Open Thread For March

National Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv, photo by its director Fedir Androshchuk, Tuesday morning, 1 March

I’ve known Dr. Fedir Androshchuk for decades while he’s lived mainly in Sweden. He is the world’s main authority on Scandinavian swords of the Viking Period. Last week I learned that Fedir is now the director of Ukraine’s National Museum and thus arguably one of the main custodians of the country’s past — a country under severe threat. Respect!


Author: Martin R

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

235 thoughts on “Open Thread For March”

  1. “The world according to Simon Stålenhag”

    – where I grew up there were structures from some facility that had to be abandoned when a new dam was built, I recognise the fascination for machinery and buildings left behind and being reclaimed by nature. Sort of like a milder version of the Zone in Stalker.


  2. Need to be quick, because I have been buried under an avalanche of work.

    HK Covid update:

    Our Omicron wave (labelled the 5th Covid wave) peaked on 2-3 March at 80,000 new known cases per day. This was very worrying, because it was shooting up exponentially as everywhere else, the hospitals were all overrun and had elderly patients lying on camp beds outside exposed to the cold and rain, and no one knew where it would stop.

    But that *was* the peak. By 3 April, new known cases per day were down to 3,000 – still too many, but 3,000 is a hell of a lot better than 80,000. Daily fatalities have dropped from 300+ to below 100 (and there is a lag – people die weeks after getting infected, so the daily fatalities should continue to drop). The hospitals are no longer overrun. The authorities have finally seen the light and are permitting people to isolate at home if they are only mildly ill or asymptomatic – they are under isolation orders, but no one is checking compliance, that I know of; they don’t have electronic tracking bracelets or anything.

    More than 1 million people are known to have been infected so far, about 15% of the total population. The actual number is obviously greater – estimates vary between another half a million to another million (and one ‘expert’ is claiming that 4 million have so far been infected; more than half of the population, which I don’t think is credible – but no one actually knows).

    Infamously, HK has had the highest case fatality rate in the developed world, for one single reason – although the % of the population who are fully vaccinated is higher than either the UK or USA, the vaccination of elderly people, particularly the 80+ age group, is still low, and it has mostly been the unvaccinated very elderly who have been dying. Why has this happened? Because their family members are blocking them from being vaccinated. I have become very suspicious of the reasons for that.

    One distressing note – a higher % of kids who are hospitalised with Omicron have been dying from it than typically die from influenza. Like influenza (except for the Spanish Flu), Covid disproportionately takes out the very old and the very young. A lot of the kids die from brain swelling.

    A curious note to finish on – Shanghai is currently fully locked down because they have a big outbreak (by China’s standards – it would be a small outbreak in most other countries), and they are obviously testing the whole population of 21 million multiple times over (the way China can and does), and they have an anomalously high percentage of people who test positive multiple times but remain asymptomatic and never develop any symptoms. Shanghai has a young, healthy and fully vaccinated population, though. People go there to work from all over China, so it is unusually high in young, healthy and relatively affluent (and intelligent) people.


  3. In USA it is a lot of peer pressure from idiots to not take the vaccine and not wear face masks.
    This idiocy is supported from the top by opportunistic governors like the putzes* in Florida and Texas.

    *plural of putz? I cannot use the British unisex word C*nt because Mericans think it is a gendered slur. In reality it is like Jiddish schmuck and putz- gender no longer matter.


  4. Tucker Carlson (of Fox News) admits to liking young girls in leaked audio. I predict it will have no consequences for him even though the Repubs are prone ro accuse every Tom, Dick and Harry of being a paedo.


  5. Scatching Atheist 477 just came up at Youtube. On the subject of aliens
    they quote David Icke as as saying not all the Reptilians are evil, “only the Jewish ones. And I have so many follow up questions about that!” .


  6. There is a chance a guy in Australia is the son of a woman Charles bonked when he was 17 years old. Somehow, the prince is not eager to provide DNA.
    I realise the odds of an adopted 57 year old guy in Australia being next in line is low, but it would form the perfect companion piece to the Andrew underage rapes.


    1. Being illegitimate, he wouldn‘t be next in line. (In the old days, he could still pretend, and some major wars were fought over such things.)

      Someone quipped that Andrew’s only remaining title is “Rear Admiral”.


  7. Parts of Hong Kong are apparently built on top of the fossil remains of a 148 million year old supervolcano.


    1. Bloody big caldera, left when a supervolcano collapsed in on itself.

      All of the igneous rocks in HK, which make up most of it, date to around the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary. The volcanic rocks are mostly pyroclastic rocks, blasted out of the vents of volcanoes, although we do have some lavas. So back then, HK was a hellscape of exploding volcanoes, an area of intense vulcanism. The granites are intrusive rocks, plutons of magma that welled up and intruded into the volcanic rocks. The volcanic rocks are harder and more resistant to weathering than the granitoid rocks. So all of the many peaks in HK are volcanic rocks, with the lower hills and lower reaches of the high peaks being in granitoid rocks.

      We do have some other rocks, though, some much older ones. The area I am working in now is underlain by marble (metamorphosed limestone), meta-sandstones and meta-siltstones. It is a relatively flat area, so the rocks are overlain by a great thickness of alluvium. The marble and other Carboniferous rocks do not outcrop on the surface, although they extend into the adjacent area of Shenzhen where they do outcrop at the surface. You can only map where they are by drilling boreholes down through the alluvium into the underlying rocks.

      This area is to be the site of HK’s planned Northern Metropolis, being created to build a lot more high rise buildings to help to ease HK’s chronic housing shortage. One of the difficulties is that the marble dissolves readily in weak acid (such as you get when rainwater combines with carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid), so the surface of the marble sub-crop is karstic, and it contains solution cavities, some of them very large, and some of the areas with numerous solution cavities extend to great depths. Building high rise buildings on deep piled foundations which extend down into the cavitous marble is a tricky business. The nightmare scenario is if you sink a pile that rests on (or is actually socketed into) an overhang of hard marble that is underlain by a big cavity. Then when the building load is applied to the pile, it breaks through the overhang, with predictable results. There is definitely an art to designing and installing deep foundations in this area which will be safe to build on. We do know how, though.

      This is why I have been so busy lately. We have just tendered the first contract for advance works, to provide access to the area, while the necessary land resumptions are being done to acquire the land to build the new urban centre, so I have been spending endless hours checking contract documents. Not my favourite occupation, but it needs to be done by someone with the necessary skills to do it, and that’s me. I can’t complain – most people my age have already retired. I don’t see a point in retiring – and do what? Play computer games? Endlessly read the news about terrible things that I have no power to change? That’s just time-filling, waiting to die.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in the 2000s, an ex-friend of mine who worked (I use the term loosely) in the Australian federal government in Canberra asked me what I thought about carbon credits and offsets, and trading in carbon credits. My answer: “Just another form of corruption.” Nothing more to say.

      Looking back at what has happened, that was actually a pretty good answer.


  8. At “Noam Chomsky Fan Club” (Facebook) I found this quote.
    “The sheep will spend its entire life fearing the wolf, only to be eaten by the shepherd”.

    It reminds me of the cacaphony of fake news in the US or British political debates, not to mention even darker propaganda in places like Russia. The peons must be kept scared and misinformed, so they will vote against their interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yet again picking the very low-hanging fruit.

    Shit, this is misogynic like hell.


  10. Andrzej Sapkovski’s books about Geralt have been translated to Swedish, but I am told the humor in the original Polish did not travel well.
    It is today 61 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Putin is using this for propaganda purposes, but Gagarin was a much better human being than Putin or his supporters- as I have mentioned before, Gagarin used his prestige to help ordinary Soviet citizens who wrote to him about problems they faced.
    Boris Johnson will have to pay a fine for partying during the lockdown he himself had legislated. This may be the first time in his life that the law has held him to the same standard as commoners.


  11. A snowmobile (snow scooter as we call them) collided with a train at Vindeln, killing the driver.
    A problem with these vehicles is the users feel indestructible, driving much too fast and not keeping the ‘situational awareness’ needed as such speeds.


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