306 thoughts on “Open Thread For September”

  1. Ca2(Al,Fe)2O5

    https://createdigital.org.au/simple-powder-kills-bacteria-in-drinking-water/?utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EDM-20211007-Members

    There are a million good things I could say about this brilliant compound, named after Lorrin Thomas Brownmiller (1902–1990), chief chemist of the Alpha Portland Cement Company, Easton, Pennsylvania, the first person to identify it. Most of them are obvious, so I won’t, except that, happily as it turns out, as well as occurring naturally and able to be mined, it is a by-product of producing Portland cement. So its availability is not limited to the size of natural deposits, and it can be obtained without mining.

    But something struck me about this article: nowhere does the author use the word ‘risk.’ All he says is that chlorine is difficult to transport to remote areas; he doesn’t bother to mention that there is risk associated with transporting and storing it in urban areas. (And you can think about chlorinated public swimming pools if you want to, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.)

    It should be obvious to everyone, but doesn’t seem to be, that the transport and storage of chlorine for water treatment plants in densely populated urban areas entails very substantial risks, due to the possible occurrence of accidental releases. Of course there are safety protocols, so the risks are low, but they are not zero, and a big release of chlorine in a densely occupied area doesn’t bear thinking about. The water people always try not to mention the risks associated with using chlorine for water purification, but the public has a right to know, whether it wants to or not.

    When we were trying to persuade the water people in HK to put their water treatment plants in underground man-made caverns (in order to conserve precious surface land for other uses), they made up every excuse they could think of for why they couldn’t do it. The one thing they always avoided mentioning is that if there was an accidental release in an underground cavern, their staff would be down there with it. It would be a lower risk option for the public, because chlorine is more dense than air, so the chlorine would remain contained within the cavern (assuming that the cavern was below the level of the ground surface, which is not an automatic assumption in HK, if you are tunnelling straight into a steep hillside, or even up into one), but their staff would be at increased risk. So they didn’t want to do it. And they didn’t want to admit why.

    They lost that battle. They said they couldn’t hold water in underground tanks due to radon. We pointed out that most of HK’s water supply comes from the Mainland through many kilometres of unlined underground tunnels.

    The author also doesn’t seem to know that the singular of bacteria is bacterium, but then I presume he is an engineer, and we are all at best semi-literate.

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  2. Latest pandemic update for Sweden. 249 covid hospital patients of which 36 in ICU. Both numbers have seen a very slight reduction.
    The mortality statistics have a two-week lag but it looks to be dropping significantly from the peak in September.
    Vaccines: as a precaution, the Moderna vaccine is no longer given to people under 30.
    .
    USA: Fox et al have a winning business model. Fearmongering about the vaccine provides more viewers = more ad revenues.
    Obviously the many unvaccinated (in mainly Republican-led states and counties) are dying like flies.
    The idiot deputy governor of…Idaho? Illinois? made a coup when the governor was away and banned all mask mandates, as well as ordering the national guard down to the Mexican border.

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  3. Boris granted 300 visas for drivers of fuel trucks.
    Only 27 foreign drivers have reported an interest- that is literally one per EU country.
    BBC found this embarassing, so they “accidentally ” reported it as 127.
    (You may remember when they “accidentally ” provided TV footage from the ceremony of the PM laying flowers at the grave of the unknown soldier from the wrong year to hide the gaffe BoJo did)

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  4. “Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the Covid-19 cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic, said on Wednesday that more Americans have died of the virus in 2021 than in all of 2020 – regardless of Biden’s mask mandates and more than half of the US being fully vaccinated.”

    Meanwhile, so far in 2021 we have had more deaths from hiking accidents than from Covid-19, and peak hiking season is just getting going as the weather is getting a bit cooler and drier. So deaths from heat stroke will no longer be a concern, but deaths from falling will ramp up as people’s hiking becomes more adventurous and energetic.

    But if Delta gets into HK and really gets going, and it can only be a matter of time before that happens, then it’s going to be a real shit show. Because we have only fully vaccinated 63% of the eligible population (i.e. excluding kids under 12 and the small % of people who can’t be vaccinated because of illnesses). The government was confidently predicting that 70% would be vaccinated by the end of September. No, didn’t happen.

    The unvaccinated now are the hardline hold-outs, and the 70+ and 80+ year old people who just didn’t know what to do so were fence-sitting. So for the latter they have now adopted an ‘opt-out’ policy – they say they are going to vaccinate them all unless the old folks say no, they definitely don’t want to be vaccinated. It’s reported so far to be working – the oldies are saying oh well, if you say I have to be vaccinated, then I’d better be vaccinated. So far. There’s a long way to go yet, though.

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  5. A previously unknown mass extinction has been identified
    In the transition between the
    Eocene and Oligocene 60% of mammalian species disappeared in the reverse of the climate change that is happening today.

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  6. About conspiracy theories:
    ”AI Exposes A Group Behind Covid, Brexit & Climate, w Stephen Fry”
    10% of Americans think the Earth may be flat and 25% believe some kind of conspiracy is behind the pandemic. Yours Birger Johansson

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  7. Aaand another one bites the dust – 51 yo British male went out hiking (alone) 0n 2 Oct. His decomposing corpse was found by a search and rescue crew two days ago. I have been regrettably tardy in reporting it.

    I’m going through a period where I really can’t be fvcked doing anything much at all.

    All of HK had more than 300mm of rain today. A big section of bamboo scaffolding blew down this morning, and one female construction worker was killed.

    So that’s the end of the enjoyably hot weather for this year, unfortunately. It won’t recover from this – it will stay in the 24 – 27 ish range for a while, then get progressively cooler, damn it.

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  8. So you got half of Umeå’s yearly precipitation in one day. Of course, for the good people in Cherrapunji, that would be just another day.
    .
    Two research items from Lund university.
    A small money payment ($24) increased the number of vaccinations by 4% compared to the control group.
    And testing organoids grown from stem cells shows a difference in brain cell function between humans and chimpanzees is caused by noncoding “junk” DNA.

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    1. They have promised that we can have the other half of Umeå’s yearly precipitation today. The centre of this tropical cyclone is staying 500 km away from HK, but has a broad circulation and is making its presence felt. I await with baited breath to see what penalty will be imposed on the person who was supposed to certify the safety of the bamboo scaffolding that collapsed, killing one female construction worker and trapping another. From past experience, I expect to be waiting a very long time.

      Cherrapunji (not its real name) is an odd place with a very odd culture. Despite being regularly drowned in torrential rain, they suffer from an acute shortage of water. Presumably they have nowhere to collect and store the stuff. They have a matrilineal culture, females outnumber males (very unusual for northern India, where sex selective abortions and female infanticide outdo China, even during the period of the one child policy), and a higher percentage of females than males are literate. The youngest daughter inherits the family property – I assume this means her older sisters have a difficult time finding marriage partners. I refuse to believe there is any correlation between women running the place and no one having the bright idea of building one or more reservoirs.

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  9. Congratulations Sigourney Weawer, 72 today.
    Back in the seventies her character knew the importance of following quarantine rules.
    .
    Madonna is releasing another documentary.
    .
    Tears For Fears is coming back together.

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  10. It had to happen – a local pop star’s elderly mother has been attacked by a wild boar while out walking, leaving her with a fractured hip and shattered elbow. The old lady committed the unforced error of going walking carrying a bag of dried cat food. The responsible government department has said it has not received any complaints about wild pigs causing a nuisance in the area, despite the building management where the old lady lives having a black and white record of having made complaints to the department concerned on 41 separate occasions recently. They really have no shame, these people.

    The pop star said about her mother: “It has been a week since the surgery on her hip and she is still unable to walk.” I have news for her – her mother is 83. She might never walk again.

    When the concerned department was asked what they were going to do about the wild pig problem, they said they would educate the public about not feeding the pigs. Yes, educating the public always works really well in HK (sarcasm).

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  11. Yay! Someone has found a way to ridicule virtue signalling without actually saying it.

    Emma Brockes at the Guardian: “There is something exquisitely modern about this, the elevation of attitude over action as the primary marker of virtue.”

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  12. Halloween is rapidly approaching. I instinctively suffer from Halloween anxiety every year because it was my daughter’s favourite festival (out of all of the British + Chinese ones that she had to choose from, which is a lot) (and still is), and I always felt responsible for trying to make it a happy and memorable occasion for her. When she was 4, she was humiliated and traumatised because my wife made her dress up as a pretty little pink butterfly, totally missing the whole point – that was when I put my foot down and took over responsibility, declaring that she was supposed to be horrible and ghastly, not all girlie, cute and pink, and that in future Daughter could be whatever she wanted to be.

    The following year it turned out that she wanted to be a vampire, and she was excellent at it. And happy. She scared the living shit out of all of the little boys in the neighbourhood, at her school, and at the kids’ party we took her to, which gave her enormous satisfaction and boosted her self esteem no end. Some of her best friends, Chinese girls the same age, also made excellent vampires, so they ganged up and hunted as a pack, and put the fear of death into all of the local little bully boys. Candies? Meh, they were just a minor side benefit – it was terrifying the boys speechless that was the real prize. Halloween instantly became her favourite thing and has remained so ever since.

    Dea Poirier (@DeaPoirierBooks, which is evidently an erm thing to do with erm books) definitely has the right idea: “Stop buying plastic skeletons for Halloween. It is terrible for the environment. Locally sourced, all natural skeletons are much more environmentally friendly.” Quite right too. They’re not doing anything useful – dig ’em up, they’re an under-utilised resource.

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    1. Funny story told by a bloke who had heard of Halloween but didn’t know the customs: When some young girls knocked on his door and said “Trick or treat?”, he replied “I would like a treat”, at which point they became really scared. 🙂

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  13. If John et al are interested in
    engineering from Finland meeting the convoluted American gun laws, try watching “BRP recreates a classic: the Stemple Suomi ” at Youtube.
    Ian McCollum is as usual so enthusiastic that it is contagious.
    If he was lecturing about some obscure iron age culture layer he might get people to take archaeology classes.

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    1. No offence, Birger, but I have zero interest in American gun laws.

      I never intend to set foot in any part of the USA ever again, and what they do to each other in their own country is their problem, just as long as they confine it within their own borders, rather than exporting it to the world like they usually do.

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    2. I relented and watched it + the one where he fires the damn things – I needed something to listen to with one ear while doing my Flamenco finger exercises, and that was as good as anything.

      So you can actually buy a fully automatic submachine gun with a 70 round, quick change magazine in the USA for not much money. It’s official – Americans are stark raving mad, the whole bloody lot of them.

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  14. Of Swedes 16 and older, 79 % have had the second vaccine dose.
    The other news are boring in a positive way; no major calamity, just celebrities doing stuff the newspapers think we will find interesting.

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  15. So *that* typhoon is now pretty much leaving us alone.

    Comments and ad hoc analysis after the event by opinion writers and commenters in the MSM convinces me that less than 1% of them have any critical thinking ability or understanding of the way things work here with the weather warnings and such, which is all rather depressing. Only one person, out of all of the commenters and none of the journalists, had the wit to observe that the scaffolding that killed the female worker should not have collapsed when it did, and wanted to know why – so I answered that one person, as a reward – s/he deserved an explanation, so I gave one.

    And the ones who think they are the smartest are also those who are the most cynical. Typical comment: “They only issued the no. 8 strong wind signal because the civil servants felt like a day off”, missing the point that the no. 8 was issued and remained in force only for yesterday, which was Saturday, which is not a normal working day for civil servants (i.e. other than those who had emergency duties to attend to, which was me for 31 years), and also while it might have been relatively less windy where they were because they were sheltered by topography, it was blowing really hard all day at our place. [I feel like writing an extension to Dunning-Kruger; something about cynicism.]

    [I also feel like writing something about the ‘hive mind’ assumption about the government. The HK Observatory is staffed by dedicated and competent meteorologists who are not in the habit of issuing weather warnings just to gratify civil servants (or anyone else), of which there are about 180,000. But you keep seeing cynical comments from people who assume that the ‘government’ thinks and acts as a single entity, when the reality is that it is made up of 180,000 individuals.]

    Anyway, our next typhoon is due to arrive two days from now. Yes, I know, it’s almost midway through October. Hottest September on record, so I assume the sea surface temperatures are higher than ‘past normal’. So we have a window of two days to get all of the stuff done that we need to get done, before we have to lock everything down again. I can’t really complain – we have had a summer free of typhoons, so getting two in a row now is just like balancing the books for the year. I guess this could be the new normal.

    For anyone who has not been able to read all of the papers and try to fit all of the pieces together (which admittedly has been very difficult and time consuming), this paper is very good revision. You can just about forget all of that other stuff and just read this. It’s a long read, but you get it all in one lump, pretty much. There is some less certain stuff that does not get addressed, but that is fair enough – they can only summarise what is the current consensus. The authors include Johannes Krause and Qiaomei Fu, who are *very* reliable people. I’m less familiar with the other two authors. And yes, I do think it is significant that three of the four authors are Chinese and based in China. Krause is in Leipzig. Geneticists in the USA have been right to worry about being overtaken by Chinese scientists; it’s happening, and it’s all peer reviewed and kosher.

    Insights into human history from the first decade of ancient human genomics
    https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abi8202

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  16. Electric monks…
    Getting into the turbulent waters of religion again- the “Apostate prophet” and a muslim (NOT Haqiqadju- this guy seems decent)
    have had a recent debate published at Youtube.
    .
    What stuck in my mind is that the world is like a toy railway or computer game for the god: everything is predetermined, at the same time life is just a test for the humans to see if they follow the commands. And god has already decided if they will follow or not.
    No one can believe unless Allah wills it, and those who disbelieve do this because they are predetermined to do so.
    Afterwards, those who were predetermined to fail will spend eternity in hell.
    This is not hadith, this is the koran but most muslims are unaware of this stuff.
    (I might add that the original OT god did not have much problems with child sacrifice or genocide, details most Christians ignore; doublethink is by no means confined to islam.
    -The jews solve the ethical dilemmas by saying it’s all methaphors, zod is not really the dick described in the scriptures).
    .
    Of course, in the future people will deal with this by leaving religion to Electric Monks* so they can get on with their lives.
    *Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency , by Douglas Adams.

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  17. Fun fact: In “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” with stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen, you can find a pre-Dr Who Tom Baker, as well as a young Caroline Munro.
    (the one in the helicopter trying to shoot Bond’s car to ribbons while Roger Moore is swaying from one side of the road to the other).

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  18. Venus will rise higher in the evening sky and grow brighter during autumn. Jupiter and Saturn will also be clearly visible during a clear night (but a growing Moon will outshine everything in a week, so hurry up and watch).

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  19. Archaeologists and geneticists agree that all modern humans originated somewhere.

    Linguists are more divided on the issue.

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  20. Speaking of Beakers, that Bell Beaker Blogger Bugger was less than prolific last year, but promised to be much more active this year. Then he dropped off the radar – just vanished. I assume it’s serious. He was of the older variety and in the UK, so I presume the worst.

    Slightly odd last post: https://bellbeakerblogger.blogspot.com/2021/05/claiming-landcape-tempo-of-mega.html

    He had that annoying habit of taking up discussions started elsewhere, without giving the whole story or where they had started, so trying to follow the narrative was frustrating. Also citing references without giving links, as if “everyone interested in the Beaker phenomenon already knows.”

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  21. The return of the Beaker folk? Rethinking migration and population change in British prehistory.
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/return-of-the-beaker-folk-rethinking-migration-and-population-change-in-british-prehistory/ABF13307796A0476353FA8D2DA38A21A

    Odd title, but well worth downloading and reading the paper, which is very readable. Of particular note are the cessation of farming activity and evident drop in population before the (inferred) start of the arrival of Beaker people from the continent, accompanied by a seeming almost frantic period of monument building and/or remodelling. But there is little to no evidence of violent conflict between Beaker people arriving and the pre-existing population; in fact there is a lot more evidence of violence among the Neolithic population before the Beaker people began to arrive, although how they determine that is hard to discern due to the practice of cremation before the arrival of Beaker Bods.

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    1. I think the odd title because apparently quite a few British archaeologists have been challenging the extent of population turnover after the arrival of Beaker people in Britain, failing to understand what can be inferred with certainty from genetic evidence – one genome doesn’t just tell you about one person, it tells you about all of his/her ancestors, at least going back several generations. If the first Beaker Bods arrived in ~2450BC, within a few hundred years there had been a 93% population turnover – that is absolutely clear from the genetic evidence. And it might have happened a lot more quickly than that.

      On the other hand, it was a migration of both Beaker males and females, not some violent male mediated invasion, and they were migrating into landscapes which had been emptied of people to a considerable extent. The locals were swamped genetically. But they did not all just disappear – that 93% had some Neolithic ancestry; within that few hundred years there had been thorough mixing between the Beaker people and what remained of the pre-existing people. And some pockets of the pre-existing people persisted – the 7%.

      People really don’t like their ‘established’ theories being exploded by the bombshell of the discovery of the population turnover. And if history is anything to go by, they will not be persuaded, no matter the evidence or argument. They will just have to die believing they are right.

      Not all are unwilling to admit they were wrong. Renfrew openly accepts now that his Anatolian origin for Indo-European languages was wrong. Those are people to admire, because they are persuadable by new evidence and they get on board with it, lifting the whole field.

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  22. The not-a-real-Nobel-prize prize in economics has been rewarded to three researchers who apparently found better ways to interpret data.
    .
    Origin of the hijab.
    Muhammed’s close friend Umar (who went on to become the second caliph) knew very well M. was making stuff up.
    Umar wanted women to cover up everything except the eyes. He kept nagging at the prophet, and lo and behold! Muhammed got a relevation that women should wear the hijab.
    So the creator of the universe took orders from Muhammed’s friend?
    Remember, the koran is supposed to be uncreated, and in existence from the beginning of time. Yet it responds to Umar’s wishes!
    All of this is documented in multiple hadith graded “sahih”, the highest grade of reliability.
    I will dig up the list of hadith references in case anyone doubts.
    .
    This stuff deserves to be widely circulated, abrahamic religions are full of weak points but this looks like one of the weakest I have come across.
    “Dude, your wives need to cover up”.
    Next day: ” Verily, the Lord of the Cosmos has revealed to me all women should cover up themselves”.

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  23. A fossil pre-human footprint has been discovered on Crete, dated to 6.05 Myr ago. This is more than 2 Myr older than “Lucy “.

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  24. Birger, are you familiar with the Resident Evil series of films, ‘starring’ the appalling Milla Jovovich? (Jovovich’s acting is so deplorably bad that she made Jehanne d’Arc come across as dislikable and unsympathetic in the 1999 film The Messenger, pretty much the opposite of contemporary accounts of the Maid of Orléans.)

    No matter how bad you might imagine the Resident Evil films could be, seven in all, they are all actually much worse.

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    1. Yeah, I considered if they fit in as “So bad it’s good”.
      But no, they are actually dull.
      On one hand, if you are familiar with stuff presented by ‘God Awful Movies (The Vultures of Horror, International Guerrillas, assorted evangelical films) you may appreciate the camera is depicting what it is supposed to depict; Milla Jovovich is never obscured by furniture or trees during a crucial scene.
      The sound guy seems decent; the dialogue is not obscured by an epic conflict of flocks of poultry in the background (I swear, some GAM films have had that).
      So if you are familiar with genuine bottom-feeder films this looks competent.
      Yet despite the technical skills, the films are turkeys; lots of flapping, no take-off.

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  25. The name of our current typhoon is Kompasu, which is the Japanese word for…wait for it…compass.

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  26. Population genetics is so childishly simple that I will just leave this as an exercise for the reader:

    Quantifying the relationship between genetic diversity and population size suggests natural selection cannot explain Lewontin’s Paradox.
    https://elifesciences.org/articles/67509

    For those who can’t be bothered to look, the paradox referred to is that the genetic variation among a population (of any life form including humans) is a lot less than predicted by neutral theory, and no one can figure out why, although many have tried.

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  27. Birger, have you ever tried this?

    https://www.makeuseof.com/what-is-landscape-astrophotography-tips-for-beginners/?utm_source=MUO-NL-RP&utm_medium=newsletter

    It would be a waste of time for me to try – there is so much ambient light at night where I am that I can walk all around my home in the middle of the night without needing to turn a light on, including doing things like pouring myself a glass of water without spilling it. I can get any number of ‘nightscapes’ of man-made lighting, but astrophography, forget it.

    It seems to me that not only do you seem to be relatively well placed geographically to have a crack at it, but you could also explain to people what they are seeing in the resulting photographs. You need a good wide angle lens on a camera on which you can set the aperture and control the timing of the exposure, though, preferably on a tripod and with a remote control shutter release button (which are cheap to buy). That is all assuming that it is not too cold for you to be out at midnight doing it.

    It’s a pity they didn’t post this article at the beginning of summer, rather than waiting until it is too cold to stand around outdoors doing photography at high latitudes – bad timing on their part. Even in central Australia, it gets bloody cold at night in inland areas.

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  28. Those are beautiful images!
    I especially recall photos takes with the full moon framing a tree on a distant hilltop or even an animal.
    But taking landscape astrophotography to the next level is where you show the disc of a planet popping up next to the moon. Obviously the most famous example is te one Apollo 8 took of “Earthrise” above the moon, but there are others.
    A photo of the disc of Jupiter peeking out behind the moon clearly show that Jupiter is far from the sun -despite Jupiter having a high albedo and the moon having a very low, the disc of the moon that is visible shines with a much greater intensity, while the colours of Jupiter looks washed-out and dark. This is because Jupiter only gets 4% of the sunlight we get.
    Another fun example of contrast is an image a space probe took of the Earth when the moon passed in front of it. One obvious impression is, the far side of the moon is very dull -it has no “oceans” apart from the tiny Moscow Sea . The other impression is how dark the moon is, like an ugly ball of wet cement contrasted with the bright blue and white of the Earth.

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  29. This from four months ago.
    Mufti Abu Layth that is one of the most sympathic and reasonable muslims I have found on the internet -he got subjwcted to a hate and slander campaign that culminated with a gang raiding his apartment and scaring his wife and daughters (this was in Britain, so the police actually reacted to the intrusion)
    ”How haters cut and paste Mufti’s video and tweets | Mufti Abu Layth”

    And that is why muslims cannot have any nice things. When they aren’t harassed by racists, they get harassed by hard-liners that think they are not muslim enough. 😦

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  30. These are the people the hardliners want muslims to follow…. Yeah. No place for a muslim Galileo (the mutazilites of 1000 years ago were more reasonable interpreters than the current islamic interpreters of the quran). I make this point because the west is the best place for thinking mulims to be. And they need our support.
    ”Saudi Cleric Says Sun Orbits the Earth”

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  31. This is the last entry on the topic of islam for now.
    Notice, if you have the right connections you can push a god around.
    ”The Origin of the Hijab – Allah Takes Orders From a Man”

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  32. A few words about the economy prize: it is about getting information from an ‘unintentional experiment’ like setting loose a highly contagious pandemic with charasteristics significally different from known pandemics in the past.
    Or doubling atmospheric CO2 in a very complex climate system.
    In this context, these researchers were a surprisingly obvious choice.

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  33. Right now, Swedish TV has a documentary about the book-burning emperor with the terracotta soldiers. One hour is not enough to even begin scratching on the surface of the topic.

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  34. For the benefit of John. This is both crazier and more entertaining than Resident Evil.
    Cutie Honey- Review by Decker Shado .

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    1. I got the black screen of “This video is unavailable”, but did a search and got a version I could watch. Outcome: I love Cutie Honey. And the policewoman. Or anything with slender, attractive Japanese girls. Who cares what it’s about?

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    1. Black screen as above, but this time I had no title I could search, so no idea what this one is about. If it was more slender Japanese girls in their underwear, I feel deprived.

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  35. Statistics revisited.
    We are seeing a small downward trend in patients in hospitals with COVID, both ordinary patients and those in ICU.
    The downward trend in deaths seems bigger, but there is a longer statistical lag time, everything after October 1st can change.

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  36. The link was to a review of the trashy but fun (in an insane way) about the superheroine Cutie Honey a live action film based on a manga.
    .
    No sex, but demented action scenes (The villain is using the long hair as a limb to grab and slam people about). I assume there is some algorithm in place that considers the name too risque.
    .
    “The End of October” by Lawrence Wright is about a pandemic.
    The prose is stilted like a Tom Clancy novel but is effective in conveying a huge amount of information about infectious diseases.
    If there is a literary award for successful didactic literature, Wright has earned it.
    .
    I keep having insomnia, and even took out a vacation day now to recover. There are no good sleeping tablets around, not without side effects. I understand now why a certain late black singer took medical risks to get some shuteye.
    .
    A boring suborbital journey took three redshirts and a starship captain on a journey today. It would have been hilarious if Shatner had been the only survivor
    (note to non-nerds: the Starfleet members with red uniforms died like flies in the original Star Trek).

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  37. The Swedish pathologist Johan Hultin played a big role in untangling the secret of the ‘Spanish flu’.
    In 1951 he went to an Alaskan outpost where victims had been buried in permafrost. The technology of the time did not work for isolating the virus, but half a century later he got in touch with Jeffrey Tautenberger near DC.
    Hultin flew back to Alaska, cut out the lungs of a victim and brought them to Tautenberger, after which the virus was revived (sending them by air mail was in retrospect crazy dangerous).

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  38. Just in : some nutcase with bow and arrows murdered five random strangers in Kongsberg, Norway.
    The murderer has been detained.

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