September Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Five years since my first teaching gig. Still temping today, still enjoying it, still think I should have a steady job.
  • LinkedIn suggests that I might apply for a job as home language teacher of Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken in southern India. 15% of full time.
  • Did Timothy Leary use TripAdvisor?
  • Richard Bradley discusses my 2015 book at length in his new book A Geography of Offerings. *happy*
  • I want to text my lower-teen self that I just favourited Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart". He would be absolutely disgusted.
  • Breakfast: bread that I baked, mushrooms that I picked, crayfish claws that my wife left.
  • Our first real Viking warrior burial that has been genetically identified as female! This paper will prove a milestone. Here's the burial itself. It doesn't get more warriory than this.
  • Satisfying little discovery today: one of the most honoured guests at the wedding in July of 1359 at Stensö Castle, the uncle of the bride, was the owner of Landsjö Castle, whatever was left of it at the time.
  • Placed 7th out of 12 boats in the mini race.
  • The new Ride song "Charm Assault" has the expression "your lies begin to unfurl". Think you meant "unravel" there, mate.

More like this

Registering the bones from this summer's fieldwork at Landsjö. Getting rid of excess stuff. Azerbaijani dude with a huge beautiful beard showed up on his wife's orders and collected both bike baby seats, the rolling baby stool, the dinner table lamp and the microwave oven. *happy* My wife's…
My excavations this summer will target the ruins of two Medieval castles near Norrköping. Christian Lovén and I have selected these two because unusually, both have curtain walls (Sw. ringmur) but do not seem to have belonged to the Crown. The High Middle Ages in Sweden are poorly documented in…
2014 trenches A-E and rough locations of 2015 trenches F-H. Like Stensö, Landsjö Castle has half of a rare perimeter wall and is known to have been owned by a descendant of Folke Jarl – or rather, by his daughter-in-law, the widow of such a descendant. Last year we found that the high inner…
With two days of digging and one day of backfilling left at Stensö Castle, trenches A and B have already given a rich harvest of new information. The northern tower was a green ruin mound when we came to site. We now know that the tower was built entirely of greystone, it was round with a diameter…

“Kickstart My Heart”.-because only wimps use electrical defibrillators.
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”A message from Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, to Donald Trump”
Vicente Fox offers to become president of USA, since absolutely anyone apparently can become one.
He also offers a range of promotional orange caps with messages, like "ask befory you grab pussy".

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 11 Sep 2017 #permalink

Did Timothy Leary use TripAdvisor?

This one had me LOL.

Also, Vicente Fox has a better command of English than Donald Trump. Sad!

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 11 Sep 2017 #permalink

I thought everyone knew that apricot kernels are toxic. They contain cyanide. The thing inside an apricot kernel looks a bit like an almond, but it's not, and it's poisonous. Consume enough and it will kill you.

We knew that even when we were kids in primary school. We would repeatedly rub apricot kernels against an abrasive surface like asphalt or concrete to wear down one side of the kernel until we wore a hole in it and could scoop out the thing inside. Then we could use the outer shell as a whistle by blowing across the hole we had made. But we knew to treat the thing that we had extracted with due caution. We knew what cyanide was.

So, now doctors have discovered some guy in HK who makes a juice out of these things from inside apricot kernels and drinks some of it every day, in the belief that it will prevent him from getting cancer. They discovered that when he underwent a surgical procedure and they found that the level of dissolved oxygen in his blood was abnormally low - due to cyanide poisoning (but not yet enough to kill him). So, they warned him against drinking this juice that he makes. But he is still doing it.

Well, it's true in a way, I guess - killing yourself with cyanide poisoning will definitely prevent you from getting cancer.

By John Massey (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

Never mind LinkedIn. I'm wondering if I could undergo training and become a raw vegan chef.

I mean, how difficult could it be?

By John Massey (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

Some virii and bacteria selectively kill cancer cells rather than normal cells, but I would not volunteer to test ten thousand varieties one at a time.

Cyanide...ingesting the stuff used in US executions and Nazi Zyklon B is so very counter-intuitive that there is no way to establish meaningful communication with the brain of the person drinking it. A different human species? Atavism?
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Boris Johnson to help Irma relief effort by dangling from last remaining electricity cable in Anguilla…
Also, 'Clown from 'It' available for children's parties for free'
'I could kick you in the nuts and there's nothing you can do about it', Prince George tells teacher

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

John@3: The apricot kernels are supposed to be a key source of Laetrile (also known as vitamin B17), which occasionally is floated as an "alternative" cancer "cure" but is generally found not to work. In the 1970s Laetrile was big enough to be lampooned in a memorable Doonesbury story line. The link goes to a LanguageLog post explaining why that particular strip is so memorable.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

Leary IS the TripAdvisor.

By Wesley Dodson (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

Birger@9: I'm sure Greece has lots of faults. California has lots of faults as well: the San Andreas fault, the Hayward fault, the Newport-Inglewood fault, ....

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 #permalink

Eric@7 - Just after I posted that story about the guy in HK trying to poison himself, another story came out in the Australian news about a guy there in his 60s who actually managed to take enough apricot seeds to kill himself with cyanide poisoning.

So, he won't be dying of cancer, then.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Sep 2017 #permalink

"Alternative medicine" leads to the alternative to "living".

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 13 Sep 2017 #permalink

The teen that used to be me would probably not be disgusted to know that I, since many years, enjoy both Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and that I regularly spin the latter while commuting. But he would be utterly amazed. Priest and Maiden back patches were, like, the mark of The Enemy. Or at least of Stupidity.

He has since learned that this point of view was a more significant sign of Stupidity than any back patches.

By Olof Öberg (not verified) on 13 Sep 2017 #permalink

Indeed Olof, I had the same experience. The metal heads in my school were incomprehensible working-class goons who did poorly in class.

I'm not quite as far along this process, but I am reconsidering some heavy metal/grunge music after hearing covers of it by artists like David Garrett and 2CELLOS. The ascendance of grunge, a direction I was unwilling to go at the time, was a big part of why popular music and I went our separate ways in the early 1990s. I still consider Nirvana one of the most overrated rock bands in history. But I'm finding that it's mostly because I expect professional musicians to have more musicianship than Kurt Cobain (this is probably my classical music background coming out). Both Garrett and 2CELLOS have covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and I like their versions better than the original. Weird Al Yankovic had a too-easy target with that song; his parody focuses on the incomprehensibility of the original's lyrics. Speaking of which: Kurt, you and your mates are the band, so you should be entertaining us.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 Sep 2017 #permalink

"How Indo-European Was Implemented in Southern Scandinavia." Pay-walled, unfortunately.

Slightly odd-sounding use of English - are languages 'implemented'?

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Sep 2017 #permalink

Joke sent to me by a disreputable Australian friend/blasting engineer in HK:

Donald Trump met with the Queen of England, and he asked her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you could give me?"

"Well," replied the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people."

Trump frowned, and then asked, "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen took a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle."

The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. "Please send Theresa May in here, would you?"

Theresa May walked into the room and said, "Yes, Your Majesty?"

The Queen smiled and said, "Answer me this, if you would, Theresa. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Theresa May answered, "That would be me."

"Yes! Very good," said the Queen.

Trump went back home to ask Mike Pence the same question. "Mike, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," said Pence. "Let me get back to you on that one." He went to his advisers and asked everyone, but none could give him an answer.

Finally, Pence ran in to Sarah Palin in a restaurant the next night. Pence asked, "Sarah, can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Sarah Palin answered right back, "That's easy, it's me!"

Pence smiled, and said, "Thanks!"

Pence then, went back to speak with Trump. "Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Sarah Palin!"

Trump got up, stomped over to Pence, and angrily yelled, "No, you idiot! It's Theresa May!"

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Sep 2017 #permalink

are languages ‘implemented’?

Computer languages can be implemented, but spoken/written languages generally are not. Without reading the (paywalled) paper, I can't guess what word the authors intended to use.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Sep 2017 #permalink

"was implemented" = "came into use" or "was adopted" is my guess, given they are evidently talking about two cultures merging, with the resident culture losing its (now unknown) language in favour of adopting the Indo-European language of the incoming culture, but retaining some loan words from the old language.

One of the ways that a population can adopt a new language is by a process of elite emulation.

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Sep 2017 #permalink

In news that has me reaching for my tiny violin, "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli's bail has been revoked after he tweeted what the Secret Service considered a credible threat against Hilary Clinton. His attorneys claimed it was a "tasteless joke" (TBF, they almost certainly didn't have a better defense available). I agree that it was tasteless, but here's a clue-by-four for Shkreli and his attorneys: Security services are supposed to be humor-impaired on topics like this. If you make jokes about bombs around airport security people, you will miss your flight, and you should consider yourself lucky if that's the only inconvenience you suffer.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Sep 2017 #permalink


By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

Watched the Netflix film Spectral (2016). American military sci-fi thriller.
Grade: Actually not too bad, if you like that sort of thing. The critics gave it a positive response.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

PNG people are very genetically diverse (surprisingly so - much more genetically differentiated from each other than Europeans are). Highlanders look very different from coastal and island populations, and all look very different from Torres Strait Islanders, who in turn look very different from Aboriginal Australians.

In Evolution, the two biggies are natural selection and, among populations isolated from other pops for a long time, genetic drift. Coastal and island people mixed with incoming people of the Lapita culture (Austronesians) more recently, but they never reached the highlands, which are physically difficult to access and populated by very warlike tribes who constantly make war and carry on vendettas against their neighbours, and were/are very hostile to outsiders. Plus disease: endemic malaria, dysentery, etc. During WWII fighting along the Kokoda Trail, which traverses very difficult high mountain terrain, more Australian and Japanese troops died from disease than from combat.

Also, the Neolithic transition in the case of PNG was somewhat different, in that they took to horticulture rather than agriculture. It was a function of the terrain they had to work with, particularly in the highlands.

And of course it never happened in Australia, although there is some evidence that they were gradually moving in the direction of agriculture - selective removal of plants in some areas to enable stronger growth of other plants that were used as food sources. It's not a huge jump from that to actually propagating from seeds. Jared Diamond postulated in Guns, Germs and Steel (much derided book, I know) that, if not interrupted by the arrival of European settlers, Aboriginal people might have developed agriculture within another few thousand years.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

The interesting (or not) thing about the PNG highlanders is that although inter-tribal warfare has gone on for many thousands of years, it has not resulted in any substantial change of land ownership. That is because the warfare is a never-ending pay-back system, like vendettas in Sicily or Corsica (or numerous other places), rather than for the purpose of invading and occupying enemy territory.

So the small tribal communities remain endogamous, basically because they hate each other for reciprocal revenge killings that have gone on for as far back as any of them can remember. And the terrain they occupy favours that - the tribe in the next valley could have been the sworn enemies of your tribe for a very long time; or there could be a system of shifting alliances for the purpose of 'ganging up'.

All in all, they are pretty unlikeable people, and very hostile to outsiders. Plus they invented the 'cargo cult' which, as religions go, has to be one of the most mind-numbingly stupid; and that's really saying something. Jared Diamond claimed they are the most intelligent people in the world. They sure don't behave like it.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

Birger@27 - That phys,org piece is wrong - the 'great mixing' that occurred in West Eurasia that resulted in far more genetic homogeneity throughout the region started during the Neolithic, before the beginning of the steppe invasions.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

I keep finding wrong stuff in pieces, but that one is one of the more egregious that I have spotted.

I'm close to deleting it from my regular reading, because the science journalism there has fallen to such a poor standard.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

"fallen to such a poor standard"

Universal problem. Consider how journalists in Merica covered Trump uncritically during the early election campaign. Checking stuff takes time ( not popular in shrinking news organisations), it is so much easier to slack and hope no one calls you out.
All media is morphing into something Murdoch-esque.
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"Australian welfare recipients spend proportionately less on alcohol – ABS…

Damn! Those pesky facts will get in the way of demonizing the peons, making it harder to justifying cutbacks in spending. That is why facts are impopular in -for instance-Fox News.
And Tories/Teabaggers just know that people on the dole are lazy drug addicts that have voluntarily chosen unemployment.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

Birger@32 - Hence why I prefer to get my science news from blogs.

But blogs have fallen out of favour in preference to Twitter. But Twitter shows all of the signs of dying, at least as a medium for learning/communicating intelligent stuff, as it gets drowned out by Twitter storms of stupidity. Serious Tweeters are baling out pretty fast now. Active Twitter user numbers have fallen precipitously in the past 12 months.

So, what comes next? It's either back to blogs, or someone needs to come up with a new medium. I'm perfectly comfortable with blogs, but I know they can be difficult for some people to sustain. I couldn't do it myself, although I'm happy enough to clutter up Martin's blog.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

The government funded ABC News in Australia (i.e. not the ABC in America - totally unrelated) periodically does a fact check on a public statement made by a politician, and publishes its conclusion. Outcome - sometimes a politician will be exactly right and know what he/she is talking about, and sometimes they will be found to be totally wrong/just making stuff up.

Tony Abbott (right wing conservative) a while back tried to suggest that the ABC's fact checking was a waste of time and money and that they should drop it. They didn't.

I think this is a very good thing for a news organisation to do, and they should do more of it.

Unfortunately, the very same news organisation publishes some stuff, often written by guest writers who are supposed to be 'experts', but sometimes written by their own reporters, that is just straight out bullshit - like the story they published on the Indian raw vegan guru woman in Sydney who shaves her head and has a large and adoring following, who says that we should all just eat raw vegetables, because we are most closely related to gorillas, who just eat raw vegetable matter, and look how big and strong they are. The ABC wrote and published that story themselves, under the heading of 'Health'.

So, it's a pity that they don't do fact checks on their own stories as well - otherwise that steaming heap of garbage would never have seen daylight.

Of course, they could argue that they were just quoting the woman - but then they didn't get any alternate view from someone who might know what they are talking about, they just published what she said and left it at that. That is not OK, and definitely not OK when the taxpayers are paying for this junk to be published.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

South Sweden got a thunderstorm of a size normally associated with warmer seasons.
And a farmer has succeeded in getting a crop of quinoya,
a plant normally cultivated in the andes.
Now, If they can find a big, forest predator that preferentially hunts wild boar, and get it to thrive in Sweden. ...

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

I should mention that wild boar are harder to hunt than moose, and are becoming a pest.
Technically indigenous but extinct for centuries, some asshole brought them to his estate for hunting, and Australians can guess what happened next.
The ecology is no longer adapted to a strong wild boar presence and they cheerfully trash the fields.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

Because of that storm, my flight home from Gothenburg is currently expected to be 5:15 late.

"Our first real Viking warrior burial that has been genetically identified as female! "

What is your take on self-styled "new left" types saying that it must be a "trans man"? (Why does "trans man" sound like a cartoon superhero?)

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

That's the issue I commented on. We can't tell if this osteo- female identified outward as an everyday man or as an unusual arms-bearing woman.

I just watched an episode of "Midnight, Texas", the TV series based on the books by Charlaine Harris.
A good adaptation, but the use of supernatural baddies inspired by the Bible is annoying. Once you get familiar with the Lovecraftian and post-Lovecraftian baddies the biblical ones just look silly, the way Alien raised the bar for what an acceptable monster means.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

"We can’t tell if this osteo- female identified outward as an everyday man or as an unusual arms-bearing woman."

Or, indeed, an arms-baring woman. :-)

Seriously, is there any reason to expect that she might have "identified as male"?

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

Phillip@42 - To tell you what you already seem to know, there is a great deal of false information being peddled about gender identity. It is not 'fluid' and not a 'spectrum'; it is very strongly bi-modal. 97.5% of all people are cis-gendered and heterosexual.

Gender identity emerges in children at a young age and doesn't change, and in the overwhelming % it aligns with sex at birth.

Even gays, who make up only about 2.4% of total population, so a very small minority, identify with the sex they were born as, they are just sexually attracted to people of the same rather than opposite sex.

Transgender people make up an even much more small minority; no more than about 0.1% of total population, and that includes the unfortunate people who are born sexually ambiguous, i.e. with an extra chromosome, like XXY, and with ambiguous sex organs, who are extremely rare.

That is not to say that gays and trans people are not equally deserving of human and legal rights, and human dignity. But it ultimately serves no one's interests to spread false information, inflate numbers or tell outright lies.

Having said all of that, a person who was very clearly and unambiguously female being buried with only male grave goods is obviously also very rare. The Shang Dynasty royal concubine Fu Hao, who is attested in written records to have been a successful military leader who died in battle, and who is also attested in written records to have presided over human sacrifices in religious ceremonies, was buried with a lot of weapons, but also some female items, and she is recorded as having given birth to some children. So it seems pretty clear in her case that she identified as female, but that she was at the war-like end of the female spectrum of behaviour. There are such people today - women who engage in combat sports, but identify clearly as female. They are also a minority, but they exist, as do women who seek out combat roles in the military.

So, you have to weigh up the obviously low probability of an individual who was an unusual arms-bearing woman and who was buried with no female objects at all, albeit an unusually tall woman who was as tall as the average man of the period (but notably with typically female gracile bones), with the also very low probability of that individual identifying as male.

That makes it very unlikely, but there is now no way to determine that, unless the woman in the grave can be clearly connected to someone recorded in written records of the period. So, there is no reason to expect that she might have identified as male, but no reason not to either, and speculation in the absence of any evidence to indicate either way seems futile.

If the sector who exaggerate numbers and spread false statements about the nature of sex and gender are also spreading all sorts of imagined stuff about this particular woman, they are just doing more of what they have been doing, and deserve to continue to be ignored. To New Left Post-Modernists, there is no Truth anyway, the Truth can be whatever they decide they want it to be, and it is futile to try to reason with such people - at best they will just shout you down and drown you out; at worst they will attack you physically.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

"a big, forest predator that preferentially hunts wild boar" - I thought they were called "humans".

Wild boars are occasionally a hazard in HK, when they emerge on the urban fringes and get into populated areas. They are obviously very dangerous animals and need to be rounded up by the Police.

So now, predictably enough, there is a "wild boar concern group" who allege Police brutality towards boars, march around carrying banners, hold concern group meetings, etc. We already have "feral water buffalo concern groups" (also potentially dangerous animals) and "feral cattle concern groups".

You are not allowed to interfere with the feral cattle and buffaloes - they are legally protected, for bizarre reasons that escape me. There is no such legal protection for wild boars. But no one in HK is permitted to own a hunting rifle anyway, so it makes little difference. You have one choice if a wild boar turns up in your local shopping centre (or indeed if you encounter one when out hiking in one of the country parks) - get out of its way, fast.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

OK, this made me laugh - Aboriginal people playing tricks on whiteys:…

I like the winery's suggestion that you can have a "shit - no good" wedding. Sounds like it could be a bad start.

This happened a lot in HK after the British first colonised it - the local Chinese had glorious fun telling them all sorts of indecent and improper names for places, which the Brits duly noted and adopted on their maps. Some of these still exist.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2017 #permalink

is there any reason to expect that she might have “identified as male”?

There is ample written evidence from the 2nd millennium for women living as men for large parts of their lives, becoming sailors and soldiers and even marrying women of the skirt- wearing variety. I see no reason to discount this possibility before AD 1000. But their way of thinking about this was obviously not identical to how people think about it in 2017.

This sort of behaviour was known in China as well, persisting right up to modern times, and I mean modern - within my daughter's lifetime there lived a Cantonese opera star who always took male parts, dressed as male and lived in a 'married' relationship with a female opera star who always took female parts (which is traditional to Cantonese opera but not to Peking opera). This 'male' opera star was hugely popular with HK locals because 'he' (1) was such a good performer of male roles and (2) was so 'cute' looking when not in stage costume, with 'his' short male hair cut and snappy male business suits.

There are many photos in existence of this 'man' and his female partner together, an obviously loving and devoted couple. It was not until after they had both died, that it was revealed by family members that this 'man' was actually a woman. Everyone was sort of shocked by it for about 5 seconds, and then shrugged and got over it. Their old films and recordings are still very popular, but now people marvel at how well this woman carried off the role of a man, both performing on stage and in real life off stage, for basically the whole of her adult life.

With my disaffected eye (I can't stand Cantonese opera - the only form of Chinese opera I can tolerate is Kunqu), there was something about this 'man' that always particularly irritated me and seemed not quite right, but I could never put my finger on what it was - in hindsight, that was it, 'he' wasn't a man at all.

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Sep 2017 #permalink

Meanwhile, when it comes to strength difference:

Having only about 50% of the upper body strength of a male would put a female at a huge disadvantage in close physical combat, assuming all other factors are equal (e.g. physical training and development of martial skills). That has been my experience with full contact sparring against females - even though I could never bring myself to hit them anywhere near as hard as I would a male opponent (even those who told me not to hold back because they were trying to learn how to fight against men - that was the whole point), I never encountered a female I couldn't beat easily.

In a group, as part of an otherwise all male shield wall...maybe, but still doubtful. Who knows? There are no written records that I have ever seen. From a distance, yes, there are confirmatory written historical records of Scythian men and women fighting together as a group of mounted archers.

There is some Roman record of female gladiators fighting each other, but they were evidently a rarity, and I have never seen any record of a female gladiator fighting a male.

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Sep 2017 #permalink

If you Google "Real Time With Bill Maher E 437" you can see an interesting debate about Trump voters. Also, an appearence by Salman Rushdie.
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The culture section of the municipaly authorities offer free outdoor cinema in a nearby park. It appeals to well-trained people who would enjoy wintertime hiking in the mountains (aka students) I am more of the "Homer Simpson demography".
With the mappning of the genome and the proteines and the myriad possible interactions, AI and computer algorithms really are coming of age, as the unaided human never could shift through this much information.
And supercomputers are also making it possible to simulate chemical reactions as well as the function of whole human cells.
I think, If you can survive the next two decades you will be in a much better position to face cancer and even dementa.
I will not link to the myriad medial news items, there are just too many things popping up every day.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 16 Sep 2017 #permalink

"Have I Got a bit more news for you S52 E07" was broadcast just after the American election- it was the first example of Trump-inspired comedy gold.

BTW I just learned that new interpretation of seismic data reveals the North Korean nuke to have a yield of 250 kilotons, twice the previos estimate. Progress! :-)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 16 Sep 2017 #permalink

"If you can survive the next two decades"

I am just trying to survive the next two years.

Couldn't get my @#$%&$# desktop to boot this morning. Ended up having to spend 2 hours doing a full system re-install, thankfully successfully without loss of any files. Tedious process.

By John Massey (not verified) on 17 Sep 2017 #permalink

I went voting for the Swedish Church assembly thing election today, to boost participation and marginalize the xenophobe party, wich hopes to use the church as a plattform.
"Blue ice"???
Google "016302 Have I Got News For You", it provides a glimpse of a young Michael Hazeltine working in television, giving me the impression a lot of nasty politians have worked in TV.
Reagan of course worked in radio and film, he came too early for "The apprentice".

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 17 Sep 2017 #permalink

Carrie Fisher (princess Leia) passed away last December, John Hurt in January. Now Harry Dean Stanton passed away at 91.
Apart from the hapless crew member of Nostromo, he is also remembered for films like Paris, Texas.

I suppose we should expect Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver to go next. Entrophy sucks.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 17 Sep 2017 #permalink

This is a biggie:
"Why we did not evolve to live forever: Unveiling the mystery of why we age" -The ageing process arises as a quirk of evolution
”Autophagy is known to become slower with age and the authors of this paper show that it appears to completely deteriorate in older worms. They demonstrate that shutting down key genes in the initiation of the process allows the worms to live longer compared with leaving it running crippled. This could force us to rethink our ideas about one of the most fundamental processes that exist in a cell,"

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 18 Sep 2017 #permalink

giving me the impression a lot of nasty politians have worked in TV

It should not surprise you that politicians, especially in countries that use first-past-the-post systems (as most English-speaking countries do), often come from the entertainment business. Entertainers start off with substantial name recognition, which is a plus for any would-be politician.

You see them on both sides of the aisle, too. In the US, in addition to the notorious examples of Reagan and Trump, you have Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota), who was a writer for the Comedy Central TV network before he ran for Senate (IIRC it was Franken who originated the quip that Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 Republican Convention sounded better in the original German). Other US politicians were previously basketball or American football stars. I can also name at least one Australian example: the Peter Garrett who was Environment Minister (I'm not sure of the exact title, but that was his role) in the Labour government about a decade ago is the same Peter Garrett who was front man for 80s-90s alternative rock band Midnight Oil. So far Bruce Springsteen has resisted calls to run for political office, but he freely donates his time and performing skills on behalf of the US Democratic Party.

The ur-example of this phenomenon is probably George Murphy, whose election in 1964 as US Senator from California attracted the attention of Tom Lehrer. The bit in Lehrer's introduction about Massachusetts having three senators is a reference to Robert F. Kennedy's election that same year to a Senate seat nominally representing New York (this is the same seat to which Hilary Clinton was elected 36 years later).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Sep 2017 #permalink

Reagan was not elected to public office until 1966, when he was elected Governor of California. According to Murphy's Wikipedia page, Reagan always credited Murphy as being the trailblazer in this regard. Reagan was politically active well before that election, but not as an officeholder.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Sep 2017 #permalink

Birger@57 - I like how that article on Chinese typewriters used a photo of a Japanese woman. All look the same, really; even when wearing traditional dress?

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

It's OK, you can all sit down again. In fact, it turns out that standing up (stationary) for too long is bad for you too. Better lie down.…

I can't help feeling that the mainstream media have contributed heavily to their own death spiral.

How long did they run with the story that 'moderate drinkers live longer than people who don't drink at all', until someone pointed out the gaping confounding factor in that research? Even my doctor was so persuaded by it that he kept trying to talk me into taking up drinking. Of course, he himself was a 'wine lover' who was only too happy to be convinced that it was good for him. Ethyl alcohol is ethyl alcohol, a virulent toxin, no matter how much you pay for the bottle of fermented grape juice it comes in.

It's such a virulent toxin that it makes for a great disinfectant - it will kill just about anything.

Ronald Reagan wasn't fooled though - he knew the real secret to longevity was to eat jelly beans.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

The US military is always desperate for more recruits. But they will not recruit anyone with an IQ of 73 or less (why precisely 73 I have no idea), because they have determined that there is no job in the armed forces that can be done reliably by someone whose cognitive ability is that low. Nothing.

People with an IQ of 75 or lower make up 15% of the population. But they are still allowed to vote. In Australia, where voting in all federal and state elections is compulsory for people aged 18 or over, they will be subject to a fine if they don't vote, or if it is detected that they have deliberately spoiled their ballot paper. The question is, should they even be allowed to vote? Yes, poorly educated voters make poor political choices. But what about the substantial proportion of the population who are not capable of becoming educated because they simply don't have the cognitive capacity to understand?

I guess the bad news for the US military is that, as warfare becomes more mechanised/automated, that minimum acceptable IQ is continually rising. But the good news is that warfare relies decreasingly on physical strength, endurance, stamina, etc., meaning that a continually increasing number of roles in the military can be taken up perfectly competently by women. There are already female fighter pilots who can do that job just as well as males. So, as one potential stream of recruits is progressively narrowing, another is increasingly becoming available. I see no reason now why they can't have female tank crews (if they don't have them already - no idea). I don't see any sense in trying to turn females into marines, when they can use them in any number of roles that require less muscle power.

It makes me wonder. Someone with an IQ of 90 is incapable of reading a simple set of instructions and then applying them. (So, they are unable to do things like work out how to operate a household vacuum cleaner, or washing machine, or microwave oven without someone showing them how.) Unemployment in Australia is currently around 5 to 6%. That means that there are more than 10% of people who are employed who are doing...what? Pushing brooms around? Folding envelopes? Whatever they are doing, the jobs they are capable of doing are going to progressively disappear very rapidly with automation.

That is actually really bad news, because most people want to feel that they are doing something useful and productive, and the % of the population who won't be able to is going to keep increasing.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Martin@64 - No, the confounding factor was that a lot of people who were counted as 'non-drinkers' were people who could no longer drink because they had health conditions resulting from past abuse of alcohol - so of course, those people tended to die younger than moderate drinkers.

If you confine 'non-drinkers' to people who have never been regular drinkers during their lifetimes, you get the intuitively obvious outcome - people who have never been drinkers live longer than people who are moderate drinkers. Any alcohol at all is a risk factor. There is no 'safe' lower limit. Risk rises with increased usage - it's the classic dose-response relationship that you would intuitively expect to see from ritually ingesting doses of a chemical compound which is both a toxin and a carcinogen.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

In fact, it looks very much like Vladimir Putin was single handedly responsible for arresting the decline in longevity of Russian men and turning it around - so the life expectancy of Russian males is now rising again, and the Russian population has started rising again - by banning the sale of cheap vodka. Well done, little Vlad. But it's not rocket science.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

My old thesis supervisor once mused about the change to society that means these days nobody can make a living pushing a wheel barrow or carrying logs. Then he added, pensively, "Or they could become samurai, back then".

Hard liquor is evil stuff. Like drinking paint thinner. If we legalise soft drugs, then we should consider reclassifying any alcoholic beverage stronger than wine as a hard drug.

I'm happy to hear that Tsar Putain has had some positive impact.

If you look at old black and white photos of samurai, they look like a bunch of belligerent brainless thugs - which is presumably exactly what they were. Not particularly physically fit or strong looking, just seedy looking layabouts.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

People tend to strongly romantize hereditary military "elites" of the past. Both the samurai and the spartans were easy to bribe

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Martin, I think this might answer your question about H. heidelbergensis - early Neanderthal, not too long after they split from Denisovans; well, maybe 100,000 years after. But this study concludes that N and D split 744,000 ya, and that the ancestors of both split from the ancestors of modern humans 750,000 ya.…

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

My pleasure. I think that helps to explain why John Hawks never got around to answering your question - he didn't know the answer, and wasn't willing to engage in wild speculation. He doesn't.

This one is kind of interesting:

"We estimate that African populations contributed approximately 1.2% of the UK gene pool and did so approximately 400 years ago." Hmmm - 400 years, eh?

"places the migration event early in the era of the “First” British Empire when Britain was actively establishing colonies in West Africa and the West Indies. During this period there was
a notable rise in the Black British population, often as household attendants to returning sea captains and colonists or as former slaves from Spain and Portugal."

Slavery was not abolished in Britain until 1807.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Birger@70 - I can name at least one hereditary military elite who have not been romanticised, or anything close - the Normans. In fact, I think they deserved a bit more credit as a civilising force in Britain than they have ever got.

But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Yes, I read about Petrov.
If the Mericans want to put up statues everywhere, they should raise statues in his honour.
And as a bonus he looks aryan, making him acceptable in the South.
-- -- --
A biblical fantasist claims having found the blood of Jesus.
He also claims the blood is still alive…at this point it is very temp ting to insert a zombie joke, but I cannot be bothered. These kooks have apparently no trouble getting people to listen to them. But the story is unintentional comedy.

“ Then, they looked at it under a microscope and counted the chromosomes. How, I don’t know; you can’t see chromosomes with a light microscope unless you squash the cells undergoing mitosis and stain them, which would require killing Jesus’ cells.”

And they claim to have found an extra chromosome, from Jahwe. Suppose this would be useful if someone wants to create a clone of God… Lex Luthor would certainly be interested.
Question: Did they find any DNA in the red blood cells? Because THAT would be a miracle.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

I think the Normans got a bad rep because Vilhelm/William was a total c*nt. He had no trouble breaking his promises to fellow normans and generally was as what you expect a medieval warlord to be. At least he did not impale people.
"Vote Vilhelm in 1066! He never impales his subjects!"

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

William needs to be judged by the standards of the times. I don't doubt he wasn't a nice man. His legal reforms were pretty impressive by the standards of the day, though - at least, it seems to me that way. Plus he gave my multiple great grand daddy some land in Cheshire - could have been better, I suppose, but then I have no idea how useful my multiple great grand daddy was on the day. Not utterly useless, presumably.

I read somewhere that William was so fat by the time he died that they couldn't get the lid on his coffin. Don't recall where I saw that.

Not just Merkins who should put up statues to Petrov - I don't fancy my chances of surviving a nuclear winter in a world where the whole global economy has been destroyed.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

There is a French absurdist play named "King Ubu" which the Americans ought to familiarize themselves with.

And Gwyneth Paltrow is now selling a vampire repellent. Not kidding.

Catholic Church Releases List of Pedophile Priests — 74 in One DioceseRead more at……
As onetime boss of what was earlier called "the inquisition", the previous pope would have known about it.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Bloody hell. In his speech to the UN General Assembly today, Dolt 45 actually called Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man".

I have issues with a lot of Sir Elton's music, but "Rocket Man" is a song with personal meaning to me. Or perhaps I should say it had personal meaning, because President Scheisskopf has a well-earned reputation for ruining everything he touches.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink

Gwyneth Paltrow *is* a vampire repellent. I mean, who would want to bite...?

This is a fairly big one:

I keep expecting to see a European pop gen paper published which has a list of authors/contributors and their affiliations which is longer than the rest of the paper.

This one doesn't go close, but the list of authors/contributors is still pretty mind-boggling. A look at the contributions at the end shows that the majority of the contributors 'assembled and interpreted archaeological material'.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2017 #permalink