March Pieces Of My Mind #2

In the foreground, a characteristic Swedish archaeological site of the 20th century: the abandoned municipal ski slope. Its construction, use and abandonment all post-date the still-in-use 1913 building in the background. In the foreground, a characteristic Swedish archaeological site of the 20th century: the abandoned municipal ski slope. Its construction, use and abandonment all post-date the still-in-use 1913 building in the background.
  • "Qualitative research" seems largely to mean "anecdotal material with no statistical representativity".
  • I'm starting a support group for people who think the novel American Gods is not great, not bad, not particularly memorable.
  • Woah-ho, dude. Lucid dreaming is when you train yourself to a) know that you're dreaming, b) direct events in the dream. This researcher has learned to use a brain-computer interface to move a graphic block on his computer screen. Now he's falling asleep with the headband on and moving that block from inside lucid dreams.
  • The YWCA is named Kay-Fuck in Swedish. The YMCA is named Kay-Fum.
  • I knew that democratic countries never declare war on each other. Now I learn that democracies also never suffer severe famine. It's not a normative statement. It's an historical fact.
  • Listened to a podcast where a colleague probably tried to say that he avoids any reductive treatment of Native Americans, but actually consistently said "reductionist".
  • This detectorist I've been corresponding with has had a hard time convincing his local museum that what he's found is pretty damn important. I'm proud to say that I realised immediately what he had turned up. And now the guy has made further finds on the site that will make him impossible to ignore...
  • To the chagrin of certain teenagers, a broad coalition of local parents have negotiated a unified bid for when tonight's exciting party is ending: at midnight.
  • There's a huge recent amateurish mural in this auditorium. Wonder if it will one day be rediscovered behind plasterboard and treated as a valuable piece of cultural heritage. Dear great grandchildren, let me tell you that the generation that commissioned it thinks that it's embarrassing junk.
  • Movie: Sicario. Policewoman becomes spectator / viewpoint character in the CIA's obscure war against Mexican drug cartels. Grade: OK.
  • Movie: The Salesman. Marriage crisis and compromised masculine integrity after a married young woman is assaulted in her home. Grade: OK-but-why-did-this-get-an-Oscar.

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Wonder if it will one day be rediscovered behind plasterboard and treated as a valuable piece of cultural heritage

More likely it will be painted over by some other mural, and as the newer one fades with age, the older mural will become visible. At which point it will be hailed as one of the few (if not the only) surviving remnants of early 21st century Scandinavian art.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 21 Mar 2017 #permalink

In the foreground, a characteristic Swedish archaeological site of the 20th century: the abandoned municipal ski slope.

For six years I lived in a municipality that owned a ski jump, which apparently is still operational during ski season. Appropriately, the land comprising this ski slope is adjacent to a municipal cemetery (maintained, at least while I lived there, by the same municipal department). If you are one to insist on formalities, there is a funeral home two or three blocks up the street.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 21 Mar 2017 #permalink

Haha, we were on a skiing holiday with Cousin E recently, and it was his first time. When we sighted the first ski jump outside Falun I calmly told him that this was the kind of skiing we would be doing.

Yeah, I thought Sicario was OK. Worth watching.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 21 Mar 2017 #permalink

"a characteristic Swedish archaeological site of the 20th century: the abandoned municipal ski slope"
Fascinating site. It obviously inspires the question - why was it abandoned? Was there an indigenous cultural shift from the Ski Culture toward the later Sauna and Coffee Culture? Or were the native skiers displaced by a massive incursion of the foreign Snowshoe Peoples? It would be worth putting in a trench at the bottom of the slope, to see what types of potsherds turn up.

By Jim Sweeney (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

Interesting interview of Sarah Haider, apostate, atheist and Lefty, although she seems to be becoming increasingly uncomfortable with some Leftist positions in relation to science and (one particular - her own previous) religion.
http://nofe.me/razib/WordPress/2017/03/10-questions-for-sarah-haider/

Key quote from Haider: "I’ve felt an increasing hostility to some fields of science coming from the political Left, particularly a denial of biological influence in human behavior and outcomes. As this tendency becomes better known, so may some scientific-minded atheists distance themselves from the politics that fuel it. Islam may be the biggest game changer of all – the Left’s refusal to acknowledge the problems within the religion have left some atheists (myself included) feeling betrayed and abandoned."

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

Jim, there used to be four ski slopes in the area. Only the biggest one is still in use. I guess the demise of the three may be due to the increased availability of cars and air travel, which let the inhabitants of this affluent suburb go skiing on much higher slopes with more dependable snow.

I guess the demise of the three may be due to the increased availability of cars and air travel, which let the inhabitants of this affluent suburb go skiing on much higher slopes with more dependable snow.

The same thing is happening in New England. Mom-and-pop operations, and those in more southerly/lower elevation locations, are being squeezed out. I was surprised to see that the place I linked to upthread was still operational earlier this year (I think they are now closed for the season).

A warming climate is not going to help. Places like Vail and Aspen are high enough to survive, and Park City gets enough snow due to lake effect that they will likely be OK, But I would not be surprised if there were no ski areas left in New England in 50 years, and lots of ski areas in California and Washington State will probably have to close as well due to rising snow levels.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

They are expecting that some of the ski resorts in the Australian snow fields will be impacted; and some sooner rather than later. (To the surprise of some people, Australia has a greater area of permanent snow than Switzerland - at least, so far it does.)

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

Today XKCD has a particularly awful musical pun: That's a Moiré,

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

How many readers got that? Be honest! (I got it after a couple of seconds, but it would have taken longer without the notes.)

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

I didn't figure it out until I looked at the alt text. Always look at the alt text of an XKCD cartoon; that's often where he puts the punch line.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

I saw it coming just from Birger's hint. But then, I watched a lot of Dean Martin in my TV watching younger days. Not that he was that much fun to watch, but there was nothing else. His piece with Goldie Hawn was pretty funny, but that was because of her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mez8LZzA-tw

I once gave a birthday card to a French friend. On the outside it said "Why is this birthday card like a French art museum that has been robbed?" and on the inside it said "No Monet inside."

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 #permalink

Aha. Mystery solved. GLONASS. That explains why I have noticed that positioning accuracy on my phone has improved within the last couple of years - because all new phones use GPS plus GLONASS, which helps when the phone is shielded by being surrounded by tall buildings. I must have noticed the improvement after I bought a new phone. Apple are singularly bad at explaining how your devices work - I had to find out about GLONASS by looking at smart watches. Not that I need a smart watch; or at least, I don't need it for much, but I could do with one for a few things, maybe enough to make it worth getting one. I'm undecided.

Thank you, Russia. Can we now have access to the military version, please?

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 23 Mar 2017 #permalink

Weird psychology:
Poll: Scandals solidify Trump’s voter base http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/poll-scandals-solidify-trumps-voter-bas…

Re Chuck Berry
I was told he did time in prison so I just assumed he had ruined his life by getting adicted like so many gifted artists before him. My bad.
BTW If he had been whitehe would likely have filed the ecological niche that intead was filled by Elvis and by some other white artists. Young Elvis was very very good but Chuck Berry was , er, Chuck Berry.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 23 Mar 2017 #permalink

Birger@16 - Well, he did do time for armed robbery. Like he said, he screwed up once every 15 years. Plus he occasionally tolerated people like Keith Richards hanging out with him (but once punched Richards in the head for touching his guitar), so the the assumption was a forgivable error. But no, reportedly he was notably successful in avoiding the evils of addiction, and didn't even drink. For someone who spent most of his long life touring alone, that was a pretty amazing achievement.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 23 Mar 2017 #permalink

I never liked Elvis Presley, right from the very first time I saw him, even though I was only a little kid at the time. He was what the Cantonese call "yuk ma" - he made my skin crawl. I liked Little Richard the most - somehow, to my total surprise, we accumulated a collection of Little Richard's records at home. I had no money at the time and never bought records then, so I can only assume my oddball father (who always eschewed popular music) had bought them. I used to play them endlessly, and my father never complained. I also liked Chuck Berry a lot, and Bill Haley, and then a bit later I liked Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. But my early favourites were always black.

And then in the era of the all-girl singing groups and female 'soul' singers, all of my favourite female singers were black. Even when I didn't know they were black and assumed they were white, when I learned more about them as people, they turned out to be black. I loved Betty Everett, and Martha and the Vandellas, and a whole stream of others in the 1960s, but I didn't realise then that they were black - the radio DJs never mentioned it. I only really found out in the Youtube era that all of my favourite singers had been black, except for Buddy Holly and the Everly Bros. I knew Aretha Franklin was black, but she made it kind of obvious.

As my daughter said, when I was filling in her musical education by acquainting her with all of my favourites when I was a kid: "Black women are 'cool'. White women just can't do 'cool' the way that black women are just naturally."

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 23 Mar 2017 #permalink

My daughter still sometimes plays old Youtube videos of the Pointer Sisters and gurgles with laughter at their antics, even now that June Pointer has been deceased for over 10 years. June was always the funniest - we didn't realise it at the time, but the reason June was so funny was because she was always full of cocaine.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

One of their funniest.

Meanwhile, I am not sure why the authors of this paper seem to be trying to tiptoe around the subject. "Anthropophagic events" means incidence of cannibalism, as anyone can figure out in a few seconds. Maybe they fear an outraged backlash from Europeans, who refuse to believe that a few of their distant ancestors were capable of behaviour normally associated with "primitive (black or indigenous) savages". The problem there is that the Villabruna H-Gs *were* dark skinned.

http://eurogenes.blogspot.hk/2017/03/trouble-in-early-mesolithic-iberia…

This made me laugh (from the link to the figures): "Obviously, we can't be sure what really happened in that Spanish cave all those millennia ago. But the explanation may be far less disturbing than we might first imagine. We could be seeing what remains of our earliest complex rituals for honoring the dead."

Well, yes, we could - such ritual behaviours have certainly been documented. Alternatively, the cannibals could just have been starving. Another alternative that seems a real possibility is that when small bands of hunter gatherers encountered other bands who were genetically distant (which was a real possibility in Europe 10,000 years ago), and looked it, they might have seen them as The (Sub-human) Other, and so fair prey, not being fully human. It is quite common among isolated peoples who are hunter gatherers or horticulturalists to refer to their own kind as "humans", to distinguish themselves from The Others. Bantu have been known to kill and eat Pygmies, which they justify by regarding the Pygmies as sub-human, and therefore just another kind of 'bushmeat', along with gorillas and chimpanzees.

Surely by now only the most starry eyed New Age loonies are aware that, in much more recent times, Druids in Britain practised human sacrifice, as documented in written Roman history and confirmed by archaeological finds. It's not a huge step from human sacrifice to cannibalism, in terms of savagery.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

I meant: Surely by now only the most starry eyed New Age loonies are *not* aware; or choose not to be aware, maybe.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

A timely (in Martin's case) burst of information from Razib, who has just had his third child (or at least his ancestrally Northern European wife has, in terms of delivery, though there's obviously no doubt in all three cases that Razib is the father - he published his second child's genomic data on the Internet before the child had been born, in what he and I both think was a world first).

Consumer Genomics Part 1:
http://nofe.me/razib/WordPress/2017/03/your-ancestry-inference-is-preci…

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

I have a new method for selecting films to watch on Netflix - I choose the films that have the lowest viewer ratings.

That resulted last night in me watching the 2015 German film My Honor Was Loyalty, which scored one star from viewers - I suspect mostly because it is in German with English subtitles; although equally it could be because the subject matter might be offensive to people who do not want to see the latter stages of WWII from the perspective of an SS soldier of the Third Reich. My rating - not bad. Worth watching, I thought. Some very nice scenery. But, as war movies go, definitely not brilliant - I would not rate it anywhere near Clint Eastwood's paired films Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. But then, that pair are pretty hard to beat - maybe Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line goes close, but few others get anywhere near them.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

"Mein ehre heisst truhe"; Avoid movements built around slavish obedience.
King Lear 's Fool may have been loyal to the end, wise people will opt out well before Berlin is encrcled. Which reminds me, the Italian people were smarter than the Germans. They were fed up after three years.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

Aspidistra@20: I had the opposite experience: discovering that certain musicians I had assumed were black were actually white. Not that it mattered all that much to me, but I was aware that there was a color boundary somewhere.

I had seen Diana Ross and Lou Rawls on TV, so I knew they were black. And there were others whose pictures I had seen and knew that they were white. But in those pre-MTV days, there were many cases where it was left to my imagination. So, for instance, I incorrectly assumed that Chicago was a black group, because of the sound they had during and immediately after the Terry Kath era (I would not have made that mistake with their later work, once David Foster got hold of them and turned their work into overproduced schlock).

I wasn't the only American to make such mistakes. Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" was a major hit on urban (read: black) radio stations in the US before it crossed over to the mainstream. That was in part because John Deacon wrote it as an homage to Motown.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

Birger@28 - Without plot spoiling, the film is a reasonable examination of the consequences of slavish obedience.

Eric@29 - A lot of people got caught out by this. The guy in the film is miming - the song was written and sung by a blonde haired white guy (Dan Hartman, a closet gay who died young of an AIDS induced brain tumour). It fooled me. I still love it, though. Even though it's white, I mean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIfR2p8m0G8

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

Today Was A Special Day!

It was a day ending in Y.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

My wife's DNA results are back - a bit quicker than I was expecting.

23andMe passed the little test we set for them - from among their sample of well over a million customers, they identified our daughter as my wife's closest relative, with 50% shared DNA, and correctly identified her as 'daughter'. Our daughter sent in her sample 6 years ago, from a different country. Different family name.

Not much of a test, really - 6 years ago they correctly identified our daughter as my daughter after she and I both submitted our samples.

So, her birth wasn't just my imagination, then :)

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

No, Eric, today is more than just a day ending in Y - today was the day Trump got his arse handed to him on a plate in Congress over the repeal of Obamacare. The GOP hate him as much as the Dems. I predict he will go down as the worst lame duck President in history.

And this is really good news and a massive step forward - if they can eliminate malaria from the world, it would be a huge achievement:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-25/malaria-testing-new-technology-to…

And in other news, 23andMe say my wife and I are unrelated. Well, there's a surprise! Bit of a relief - no inbreeding depression in our daughter, then :)

Well, actually we are related - but it was more than 50,000 years ago.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 #permalink

Me: "Your DNA results have arrived."
Wife: "What am I going to die of?"
Me: "They don't tell you. I have to download your raw data file and run it through some separate software to generate a health report. Do you want to look at your ancestry results?"
Wife, heading to the kitchen to make tea: "Um...later."
Totally unfazed.
Me to daughter: "Do you want to share results with Mum?"
Daughter, heading to the kitchen to make tea: "Um...later."
No instant gratification in this family.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

Birger@40 - Movie looks like great fun.

But where can I see it? Netflix in my Geography don't make available any Swedish movies - they assume I want awful Bollywood and dreadful East Asian pot-boilers (there are some absolutely outstanding movies which are the result of cooperative efforts among the constituents of 'Greater China', but Netflix don't make available the excellent movies, only the ones that no one wants (i.e. have no residual market value)).

I was using a VPN to get around the 'geography' nonsense, but Netflix blocked that. My Netflix user experience plummeted as a result. I still find the occasional 'OK' or 'not bad' film, but it's not really enough to make my continued patronage worthwhile. Question is, is there a better alternative?

Itunes rentals are really not much better, and a lot more costly - they also peddle the 'geography' nonsense, so no 'foreign' films, and I get the Hollywood movie titles and descriptions in Chinese. Thank you, Itunes. Yes, Birger, I know you don't think of yourself as foreign, and I don't think of you as foreign either, but Hollywood thinks you are. And it thinks I'm Chinese.

I'm turning into a curmudgeon. It's the weather - a bitter 15 degrees Celsius today. Too cold to move. Wife and daughter have gone hiking in the hills/hunting for wild Chinese herbs. I don't know how they can stand it - must be the Northern Han genes.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Watched the 2012 George Clooney film The American on Netflix. Not bad. People expecting an 'action thriller' were evidently disappointed at the insufficiency of the 'action', and in a sense it is, in that the things that take place are never really explained in a broader context. The critics treated it somewhat more kindly, and deservedly so, I think - it's a very atmospheric piece, light on dialogue. Worth watching, on balance. A very restrained performance by Clooney - not my favourite actor, but he does pretty well in this.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

*tsk* 2010 film.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Yeah, close.

Part of the fun of going to the movies when I first started dating my wife was to howl with laughter at the English subtitles of the old Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. Just hilarious stuff. Of course, I would be the only person in the movie theatre actually reading the subtitles, so I would be the only person convulsed with laughter during what were meant to be poignant moments in the film - made myself unpopular.

My worst performance was when my wife dragged me off to a theatre to watch the 1993 New Zealand film The Piano (a very dark, slow moving, 'atmospheric' drama), on a Friday night when I was dog tired from working all week. I'm told that I fell asleep in my chair and snored loudly throughout the film, much to the annoyance of everyone around me, and with my wife repeatedly and unsuccessfully trying to wake me up to make me shut up, then when it was finished and they were rolling the credits, I sprang to my feet and announced loudly "Well, that was a bloody boring film." If looks could kill...

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

But where can I see it?

Right now, nowhere, it takes time to reach distributors.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Birger, I'm not stupid. It was a rhetorical question implying future opportunities - the obvious answer being that there will be none.

On adaptive introgressions between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans:
http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/03/24/120477

The take-home messages are: "Our results imply that many introgressions between Neanderthals and modern humans were adaptive" and "Neanderthals and modern humans came in contact with each other and interbred at least twice in the past 100,000 years. Such contact and interbreeding likely led both to the transmission of viruses novel to either species and to the exchange of adaptive alleles that provided resistance against the same viruses."

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Ed Yong is one of the better science writers out there, along with Carl Zimmer. This piece is pretty dated, but still worth reading.
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2010/02/17/africas-genetic-dive…

"The Bushmen are one of the oldest human groups on the planet and you might expect their genes to reflect humanity’s most ancestral state." This is extremely wrong-headed. It is true that the San diverged from all other anatomically modern humans very early, and remained geographically isolated for a very long time - but that does not make their lineage any older than any other. And human evolution did not stop at any point (contrary to the claim by that ignoramus 'naturalist' David Attenborough, who doesn't know what he is talking about) - it is driven mostly by random mutations, and by interbreeding (if that applies, which it did not for the San for a very long time). Random mutations have most effect among small, isolated populations. So modern San should not be expected to be, or regarded as, modern humans' most 'ancestral state', any more than any other human population. They are not 'primitive people' in any sense of the word. Genetically distant from other human groups, yes; more primitive or ancestral, no.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Ed Yong was in Perth when we were living there in 2010. He went there, of all things, to take some photographs in Perth Zoo. Maybe you just don't like zoos, and I have some reservations about them myself, but as zoos go, Perth Zoo is a particularly good one. (Singapore also has an excellent zoo. And an excellent and very scary night safari - picture walking through a jungle setting at night set out in a very large area, very dark, with very few other people around, and suddenly coming upon a pride of very awake lions at close quarters, or a pack of hyenas, or a leopard skulking around, and not being able to see in the dark the ditch that is the only thing between you and them - it gets the pulse rate up and the adrenalin pumping, I can tell you. My daughter pokes fun at me about it, but as I pointed out to her, having a fear of big predators is a natural and prudent thing to have.) Ed was only planning a quick trip to Perth, but while he was there, the volcano in Iceland erupted, disrupting air travel, and he was stuck there for much longer than he wanted.

He described Perth as a nice place (which, superficially, the city is, as cities go, but it's a thin veneer with a lot of ugliness beneath), but complained about the price of a cup of coffee. Well, what was he expecting? 2010 was the peak of the now-defunct mining boom, and prices were sky high - one of many reasons we decided not to remain living there; we just couldn't afford to. We got out just in time: the boom is well and truly over, population growth has plummeted, unemployment and under-employment are rising, real estate is on an inevitable downward spiral that will continue indefinitely, and a lot of people are in financial distress and getting very depressed. Basically, financially, the state of Western Australia is now pretty much f*cked. We saw the writing on the wall, and were among the first of the rats to leave a ship that was not yet sinking but was predictably going to.

Anyway, I only found out Ed had been stuck there after he had left, so I told the silly bugger off for not letting on that he was there while he was still there - I would very happily have bought him a coffee or a nice meal, just for the privilege of meeting and chatting to him. Didn't happen. Life is full of missed opportunities - mine, not his.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

"Thousands evacuated as cyclone bears down on Australia" https://phys.org/news/2017-03-thousands-evacuated-cyclone-australia.html
I tend to forget that the seasons are reversed down under. Hopefully this will be one of the last cyclones.

Sw. "Orkan" around Anglo-saxon North Atlantic: Hurricane.
In parts of east Asia: Typhoon /Taifun
In Australia: Cyclone.
-- -- --
Interesting people passing through:
All kinds of people pass through Umeå and I only find out after they have left.
We even had Susan Faludi here. Swoosh, she is gone.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Scarlett Johansson ("Under the Skin", Lost In Translation"), charismatic queen of science fiction (now in " Ghost in the Shell") https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/26/scarlett-johansson-queen-s…
(two different anime versions are available, their success paved the way for this "real" film)

John, I assume local mainstream burial practices are the same as before Buddhism arrived. In Tibet, the emphasis would be on cremation, but there is no wood. So they have something called "sky funerals" where vultures play a central role. To allow the vultures fast access to the flesh before it degrades to the point where there is a risk for disease transmission, the funeral "manager" has do to some work with an axe... (u-ullp).

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Not only are the seasons reversed down there, the cyclones are reversed too :)

Could be a bad one, hitting around Cairns/Townsville. Jonathon Nott at James Cook University says the world's highest recorded storm surge occurred in northern Australia in March 1899, when surge+tide+wave height equalled 13 metres. To reach that would have required atmospheric pressure near the centre of the cyclone to be as low as 880hPa. I think that at an air pressure that low, I would be blacking out.

https://research.jcu.edu.au/portfolio/jonathan.nott/#fieldsetlegend-pub…

I once decided that, based solely on climate, if I had to live in Australia, I should choose Cairns. It would have been a bad choice for other reasons (rural Queensland is Pauline Hanson country - ya know Pauline, the one who says that Australia is being flooded by Asians and that Islam is an 'illness'? - the one my deeply conservative right wing friend (whose endless tasteless jokes I try steadfastly to ignore) refers to as 'that red haired Nazi bitch'? - yeah, that one).

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Um, well, In Hong Kong, shortage of land available for cemeteries now dictates that cremation is pretty much the only option unless your family is extremely wealthy, regardless of religion. Chinese are notably elastic about religion anyway.

We buried my mother in law whole, but dug up her remains after 14 years (by which time she was nothing more than a skeleton with some sticky black soil-like material adhering to the bones), cremated the bones and put them in a box in a wall in a Buddhist temple dedicated to that purpose (despite her being a nominal Catholic who'd had a Taoist funeral - elastic, see?). I wanted to know why we just didn't cremate her in the first place, to save all the mucking around digging her up again, but no one could give me a rational explanation.

Oh well - at least I can say I have seen my mother in law's skull. That's a claim not everyone can make. She had good strong bones too - they build them like that in Shandong Province.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4350486/Scarlett-Johansson…

Not just a Hollywood A-lister - Scarlett is now the world's highest grossing actress. I don't care, I just love her nose. When she dies, they should put her nose in a bottle and keep it in a museum.

Apparently there was a bit of blow-back about a Danish-Jewish woman playing the part of an Asian in Ghost In The Shell, but not much.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

-They are concerned about the ethnicity of an AI in a robot?
-- --
Swedish rural areas sometimes have substantial lands classed as "impediment" -almost barren land, unsuitable for agriculture and barely suitable for pasture.
Are there no over-grazed hills in the nearby countryside the authorities may consider expendable? The lands have undergone entropy anyway, so it would be consistent to use them as graveyards.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

I keep meaning to point out, when talking about the San, that Nelson Mandela was part San (i.e. Bushman, but they don't like being called that), I don't know offhand what %, but to a sufficient extent that he had some visibly evident San physical traits. It could have been old admixture, i.e. far back in his ancestry.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Not to bore everyone who already knows about the Bantu expansion (postulated to have occurred after the Bantu adopted agriculture and their population exploded out of north western Africa, prompting outward expansion):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantu_expansion

"The hypothesized Bantu expansion pushed out or assimilated the hunter-forager proto-Khoisan, who formerly inhabited Southern Africa." Unadmixed San foragers now only occupy marginal land that is generally unsuitable for agriculture. But other groups of San have become cattle herders, and yet others have become sedentary agriculturalists, to add to the confusion - they all regard each other as 'different', not 'same'.

So, it seems that the Xosa could be an ancient admixed population with a non-trivial Khoisan (i.e. San - different name, same people) component. Or alternatively, Nelson Mandela might have been Xosa (Bantu) but with some more recent San admixture.

I don't know which. But people with 'click' languages (Xosa, Hadze and Sandawe) have all been postulated to have ancient San admixture.

But we run up against the usual dilemma - the San or Khoisan are a genetically distinct group, whereas the Bantu, Hadze and Sandawe all refer to language groups, rather than people grouped genetically. Hadze are foragers. I don't know much at all about the Sandawe speakers.

Genetic diversity and past population movements within Africa are far more complex than anywhere else, and so far, far too little work has been done to elucidate all of this.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Sw. “Orkan” around Anglo-saxon North Atlantic: Hurricane.

The English word "hurricane" comes from the Spanish huracán, which in turn probably derives from one of the indigenous languages of the Caribbean region. The Spanish, of course, would have been the first Europeans to encounter such storms in the North Atlantic.

They are also called hurricanes in the eastern and central North Pacific. Typhoons occur in the western North Pacific. They are called cyclones in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. The one such storm known to have occurred in the South Atlantic is also known as a hurricane.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Late 11th - early 12th Century: a young, apparently quite well to do young man, 18 to 25 years old and about 160cm tall, suffering from leprosy and afflicted by numerous soft tissue lesions as a result, sets off on a long pilgrimage to Winchester in England, seeking a miraculous cure for his affliction. It seems that on the way he also makes a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. Evidence suggests an unusual level of muscular and skeletal wear, possibly resulting from carrying a heavy weight on his back for a long distance, and while bending and twisting; maybe his personal effects. He dies some time after his arrival, while still young.

Unsurprisingly, cranial morphology is of no use in identifying his origin, except that it suggests he was not from northern Europe.

What have I missed?

http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.00051…

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 28 Mar 2017 #permalink

Interesting stuff! I'd say his skeletal wear would mainly point to his lifestyle before he went on the pilgrimage.

New safety technology enables teamwork https://phys.org/news/2017-03-safety-technology-enables-teamwork.html
If this can be adapted to building sites, it could drastically improve safety. Imagine the human workers staying in place on a girder, safely anchored to a lifeline while the machinery fetches tools and building materials.
I am also thinking of those huge qu a r ri es in Australia where monster trucks fetches ore in an Environment that must be risky.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 30 Mar 2017 #permalink

The Unbearable Whiteness of Scarlett Johannson.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170330-how-good-is-the-new-ghost-in-… Sounds good.

As usual, that whining American Actress Constance Wu, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, is talking out of her arse. Major, the part played by Johannson in this film, is a cyborg - a robotic body fitted with a human brain. She, or it, has no genes outside of the brain, and therefore she cannot be Japanese, or East Asian, or East Eurasian, or any other 'race' or 'person of colour' that Wu wants to artificially socially construct. She is just a machine with a functioning human brain, which retains only scraps of remnants of memory of her life as a human.

We are all the product of a complex interaction of our genes and environment: physically, mentally (if you can separate those two things, and I am learning progressively that you can't) (it is swallowing huge amounts of my time, but I am gradually working my way through an excellent series of lectures by the brilliant Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson - look him up on Youtube, it's worth it), culturally and in every other way. You cannot separate them.

In acting the part of a Chinese migrant to the USA, it was Wu who was fraudulent. In acting in Shakespearian plays, she has been fraudulent. In playing the parts of Japanese women in films, she has been fraudulent. By her metric, she is fraudulent in every single part she plays unless it is the part of someone of Chinese genes who has spent her whole life growing up and living in America (and you could probably sensibly narrow that down to certain parts of America.) She needs to shut up and quit whining.

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 30 Mar 2017 #permalink

*sigh*

I think I will invent a round thing that can roll on the ground, and...

By Aspidistra (not verified) on 01 Apr 2017 #permalink

Aspidistra,
i prefer octagonal wheels. The bumpy, miserable ride is a perfect match for the rest of life.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 02 Apr 2017 #permalink

i prefer octagonal wheels

A literal reading of a certain biblical passage requires hexagonal wheels. The passage describes a cylindrical object as having a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits, therefore π = 3. It turns out that the perimeter of a regular hexagon is three times the distance between opposite points.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 02 Apr 2017 #permalink

And let us not forget that insects apparently used to have four legs back in biblical times (leviticus).

Doctor Who apparently brought some camels to an old-testament site centuries before they were domesticated, which was very civic-minded of him. But how did he get them through the small doorway into the Tardis?

Some bad guy ( *Souhtek?) sold off hoplite armour to Goliath, giving him an unfair advantage against late-bronnze-age warriors.

*The Pyramids of Mars

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 03 Apr 2017 #permalink