’ is also a title for a book by Roman Krznaric. Subtitle ‘A radical description for long-term thinking’.
    Another publisher has the sub-title ‘How to think long-term in a short-term world’.
    Looks interesting.

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  15. “Akbar” does not merely mean “big” but “the biggest/*very* big”
    .
    And that brings us to the Swedish surname Lund, from the town Lund in Scania, home to a very old university. In India and Pakistan, “lund” literally means “c*ck”.

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    1. Lund is derived from London. After he had conquered England, Knut (or Canute) considered himself more an English king than a Scandinavian one.

      Of course, similar words can have vastly different meanings in different languages. Since prostitution is illegal in Sweden, how can fickpengar possibly exist. 😐

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      1. There is a finite number of sounds you can use as syllables. This is why it is hard to reconstruct language families – some similarities are just random.

        Another example, the Illyrian Venetian tribe living near the Po valley had nothing in common with the celtic Venetian tribe at the Atlantic coast.
        .
        A British woman who used a Norwegian computer program read the word “slutt” at the end of the process she initiated with it. She wrote to new Scientist and said she felt strangely insulted.

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      2. There are two countries whose names are derived from “Aryan”: Eirann (Ireland) and Iran. The latter people and their language actually satisfy the scholarly definition of that term, which of course was hijacked by a certain Austrian-born corporal. I doubt the corporal in question would have considered actual Aryans to be Aryan. The Irish, who may or may not have satisfied the corporal’s definition, are in reality Celtic.

        Meanwhile, one of the major languages of India is Kanada. Which has no relationship to the North American country, and is actually a Dravidian language.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Iranians I know tell me that there are anti-Semitic Iranian fascists who consider themselves to be Aryans in the Austrian corporal sense.

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    1. Chinese people are crazy about those glass bridges.

      You would never get me on one of them in a million years.

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    1. Nah, when my 9 year old daughter got her own unfettered access to the Internet – I gave her a 5 minute talk about keeping herself safe online, and she was fine. Mind you, she was always very good at listening to me when I was telling her about something she knew she needed to know about, and knew I would know what she needed to know. She still is.

      What teenage girls need is a booklet about what to do when men on public transport rub themselves against them. The booklet should contain once sentence: “Scream your lungs out.” That will definitely work. But what most of them do is just freeze in fear – they don’t know what to do, so they freeze. And then tell someone about it a few years later.

      The HK Police go around sticking up notices to tell young girls and women what to do when that happens, because the cops know that their natural reaction is to freeze. Don’t freeze, scream your head off, and other people on the train will grab the guy. They will. In HK they will anyway. And then they can drag the guy off the train at the next stop and the cops will come and take him away. Which is what should happen to such people.

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  16. The TV news just confirmed that a lot of young people here in Umeå got contaminated when they gathered during Valpurgisnacht.
    No amount of information seems to be effective to prevent this €@%^ .

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    1. If they would just die I wouldn’t mind, just natural selection. The problem is that they infect others and when they are sick take advantage of public health care.

      I think that it would be a good move to allow people to forego masks, social distancing, and so on, as long as they sign a binding legal oath that in case of COVID infection they will receive no medical treatment. Shouldn’t be a problem for the tinfoil-hat crowd who think that COVID is a hoax.

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  17. The eurasian hoopooe (härfågel) was sighted in the region Saturday, triggering a stream of birdwatchers. This is well to the north of its normal range, but I suppose nothing is normal anymore.

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  18. I overlooked this news from late April.
    Prince Andrew has been doing business with Harry Keogh, not someone I have heard of but Brits will recall the name in relation with – you have guessed it- sexual abuse.

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