158 thoughts on “Open Thread For June”

  1. Gatwick has the same kind of delays as so many other airports in the world. Now I am waiting for bojo to blame it on EU.
    .
    Media has been full of BS about an AI that has a lot of ‘skills’ .
    But it is just a bunch of neural networks that have been trained for a lot of tasks.
    We are still very very far from a general artificial intelligence (GAI).
    .
    The latest issue of New Scientist to arrive at the library had a big article about the plague, including the risk it might become immune to extant antibiotics.

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  2. Since kids are much easier to find books to than adults, I keep an eye on discount books written for the categories 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 years (I have relatives in this age brackets).

    If Martin or someone else in Sweden has kids/nephews/nieces in these age demographics let me know, and I will give you a heads-up if I find some classic that is discounted 50% or more.
    If I find something like a 1-kg book about dinosaurs or aircraft for 40 kr, it is *a lot* of reading for the money. And -using myself as an example- getting curiosity stimulated early pays off in a big way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you have teenagers or young adults at home you can do worse than giving them the early seasons of Blake’s 7 to watch.
    Also “In the Red” with Warren Clarke and Rik Mayall, to just mention two series who deserve a re-run.
    The Brits have produced a lot of good stuff across the decades- they did not have cretins like The Moral Majority sabotaging TV.

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  4. France and Spain suffer extreme heat. Some parts experience the worst heat in 40 years. This shall be considered in the context of the very severe summer that hit western Europe a couple of years before COVID, and led to a major peak of mortality for elderly people.

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  5. The hot air in Spain and France is getting pushed eastwards, giving people and nature a much needed relief from high temperatures.

    Up here (and in much of Finland) there will be plenty of rain all Saturday (200 km to the south, they have already received thunderstorms).
    I am not complaining, I recall the summer of drought and forest fires a year before COVID.
    .
    The Republican governor of Arkansas hopes the party will find an “off-ramp” from Trump. I fear he is too optimistic.

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      1. It’s hard not to be a doomer about the U.S. Desantis sent me a request for a contribution talking about liberal insults; a emailed back some highly obscene liberal insults. In the section of Georgia a few miles away from me Marjorey Taylor Greene will undoubtedly be re-elected. At least Trumps unfavorable rating is up but he only needs 49% of the vote to win if he runs. I’m not quite going to go so far as to say as a Facebook friend did, that if there is a WWIII and we are bad guy who will save the world from us.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot recall if I already brought up this old film with Gene Simmons in a role, but to make sure here is a link. It is glorious.

    or possibly

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      1. Yes. The previous (explanatory) comment is in limbo because it contains two links.
        The film is the one where Gene Simmons was baddie.

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  7. The COVID virus is increasing in the sewage in several cities, including Stockholm. The highest rate is in UmeAAARRRGH!

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  8. I’m currently ‘reviewing’ a contract document to build a pedestrian underpass beneath a major highway in the northern New Territories.

    I am doing it because I need the money. I’m certainly not doing it because I enjoy it.

    Example of why I am not enjoying it: under fire safety, the specification says that the underpass needs to be equipped with a fire extinguisher attached to the wall every 50 m.

    The subway is 45 m long.

    Sorry, I just had to vent that somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. …and 6 buckets of dry sand within 30 m of the underpass entrance – I assume that means at both ends, because it has two entrances, one at each end. So these 12 buckets of sand will pass each other on the way to being installed.

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  9. There is lethally crazy, and there is just annoyingly crazy. I know which side Ted Cruz et al are on…
    .

    It has been suggested carbon dioxide can easily (and reversibly) be sequestred as formic acid (molecular mass 46g/mol).
    .
    It has occurred to me this would (in a very distant future) be useful for terraforming Venus, formic acid has nearly the same melting and boiling points as water.
    A sunshade in space could cool down the atmosphere and surface.
    As the temperature at the poles reach 0°C it would be possible to add hydrogen (4.3% by weight) and freeze most of the atmosphere as formic acid glaciers.
    At this point the greenhouse effect will be gone and it will be possible to cool the crust to the same temperature as Earth on a relatively short geological time frame (cooling a 20-40km vertikal kolumn of rock by several hundred degrees takes time).
    A supercivilization able to build a sunshade would presumably not have a problem transporting 24 tons of hydrogen per square m of surface area to Venus.
    I leave the problem of spinning up the rotation to sharper minds than my own.

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  10. Omricon variant BA.5 is spreading despite the summer.
    A rapid increase is expected by August and September.
    There is not yet data to make strong predictions about how severe the effects will be, or at least I have not found it in Swedish literature.

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  11. ‘”No thanks, I’m a vegetarian” is a fun thing to say when somebody tries to hand you their baby’.

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  12. Parts of northern Italy have not had rains for 100 days, and now they get the heat that was pushed east from Spain and France.

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    1. We’re expecting 38C weather here and it’s been fairly dry. Must be tough in a lot of places.

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      1. The number of COVID patients in Stockholm has dropped from 138 to 122 in a week.
        Half of the patients are in hospital for something else, so those with serious symptoms are less than 122.
        .
        Dry heat is essential for staying alive in this kind of heat, but the elderly may not be able to control the temperature by sweating so expect higher mortality.
        If politicians had cared about people since 1980 everyone would be able to afford AC but the economic growth went to the 1%, so fuck you all.

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      2. The elderly can substitute for sweating by wiping themselves with a cool damp cloth.

        Drinking a can of really icy cold CocaCola can help too. Seriously. It’s the only time I advocate drinking Coke. But it needs to be really cold.

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  13. https://theconversation.com/black-death-how-we-solved-the-centuries-old-mystery-of-its-origins-185423

    “Importantly, ancient plague strains found today in marmot colonies in Tian Shan plague reservoirs are evolutionarily even older than the Kara-Djigach strain. Therefore, we conclude that the Kara-Djigach strain must have evolved locally in marmot colonies within the extended Tian Shan region, rather than being introduced into the Kara-Djigach community from some faraway origin. At some point, the bacteria simply crossed over to human inhabitants of the region.”

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  14. Stuart Ritchie (the psychologist, not the footballer) is one of those Edinburgh Scots who speaks and writes English better than the English. It’s pity that I have no interest in most of what he writes about, because his writing is enjoyable to read, and if you don’t want to read, his substack offers the alternative of podcasts – all free of charge.

    In this very long piece he investigates the numerous emerging claims that psychedelics offer promising treatments for various mental illnesses.

    https://stuartritchie.substack.com/p/psychedelics

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  15. If you check the Pharyngula blog you can read
    “A surprisingly accurate online IQ test” about a White power nut who completely misread the result of an IQ test.
    😊

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  16. The group of killers in “Predators” are way smarter than the scientists in “Prometheus”.

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  17. Lecture by Prof. David Reich – “The Genetic History of the Southern Arc: A Bridge between West Asia & Europe”.
    https://iias.huji.ac.il/event/david-reich-lecture

    It’s an abstract for a lecture. Davidski (aka the Polish guy David) at the Eurogenes blog is really not happy with it, because he thinks that David Reich has got it all wrong. I wouldn’t mind betting Davidski is right, he is very smart.

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  18. Note: “Mycenaean Greece starts at 1750 BC, so probably at least 500 years [later] at least from the major penetration of Indo-Europeans, so that’s 20 generations or so.”

    So Mycenaeans for sure were speaking an Indo-European language, and Minoans were genetically very similar to Mycenaeans, so they likely were too – even if we can read out loud what they wrote without having a clue what we are saying. Probably stuff like: “Hey, are you going to the bull-jumping tomorrow? It should be great.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Note also: “For Han-French divergence, the model with the highest composite likelihood was one with a split time of 1505 generations (i.e. 43,645 years ago assuming 29 years per generation).”

    I don’t know why they used Han and French – probably just as proxies for East Asians and Europeans. Anyway, the split time is pretty far back, but can’t be more than 50,000 years ago, because both got Neanderthal admixture.

    So the distance between me and my wife is currently a couple of metres and about 45,000 to 50,000 years. That would explain why we still have no idea what each other is talking about. And our daughter can’t understand either of us.

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  20. This is all getting too hard for me to keep following. Unless someone comes out with another really good book or long read essay for lay readers, I might give up on trying to keep up with it all.

    Years ago, geneticists postulated two ‘ghost’ populations to explain what they were seeing: Ancient North Eurasians and Basal Eurasians.

    Subsequently they did find a real actual Ancient North Eurasian – the remains of a little boy, in Siberia. So they were real people, they ranged right across northern Eurasia and contributed ancestry to both modern Europeans and Native Americans.

    No one has been able to find a Basal Eurasion or even been able to figure out where they might have lived. They were postulated to be early out of Africa people with no Neanderthal admixture. Now people are starting to find that they don’t need them to have existed to explain what they are seeing. So maybe they never existed. I think it is most probable that they did not exist. Life would definitely be simpler if we could give up trying to find one.

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  21. I don’t pretend to understand or care about any of this, it all just makes me fall around laughing. I do know that a lot of white virtue-signalling lefties in San Francisco are opposed to building any new housing in their impossibly highly priced neighbourhoods because it would “spoil the character”. Anyway, AOC is coming for them, so it looks like their days are numbered.

    https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/the-left-nimby-meltdown

    Liked by 2 people

  22. HK’s famed floating restaurant has sunk in the South China Sea.

    It was an attraction in HK since 1976, moored in one of the typhoon shelters. Bloody big ornate thing. I went there a couple of times; you had to catch a boat out to get to it. The food was quite good, and the service was also quite good, but nothing really special.

    So, lately the owners were saying they couldn’t afford to keep it in HK because of the annual licensing and insurance costs, what with the pandemic and all. Actually, the truth was it had not been able to make a profit since 2013. People were just over it – it was sort of fun, but not that much fun. It didn’t seem to appeal to Mainland tourists much, with it’s just-OK but nothing special standard Cantonese food, which they could get in any decent restaurant without needing to take a boat ride to get to it.

    So, after the government declined to bail them out recently, two things happened. 1. The kitchen barge, which was a separate boat tethered to the big restaurant barge, suddenly capsized. No idea why. 2. Then the owners decided to pay some guys with tug boats to tow the restaurant barge to Cambodia (they initially declined to reveal where they were planning to take it to, but it turned out to be Cambodia, so they had to tow it through the South China Sea, around the south of Vietnam and up to Cambodia.) Right.

    This was never going to be a good idea, because even blind Freddy could see that thing was never designed to be seaworthy in the open ocean. It was just a gigantic top-heavy, multi-storied, flat-bottomed barge. But anyway, off it went.

    And then the news came that it struck some strong winds and 3m waves, shipped some water, turned over and sank in 1,000 m of ocean. Now all hell has broken loose, politicians demanding to know how the government could let this happen to such a precious piece of HK’s heritage, etc. Yeah, well where were they when it was making annual losses ever since 2013? Heavy hints are being dropped about “obvious insurance scam”. It does seem rather coincidental that first the kitchen barge suddenly overturned, and then the bloody thing sank in the middle of the South China Sea. At a depth of 1,000 m, it is estimated it would cost HK$10 million to salvage it. The owners don’t have $10 million, and clearly don’t want the bloody thing either. So I guess that might not happen.

    I’m just sitting back watching the circus. I don’t care whether they salvage it or not. It’s a pity that it’s gone, it was kind of picturesque and fun, sort of, but now that it has been inundated by that much seawater, the thing would be an absolute mess, even if they could refloat it. So I’m going to assume it’s just gone.

    There is another ‘floating’ restaurant, very near to our place, sticking out into the river. There is no danger of this one sinking though – it is sitting on a foundation of solid concrete.

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  23. If you want to read a very different -and surprisingly good- science fiction novel, I recommend “The Luminous Dead” by Caitlin Starling (no relative to Clarice Starling).
    .
    Speleologists have a hard job, especially if they must do cave diving to get past flooded sumps (just about the most dangerous job ever, as the silt reduces visibility to zero).
    Now, imagine the caves are on another planet. And there are strange big organisms who have the ability to “swim” through rocks, compacting them in the process (and making adjacent caves unstable and collapse in the process). Imagine these chtonian organisms react badly to the presence of humans, of which they become aware through unknown senses.
    .
    And the karst formations contain valuable minerals deposited through the strange geological processes on this world. So destitute or otherwise desperate colonists are hired to go down alone (more than one will attract the attention of the tunnelers with lethal consequences) and look for deposits.

    Now, imagine that the topside controller that communucates with and guides the cave diver -for a period of more than a week in the dark- has ulterior motives and is unreliable.
    .
    That is 411 pages of claustrophobia and paranoia. It should have been overlong, but I kept turning the pages.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Glad to report the 38C weather didn’t make it. We only got up to 36C and it hasn’t been as humid as it was supposed to be. It’s still hot enough to keep me inside, though.

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  25. Infrared cameras show the “drab” moths have elaborate bright patterns on their wings.
    .
    “Listeria- based booster improves vaccine’s protection against recurring colon cancer”.

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  26. The largest bacteria in the world has been found, growing on leafs sunken in the mangrove swamps in The Caribbean. They can be seen with the naked eye.
    The article is missing the important piece of information: can they run for political office? If so, will they be better or worse than current world leaders?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. And still they come.

    Assessing temporal and geographic contacts across the Adriatic Sea through the analysis of genome-wide data from Southern Italy.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0888754322001501?via%3Dihub#bb0085

    Take home messages: 1. Italy harbours the largest degree of genetic population structure identified in Europe so far. That has been known for quite a while – maybe no big surprise, considering it was the centre of the world in that part of the world for a long time. 2. Modern southern Italians are more like ancient Greeks (Pelepponese) than modern Greeks are like ancient Greeks. That is due to Greek settlements in southern Italy in ancient times, and mainland migration into Greece more recently.

    I have to head-scratch about where the ‘Iranian’ ancestry comes into it, but there is a lot now that I don’t understand. I guess Iranian = Persian, in which case it makes more sense to me.

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  28. Birger, sorry for my snarky email response recently.

    I get fed up with people (including medical people) assuming that I must be a heart attack risk, or whatever – I’m not. My heart is about the healthiest part of me.

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  29. LOL. The saga of the floating restaurant continues.

    First, a correction – it didn’t sink, it just overturned. But the towing company says it is too difficult to right it again and not worth it, so…wait for it…the owners and their insurance company have agreed to send down some divers to scuttle it. Sink it. To the bottom. One kilometre down. So it won’t be a hazard to shipping, I guess. Why the insurers should agree I have no idea, but evidently they have – I guess they prefer that than to have to pay for it to be righted and repaired; cheaper just to write the whole thing off.

    I now await the howls of anguish from those citizens who think it was a ‘tragedy’ that it ever left HK, and a ‘tragedy’ that it has overturned, as opposed to those citizens who think it is/was an eyesore/tourist trap and that the bottom of the South China Sea is the best place for it. Opinions appear to be roughly evenly divided.

    I can’t believe that the owners or the towing company ever really believed that they could tow it through all of that open ocean as far as Cambodia without what happened happening. It’s not credible – you only have to see the thing to know that.

    Anyway, for the moment the headline is: “Still afloat, but not for long.”

    They’d better hurry up and sink the thing before people start petitions: “Save our precious floating restaurant!”

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  30. No more Roe v. Wade and soon maybe more reversals of human rights by the. subpream court. I’m just surprised it didn’t happen three years ago. Women and others will be at the tender mercies of republican legislatures in many states of the union, including my home state, Tennessee. I may have to flee the country. Does Sweden take in refugees of right wing social oppression?

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  31. Under dry atmospheric conditions, the human body can become charged to several thousand volts of static electricity. If a person touches an earthed conductor, then the body discharges itself in the form of an arc. This effect can be quite spectacular in the Western Australian summer, which is intensely dry, particularly if you wear rubber soled shoes to insulate yourself from the earth, walk around for a while to get really charged up, then touch a car door handle. Not only will there be a visible electric arc between your hand and the handle, like a mini-lightning bolt, there will also be a clearly audible ‘crack’ and you will get an instantaneous sharp pain in your hand.

    When I lived at home with my parents and was engrossed, bare footed and well earthed as usual, in reading a newspaper or whatever, there was nothing my father loved to do more than walk around on the carpet in his rubber soled shoes for a good while, then sneak up behind me and touch his finger to my ear lobe, then chuckle happily as I peeled myself off the ceiling.

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  32. The hebrew name Yahua (I may have the spelling wrong) is translated as John (english) and Johannes (Swedish).
    The German version is Johann or Hans.
    There are a truckload of other very diverse versions in other languages.
    This case of language drift shows how hard it is to trace a language backwards.

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      1. Or maybe Yehohannan. Something like that – impossibly long and sounding like some Chinese guy clearing his throat prior to spitting.

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      2. No, Wikipedia tells me the Hebrew name is Yehochanan.

        Sounds even more like a Chinese guy clearing his throat prior to ejecting the ‘spit devil’.

        When I first came to HK and used to catch the Star Ferry between HK Island and Kowloon, I was always intrigued by the big notices up on the walls of the ferry. In English, they say (they’re still there): “No spitting.” In Chinese, there is a big long stream of Chinese characters. Before I could read any Chinese I was always puzzled why such a short message in English should be rendered such a long message in Chinese. So one day when I was with a Chinese guy I asked him about it, and he explained that the Chinese version doesn’t just say “Don’t spit”, it gives a lengthy explanation for why one should not spit in public (unhygienic, spreads disease, etc.).

        Men in HK no longer spit in public (they used to do it all the time when I first came here), or very rarely, and if anyone ever does, he’ll get a harsh telling off from the nearest Chinese female. Persuading Chinese males not to spit in public was one of the more successful government campaigns.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. There is a historic precedence for having thirteen judges on the US supreme court.
    But even if the Democrats get a supermajority in congress and have the power to increase the number of judges they will not do it.
    Because the Democrats are basically a conservative party and they will not rock the boat as that would stop the flow of corporate donations .
    Before the election Biden met with corporate leaders and ensured them a Democratic victory would not change anything. That is the one promise he has kept.
    After he won, he ruled out expanding the supreme court.
    The Democratic party is paralysed by indecision. The conservative leaders have no clue how to handle an aggressive fascist assault on the institutions.
    Biden, Pelosi et al have built their careers on making tepid bipartisan compromises. How do you make compromises with Sauron? It does not work.

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    1. When Pelosi was stationed in HK as a US trade representative, her idea of dealing with the Chinese was to shout harshly at them and demand that they agree to everything she wanted.

      It didn’t work. Anyone could have told her it wouldn’t.

      The US is doomed unless the progressives like AOC can get some kind of grip on power, which seems very unlikely.

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