247 thoughts on “Open Thread For December”

  1. Good news.
    The Universities of Umeå and Lund have made a big survey of the effects of the booster (3rd) vaccine shot.
    They confirm a big improvement of the number of antibodies among all, including the crucial group of elderly who live in elder-care homes.

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  2. I just read that Victorians showed off their wealth through big formal gardens, and even hired old men to live there as “hermits”.
    A new niche for elderly who wants to keep working past retirement age? I suppose you need a proper Gandalf-style look.

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  3. Fun facts about the battle of Buna at New Guinea: it is one of the most malaria-infested places in the world.
    The water table is just 3 feet under the surface, so trenches got filled with water.

    The battles took place during the wet season, with daily rainfall of 250 mm not uncommon, making all trails muddy.
    The temperature in the kuna grass could reach 50°C.
    Up to 85-95% of allied soldiers carried malaria during the battle. Supplies of quinine were unreliable. Dengue fever, scrup typhus, tropical ulcers, dysentery and fungal
    infections were also common, with 4.8 men hospitaliserad for sickness for every battle casuality, 75% of the cases were malaria.
    As usual Japanese losses were high, but here most soldiers died from disease.
    The japanese garrison was starved into submission and at the end there was cannibalism of the dead.
    There is much written about how awful the war in North Africa was, or on the East Front, but Buna seems to have been the worst of the worst, in terms of non-combat factors trying to kill everyone on both sides.

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    1. In general the fighting in PNG was characterised by disease casualties among the Australians outnumbering the number killed or wounded in battle plus the number who were captured and then brutally executed by the Japanese, e.g. by being beaten and then disembowelled with a sword (this was witnessed on a couple of occasions by concealed Australian soldiers who were withdrawing just ahead of the Japanese advance).

      Because of the latter, the Australians themselves became brutalised and adopted a ‘take no prisoners’ mindset. They also engaged in some very dirty tricks, e.g. during the strategic withdrawal along the Kokoda Track they would leave deliberately poorly concealed stashes of food (which they had contaminated with faeces from their own diseased soldiers) for the poorly supplied Japanese to find and sicken themselves with.

      The Australians who came back from the fighting in PNG were physical wrecks who didn’t live long lives. As a very small child I met a few of them and have never forgotten it.

      After completing my first work contract in HK I was feeling ambivalent about returning for a second one, and I had been offered a job working as a consultant in Papua New Guinea. I knew my Australian ex-boss had worked in PNG for a short period, so I phoned him to ask for his advice on what to do. He responded immediately and with great emphasis: “Go back to Hong Kong. Don’t even think about going to PNG.” He didn’t explain why, but he didn’t need to, really.

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  4. Fuuuuck!
    Just since the last data release, the number of covid patients in hospital in Sweden have increased with 78, all but 11 in Stockholm.
    Just use face masks, dumbasses! It is not over yet.

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    1. That’s going to happen with Omicron. Hopefully a lower percentage will get severe illness and/or die.

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  5. (And now I accidentally liked my own post again)
    A skeleton of a man killed by the tsunami 3600 years ago when Santorini/Thera exploded has been found in Turkey.

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    1. I see that they changed the official name back to Thera, but it is still popularly called Santorini (after St Irene, whoever she was).

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  6. I can’t remember if I posted this link, but if not I should have – I think I might not have, because it was a second paper on the Etruscans involving a bigger sample that didn’t really change much the findings of an earlier paper on a smaller sample, which I know I did post a link to. (My memory is noticeably failing a bit – if I repeat myself, please remind me.)

    Basically, genetically but not linguistically or culturally, Etruscans = Romans = Latins during the Republic. Imperial Rome got a lot more incomers from the eastern Mediterranean, for the obvious reason that quite a lot of people from conquered regions gravitated towards Rome, much more so from the east than from the west (but then if you know what Julius Caesar did in Gaul, that is not particularly surprising). That is now not a big reveal (although it is still disputed by some because the Etruscan language seems to have been a non-Indo-European linguistic isolate), but it is a very interesting paper nonetheless, particularly for anyone interested in that period of history, and it is very readable for anyone with a passing acquaintance with modern genetics (or a pretty good introduction for anyone without).

    The origin and legacy of the Etruscans through a 2000-year archeogenomic time transect.
    https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abi7673

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  7. The R0 for transmissability of covid variants.
    Original variant was 2.5, delta just under 7. Omricon may be as high as 10. In that case we will need a 100% vaccine coverage because herd immunity will not be possible.

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  8. Betty White from “The Golden Girls” will turn 100 on January 17th.
    .
    Carbon dioxide can be turned into another stable chemical in just 4 steps.
    .
    Recent simulations provide simple explanation for the formation of planetesimals, and the distinct classes of planets.

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  9. What I have been fearing but expecting has happened – HK now has community transmission of Omicron, and there is no chance of controlling it. None.

    Thanks very much to three Cathay Pacific male flight attendants on two flights from the USA, one from Chicago and the other from Anchorage, who broke the rules to isolate at home between flights, and between them managed to visit no less than 60 restaurants, bars and other places of business in the space of three days before testing positive and being put into isolation. So far, only two people are known to have been infected by one of these stupid selfish bastards, but there are certain to be many others who are not yet known.

    So that’s it – we’re screwed.

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  10. An old but goody – it starts out with Andrews Sisters style (but vocally inferior) singing, then things turn very weird. The 1940s were in a parallel universe.

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  11. The Andrews Sisters claimed that they were made to record the song Rum and CocaCola at short notice, and didn’t realise it was about prostitution.

    Yeah, right. I was only a little kid the first time I really listened to it, but the meaning of the lyrics was unmistakeable to me even then. I couldn’t believe that they kept playing it on the radio. It was a huge hit. And they kept on playing it year after year, long after the Andrews Sisters had broken up – it was one of the first songs that really seeped into my consciousness. I still find it incredible that they kept plugging it when the meaning of the lyrics was abundantly obvious.

    https://genius.com/The-andrews-sisters-rum-and-coca-cola-lyrics

    And people had the nerve to find Elvis Presley offensive when he shot to infamy. I found him offensive for a different reason – his singing made my skin crawl (to use a common Cantonese expression).

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      1. Another example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poupée_de_cire,_poupée_de_son

        Much is of course lost in translation. The Wikipedia article explains some double entendres (which, by the way, is a term not used in French*), but even I, with my limited command of French, noticed some not mentioned in that article.

        *French phrases in English a) can be the same as in French (c’est la vie), b) can be correct french but with a different meaning (negligee, a la mode), c) can be grammatically correct but not understood by people who speak only modern French (since the idiomatic meaning is not used in French), or might once have been proper French but have died out in modern French but not in English. Not to mention law French and so on.

        Interesting that many pairs of words, such as “aiding and abettting”, “will and testament”, “breaking and entering”, “assault and battery” with the idea that one is Anglo-Saxon, one is French, so that the accused understands the accusation.

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    1. The original lyrics to “Tutti Frutti” were also rather different:

      While searching for an example, I ran across a website which unwittingly cited that as “the seminal Little Richard hit”. 🙂

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      1. I actually knew that one. Amazingly, my father, who detested anything except classical music, had an old 78 record of Little Richard with Tutti Frutti on one side and Long Tall Sally on the other. I played the hell out of that thing on the gramophone that Dad had built from ‘spare parts’ that he had ‘borrowed’ from the Australian army when he was discharged at the end of WWII. He was a genius at making things, e.g. he picked up some cheap pick-ups to stick on my first guitar, and built me an amplifier to plug it into, all glowing valves and whatever. The feedback was dreadful, but whatever.

        Anyway, I found out only a few years back that the Long Tall Sally in the Little Richard song referred to a transvestite.

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  12. Betty White passed away this morning, just weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday.
    She started her career in 1939.

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