September Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • Ben Aaronovitch = Benjamin Aaronson wrote The Rivers of London. I wonder if it's a pen name for my grandpa's grandpa Aaron Benjaminson, who was a farmer in Tanum.
  • Two students are trying to play verbal chess while digging. The board is in their heads.
  • "Well, I'm not the world's most physical guy / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine / Oh my Lola" /Ray Davies
  • Sudden thought: Christianity is a 2000-year extension of a state of spiritual emergency that Jesus thought would last a year or two.
  • Sweden has recently reformed its coinage. Convenient for me and the students: when it was time to seed trenches B and C with fresh coins before backfilling, for once we had lots of recent issues.
  • Talked about books with a dinner party dominated by Swedish non-geek journalists. Almost no overlap of references. Someone read the country's biggest newspaper's recommended books list out. Nothing rang a bell with me. I pay no attention to Swedish-language publishing, particularly not as regards mainstream fiction.
  • I'm kind of surprised that nobody's tried to buy my loyalty. People have demanded it on the flimsiest of grounds, but nobody's willing to pay. The stupidest case was the asshole Norwegian professor who told me to shut up online because I was hurting the workplace environment at his department. The one he was keeping me from employment at.
  • Just taught 7 Wonders to nine Dutch and Spanish students. Phew!
  • Threw out some hooks, and lo & behold, I got a nibble right away!
  • Public transport apps really make your movements across town incredibly efficient. I could never have come up with these combos back in the days of paper time tables.
  • At the Museum of World Culture: benumbed and queasy from a context-less global kaleidoscope of dissociated fragments.
  • The charcoal from the hearth the students excavated earlier this week is alder, Alnus sp. This is good news because alders don't live for very long, and so the risk of a high intrinsic age is low when we get a radiocarbon date. (The centre of an oak trunk is hundreds of radiocarbon years older than this year's fresh growth.)
  • I just deleted the automatic reminder in my calendar that has had me checking the academic job ads every third Monday for 14 years. *bliss*
  • Fun idea for a Rechthaber with a lot of spare time. Apply for all academic jobs in some field and systematically & immediately publish all applications and evaluations online to invite public scrutiny. In Sweden the authorities can't refuse to divulge any paperwork having to do with public-sector hiring.
  • My new buddy the Palestinian engineer from Homs tells me his brother is at university and doing super, super poorly. On purpose. To avoid graduating and getting conscripted into Assad's army.
  • This is very weird. I no longer have any reason to improve my archaeological qualifications. If anything, I may one day have to re-train completely to become a licensed librarian or teacher. But I no longer have to publish or perish. It's been one of my main drivers since I was 22.
  • I've seen a dramatic improvement in Norwegian's time-table accuracy from Gothenburg to Stockholm in the past three weeks. First week the flight was 6 hours late. Second week, 3 hours. And yesterday only ½ hour!!!
It looks a little tyred (Garden Society of Gothenburg)

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I visited the Gothenburg Book Fair for the first time because of my new book. The Academy of Letters needed people to put on the Researcher's Square stage, and conveniently one of their staff had just published a book with them - me. When the local organiser saw me she did a double take because I…
Inspired by Karin Bojs's and Peter Sjölund's recent book Svenskarna och deras fäder, I've looked into my ancestry by means both genetic and genealogical. Here's a few highlights. Like most Stockholmers, I'm of mixed rural Swedish stock. My great grandpa's generation contains 16 people born mainly…
I'm writing this on the train home from Lidköping on Lake Vänern in Västergötland province. I've spent a pleasant day discussing an interesting fieldwork project with colleagues. Gothenburg PhD student dynamic duo Anneli Nitenberg and Anna Nyqvist Thorsson have been working for years on the…
My dad tried out his new motorboat recently, going with my extra mom from Stockholm around Scania to Gothenburg and then across the country through the Göta Canal to Norrköping and back north to Stockholm again. Passing through Lake Roxen he sought out Sättuna in Kaga parish on the lake's SW shore…

The late Stanislaw Lem likewise ducked graduating as an MD as he would then have ended up in the Polish army. Having served in the underground and narrowly avoided Gestapo, he felt he had done his bit.
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"The board is in their heads"
-having just read an article in Nature, I recall that spatial awareness is a good predictor of creativity in math et cetera.
BTW the young Lady Gaga was in the top percentile of students that took part in a study of long-term academic success correlated with early SAT scores.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 05 Oct 2017 #permalink

Then there was the character in the Richard Gordon novels who had a trust which would fund him as long as he was in medical school, and he therefore had to contrive to remain a perpetual medical student without ever either graduating or getting thrown out.

By Colin Rosenthal (not verified) on 05 Oct 2017 #permalink

Everyone should be proud to be a late-19th century farmer in Tanum!

"Tanum is one of the first municipalities to require urine-separation toilets to help combat the looming global shortage of phosphorus. Urine is the most concentrated source of phosphorus according to Associate Professor Cynthia Mitchell, of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)."

Hell, they didn't need to invent a special new kind of toilet for that - I'll piss anywhere people want me to, smug in the knowledge that I'm contributing to a sustainable future.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

I wonder if it has to be human piss, or whether cows' piss will do. Because cows piss waaay more than humans do.

You find that out the first time you are hand milking a cow and she decides to piss into the milk pail and all over you, just out of spite.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

Raised soil phosphates allowed my friend Kristina Bengtsson to find the Gothenburg area's biggest 1st millennium mead-hall in Ytterby. She told me recently that some of the phosphates are royal ones, from the saga kings who quaffed mead in that building and occasionally went out to piss.

I like that. That's a good piece of archaeological detective work. I wonder how she could tell which phosphates were regal.

I had an English buddy in HK, from Devon, who was infamous for the length of time he could drink pints of English bitter without needing to go to the toilet. He was a skinny guy, not especially tall, and no one could figure out where he was putting it all. But I'd guess that when he finally did go, he would go by the gallon. He would have been a useful source of phosphates, unless he just diluted them too much, I don't know.

He was so infamous for his beer consumption that one Sunday, the guys decided to keep a count on him in the bar. He started drinking at 10.00 am. By the time he was 'done' he had managed to consume 17 pints. Independently verified by several observers - 17 pints of English bitter, in one all-day drinking session.

He's dead now. Not really surprising, I suppose. There's a brewery somewhere in England whose profits probably dipped noticeably as a consequence.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2114226/future-one-…

Give me strength. What makes some US Congressional Committee who have probably never been anywhere near HK think they know how well "one country two systems" is being implemented?

'Commission chairman Senator Marco Rubio said he intended to nominate student leaders Wong, Law and Chow for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to honour their “peaceful efforts to bring political reform and protect the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration”.'

Well, Commission chairman Senator Marco Rubio has just demonstrated what an utter moron he is - Wong, Law and Chow were not imprisoned because they were peacefully protesting in favour of democracy; that doesn't get you locked up in HK. It doesn't even qualify for getting a talking to by the HK Police - their job includes the duty to remain strictly politically neutral.

They were imprisoned because they all committed serious acts of violence, during which some physically small and very polite middle aged female HK Chinese security guards were physically injured, enough to put some of them in hospital, without having done anything to invite violent acts against them by three young men who behaved like thugs.

If that qualifies people for the Nobel Peace Prize, it makes me wonder what the hell the name of the prize actually signifies - that you qualify for the Peace Prize if you commit acts of violence against defenceless females in support of something Senator Rubio personally approves of?

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

Plus Wong is in no sense a "student leader" - he performed so badly in his final school exams that he was unable to gain a place in any university to study any subject, including those tertiary institutions who call themselves universities but are not recognised as such by the accreditation body because they do not meet the necessary academic standards.

So, not only is he not a "student leader", he is no longer a student. He is a full time trouble maker who still lives at home with his father, a very outspoken Christian person and anti-gay activist, and generally deeply unpleasant man. Maybe Senator Rubio is impressed by Wong's religious credentials, or maybe it is the endless in-your-face gay bashing that impresses him.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

Re @1, about the article in Nature. Here it is:
How to raise a genius: lessons from a 45-year study of super-smart children http://www.nature.com/news/how-to-raise-a-genius-lessons-from-a-45-year…
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Feeling old: "The Social Network" https://xkcd.com/1898/
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The Las Vegas Shooter Didn’t Just “Snap.” They Never Do. http://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/10/the-las-vegas-shooter-…

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

"Neanderthals were a different species to us after all". That's definitely debatable, not made any easier by the fact that there is no unique definition of what qualifies as a species.

Some palaeoanthropologists and geneticists refer to Neanderthals as Homo neanderthalensis (i.e. different species of human, but closely related to Homo sapiens) and others as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (same species, but different enough to distinguish them from anatomically modern humans and classify them as a different sub-species, as opposed to Homo sapiens sapiens).

There is no 'correct' answer to this. Wolves can (and do) mate with coyotes and produce fertile offspring, but everyone would agree that wolves and coyotes are different species. But Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans are much closer genetically than wolves are to coyotes.

It's annoying enough, but it is what it is - the 'species' concept has utility, but it is not a precisely or uniquely defined concept.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

Lessons from Africa.

http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674%2817%2931131-5#.WddUEzWm-v…

They've just twigged that Africa is the best place to study the genetic bases for complex human traits, including genetic variants associated with disease, because 99% of our evolutionary experience as a species was spent in Africa. Duh. Erm...being wholly inclusive, for some of 'us' 100% of our...you get my point.

Well, that took them a while.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2017 #permalink

WATCH: Huge celestial fireball appears over China https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/watch-huge-celestial-fireball-appears-…
You can estimate the velocity of the meteor relative Earth (x) before it was accelerated by Eart’s gravity, since energy is proportional to the square of velocity.
Final velocity: 14.6 km/s. Earh’s escape velocity: 11.2 km/s. 14.6 squared is 213.16 11.2 squared is 125.44
So x squared is 213.16-125.44 Original velocity was 9.4 km/s which is consistent with an object that started off in the asteroid belt and orbits in the same plane as Earth.
Space dust from comets have a much different orbital plane and can hit Earth head-on (up to 70 km/s)

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 07 Oct 2017 #permalink

Yeah, Arsenal missed out on competing in the Champions League this year, due to finishing outside the top four in the English Premier League last year.

Oh the humiliation.

Funny story - I became an Arsenal fan when I was just a kid living in Australia, for the simple reason that their logo is a cannon with a pile of cannon balls. I mean, what could appeal more to a male child than that, when he had nothing else to go on? I was encouraged to take an interest in English soccer was my next door neighbour, who was an English kid from the East End of London the same age as me, back in the days when the East End of London definitely meant low SES white. His dad had worked at the gasworks, and I couldn't understand a word the old man said, but the son and I soon became good pals.

But the only English soccer news we got in those days was in black and white newspapers. So somehow I got the idea that Arsenal's colours were actually West Ham's colours. Imagine my shock when I discovered that, rather than maroon and blue, their colours are red and white.

The other shock I got was when I discovered that, traditionally, Arsenal were a Catholic team, whereas their arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur were Anglican/Protestant, and that I had chosen the team of the bitter enemy religion to mine.

By John Massey (not verified) on 07 Oct 2017 #permalink

I meant last season, sorry.

Fuzzy southern hemisphere thinking.

For Australian football, season = year. For English soccer, it doesn't.

Same in academia. For Australia, academic year runs from Feb to Nov. For HK, it runs from August one year to June the next.

So, for my daughter, doing her schooling in HK, but then attending universities in Australia, she had a time gap between finishing secondary school in June one year and starting university in Feb the following year. That's a long gap when you are at that age.

By John Massey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2017 #permalink

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/09/19/190843

"The gateway into Remote Oceania: new insights from genome-wide data."

The whole paper is available, but if you can get your head around the whole lot of it, I'd say you are doing extremely well.

Basic message - there were Papuans who made the trip all the way from Africa during the late Pleistocene, and there were Austronesians who originated in Taiwan and made a whole series of amazing migrations very much more recently, and in the islands of the west Pacific, the two groups got...erm...mixed up in rather complicated ways, and the complications were different in different island groups.

By John Massey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2017 #permalink

Funniest science news headline of the week so far: "Hubble just spotted something massive coming out of Uranus."

By John Massey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2017 #permalink

John@10: Anybody can be nominated for a Nobel Prize. And even if this trio won, it wouldn't be the most egregious case, not with Henry Kissinger having shared the prize in 1973 (with Le Duc Tho).

I was already well aware that Sen. Rubio is an idiot--he was the 2016 Presidential primary candidate who failed a Turing test at one of the debates. This is just one more piece of evidence in favor of that position.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Oct 2017 #permalink

Eric, yes and yes. Welcome back, stranger, you've been missed.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Oct 2017 #permalink

Real life kept me offline for the last two weeks: a conference trip (local for me, but that meant I had to commute to the meeting instead of staying at the hotel) and a trip to an undisclosed location near Washington-IAD. The latter trip took me to Loudoun County, VA, about 50 km west of central Washington. Like most of the US, it's a horrible place to be without a car (which I did not have--the hotel provided transportation to and from the airport).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Oct 2017 #permalink

Birger@30: That Pearls Before Swine strip is too painfully true.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Oct 2017 #permalink

Eric@31 - My older Chinese nephew, someone I really like and whose opinion I trust, studied for his first degree in Houston and hated it - said it was an awful place and a nightmare to get around.

Then he moved to Arizona to do his master's and absolutely loved it. Played tennis for his university, and generally had a very enjoyable life while he was there. He's tall and handsome, grew his hair to shoulder length and got very sun tanned playing tennis, and he came back looking like an idealised image of a classic North American Plains Indian.

That's not really what I would have expected, but he said it was so, and I'm willing to believe him.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Oct 2017 #permalink

The gaseous products from rock blasting include high concentrations of oxides of nitrogen, usually conveniently clumped together for reference as NOx. Individual compounds vary in their adverse human health effects - nitrogen dioxide is particularly damaging to the lungs. I have noted pain in my lungs when accidentally getting a breath full of NOx.

The person in charge of a blast is usually called a Shotfirer. (S)he is the person who supervises the charging of blast holes with explosive, and attachment and connecting up of detonators, ensures that everyone is in a safe position, and then who fires the shot (i.e. detonates the blast). And (s)he is the first person permitted to go back to the blast face to check whether there have been any misfires resulting in leaving some explosives undetonated, a potentially hazardous situation. (I'm using both genders because I have worked with one female Shotfirer in HK, a married Australian woman with some kids, and she is not unique in the world - female Shotfirers are not that uncommon.)

Before the Shotfirer returns to the blast face, (s)he needs to wait until the potentially hazardous NOx have cleared. This is particularly important with tunnel blasting for self-evident reasons - the NOx are in a confined space and take longer to vent. (Plus there are other potential hazards - loose rock blocks could be left in the tunnel roof which could fall without any prior warning, so careful inspection of the roof is required before re-entry.)

But it has been particularly noticeable to me that a lot of Shotfirers deliberately return to the blast face too early, before the NOx have had time to clear, and make sure they get a good deep breath of NOx when they do. One of them has admitted to me that he is addicted to the NOx and loves them - loves the smell, and the physical effects they induce. I have also noticed that the smell is curiously attractive, and seemingly mildly euphoria-inducing. (But I am wary of that pain in the lungs and so usually take care not to get too much of the stuff.)

This helps to explain why NOx are so seductive to those who are regularly exposed:
https://theconversation.com/weekly-dose-from-laughing-parties-to-whippe…

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

If you are flying a bf 109 or Focke-Wulff 190 (without turbocharger) you will enjoy having a bit of nitrous oxide for high-altitude engine performance to catch up with the Mustang fighter escort.
This was the second application of nitrous oxide, apart from inhaling it..

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

NB: Luwian hieroglyphic inscription explains the end of the Bronze Age https://phys.org/news/2017-10-luwian-hieroglyphic-inscription-bronze-ag…
-But this does not explain the whole story. Yes, the invasion would temporarily have cut off the trade between the mediterranean and the levant, but if the king had a well-organised kingdom -note the garrison at Ashkelon- it would just have taken up the slack from the defeated kingdoms and city-states. Much more would have been going on around the levant to cause a permanent collapse of trade and political systems.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Any claim that one inscription explains the end of the Bronze Age can safely be ignored. Though I suppose it may just be the sub-editor's headline, not an actual statement by the study's authors.

I had a friend from my university days, unfortunately now deceased as of last year, which I found out about only very recently when I tried to make contact with him again, who was a car fanatic. (He was a 'mature student', about 10 years older than me. I still don't know why he died, only that he had 'passed' suddenly and unexpectedly - I presume the usual culprit in such cases, heart disease, although a fatal traffic accident is an equal possibility in his case.)

He went on holiday to America often because he had a passion for the old style American muscle cars. He was specifically a Buick fan and ended owning several lovingly restored models from the muscle car era, although when I knew him at university he owned a 1948 Packard 'straight eight', which was already a collector's item then - monster of a car, I could like full length on the rear bench seat with room to spare. Such afficionados adore large capacity brute force engines and eschew things like turbo-chargers (there's always that annoying turbo-charger lag when you plant your foot on the accelerator). And while in America he engaged in 'street racing' - seems like a fairly high risk pastime, but he was a fairly high risk kind of guy, or certainly had been in his youth.

And those street racers have a tank of nitrous oxide attached to their engines, which they can switch on to introduce the 'nitrous' into the fuel mixture, to give an extra boost of acceleration during a critical period in the race. He described to me the exhilaration of 'switching on the nitrous'.

So I guess that was the third application, and possibly borrowed from the similar application in WWII German fighter aircraft.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

I can recommend the work of the American author/academic Eric H. Cline, author of "1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History), published in 2015." He doesn't really think it all just suddenly collapsed in that year, he just chose that year more or less at random as indicative of the period of the collapse of the Mediterranean Bronze Age.

You don't need to buy the book, there are a couple of very good Youtube videos in which he lays it all out. Cline is a class act, a very good speaker who is a pleasure to listen to.

The book summary on Amazon is informative:
https://www.amazon.com/1177-B-C-Civilization-Collapsed-Turning/dp/06911…

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

He wasn't a white supremacist. He was an Imperial Englishman: Kipling, "White man's burden" etc. And a vocal opponent of Nazism. See the letter where he explains to a German publisher during the war that despite his German surname, he is sadly not a member of the admirable Jewish people.

"Volkswagen Oktoberfrest (sic) 2017 Invitation" came in the email.

I am so not going to that. "Drive your VW to our outdoor barbecue/beer guzzling event and then drive it home again!" Yeah, right.

Yes, my VW is turbocharged (petrol, I hasten to add, not diesel), and yes it has that annoying turbocharger lag. Slight. Still the fastest car I have ever owned though, at least in the low range. I never get to go faster than 90 kph or so in HK anyway.

Before I bought it, I consulted a South African work colleague who owned one, and asked him what he thought of his. He said "It's a brilliant car, but it has one major fault - it costs me a fortune in speeding fines." After I had mine for a while, he asked me whether I liked it (I love it) and asked me how many speeding tickets I had acquired since I bought it. When I answered "None" he said "Oh, you must have got one of the slow ones."

Retired now. Pity, I enjoyed his sense of humour.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Genetically boosting the nutritional value of corn could benefit millions https://phys.org/news/2017-10-genetically-boosting-nutritional-corn-ben…
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Stephen King's "From a Buick Eight" features something that *looks* like the aforementioned car model but is anything but. One of his better novels.
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Tolkien is old high German, an abbreviation of "tollkuhn" or "foolhardy".

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Martin@41 - Yeah, I didn't think so. But evidently he did profess admiration for the "northern race". But he also expressed a hatred of Hitler, and his admiration for the 'brilliance' of the Jews.

I think that Australian woman Helen Young would not see a difference between white supremacists and Imperial Englishmen, based on what she is quoted as saying in that interview.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Tolkien himself believed that his name had that Old High German etymology. Recently it has been pointed out that there's a town named Tołkiny in the briefly German-speaking area of East Prussia, currently north-east Poland...

The word "race" didn't mean "phenotype" to Tolkien's generation. It meant "people" or "nation". So he didn't mean that he thought us Scandies are genetically superior.

"White supremacist" is a recent American coinage. There is absolutely no way to place Tolkien in the same category as today's US race ideologues.

Young has managed to slip all the right buzz words in there to appeal to her crowd in Oz, though. Diversity. Inclusiveness. "We can still save Medieval Studies." They talk a big game, but tend not to walk the talk.

it might be interesting (or not) to ask for her opinion on Charles Darwin.

A more interesting question to ask people like her is "When was the last time you invited an (Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Aboriginal, African) person to your home for dinner?" Inclusiveness and diversity tend to be things they talk a lot about, but don't actually engage in on a personal level.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

I have to confess I was completely nonplussed by her claim that in Lord of the Rings "the "bad" races are constructed through orientalist stereotypes. Mostly those constructions are based on medieval tropes—Saracen armies, etc." That never remotely occurred to me when I read it, and I just don't see where she gets that from. I would have thought the Mongol armies might be a more obvious thing to imagine, although I didn't imagine that either.

But then I guess I fell down a different rabbit hole to the one she fell down.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras especially (but still persisting to this day, and a contributing factor to Brexit), the English had a well-deserved reputation for chauvinism. Among non-English, the English tended to think most highly of their fellow Germanic people, i.e., Germans, Scandinavians, and Dutch, who were most similar to the English. Other peoples were less well thought of, but not to a degree that would have been considered unusual in Victorian times. A great deal of that rubbed off on Americans, many of whom were Anglophilic.

Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice has fallen out of favor in recent years because of the anti-Semitism in the play, but there was nothing unusual about that level of anti-Semitism in that place and time[1], and Shakespeare made it quite clear that Shylock was provoked--he didn't approve of Shylock's method for seeking revenge, but he understood how Shylock got to that point.

[1]In most of Europe ca. 1600, it was actually quite a bit worse. That was the heyday of the Spanish Inquisition.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Eric, the mildly funny part of that is that the people that the English have historically loved to hate the most are the French (setting aside for a moment the Spanish - but I fancy the English have hated the French even more than the Spanish, or at least over a longer time span), and yet on a population level, geneticists can't distinguish between French and Germans. But then, they can't distinguish between British and Irish either - I am not sure who feels more insulted by that, the English or the Irish. The distinction is more cultural and linguistic than genetic.

It's no secret that King Edward VIII, who was king for less than a year before he abdicated, was a Nazi sympathiser. His younger brother had to take over the job - he had no such admiration for the Nazis, but he suffered from a serious speech impediment - a very bad stutter, a severe handicap for a monarch during wartime when he needed to make public speeches to keep up morale, etc. If you haven't watched the 2010 British film The King's Speech, I can recommend it, it's excellent. His speech therapist was an Australian, which is certainly not intuitively what you would expect.

On a somewhat happier note, I now know how to get into the guts of an iMac (wide screen Apple desktop). You look at an iMac and it appears seamless, right? No screws anywhere to unscrew; seemingly no possible way in. But a quick Internet search reveals any number of helpful videos or step-by-step instructions posted by thoroughly good people on how to do it - you need to get in by taking the screen off.

Covering the screen is a strong sheet of glass that is held on by nothing more than some very strong magnets. Once you slide that off (not easy, the magnets really are very strong, and the edge of the glass sheet is not visually obvious - one of the easier ways is to attach some strong adhesive tape to the front of the glass, and then pull on the tape to slide the glass off), then all is revealed - the screen is held on by 8 small screws, for which you need a Torx T10 screwdriver bit. I had a hard time finding one of those among my collection of tools, but I did eventually find one. I have no idea why I had it, but I did.

Take the screen off by removing the screws, and then carefully disconnecting the wiring connecting the screen to the innards, and you are in - there's the hard disk sitting there staring you in the face.

It's evident that there's a veritable army of people out there in cyberspace, male and female, who have been tinkering with the insides of their iMacs, rather than lugging them back to an Apple Shop or phoning for an Apple tech person to make a home call, who are only too happy to pass on what they have learned, anonymously. A sizeable subset of people are endlessly interesting, in what they get up to.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

-If cheap, hydrogen-rich methane becomes available, would it be possibe to use it to transform the long heavy-oil carbon chains currently used as toxic ship diesel fuel into shorter, more valuable chains, while sequestring the sulphur and Heavy metal pollutants?

"How fracking is upending the chemical industry" http://www.nature.com/news/how-fracking-is-upending-the-chemical-indust…

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

"The real roots of early city states may rip up the textbooks" https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23631462-700-the-real-roots-of-e…
Makes sense. Real kings are a greedy, unpleasant bunch. I would not be in a hurry to get to the monarchy stage.
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Ben Aaronvitch is also publishng the "Rivers of London" stories in comic book form, the completed story lines are published as graphic novels. Grade : A
And Michael Bendis wrote a praised comic book series now published as "Powers; Who killed Retro Girl?"
Grade: A+

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Dunno, but one of the things that has been screwing with HK air quality is that ships have been permitted to use high sulphur fuel here (HK is one of the world's busiest container ports, obviously, and the shipping lobby have stoutly resisted a ban on the use of high sulphur fuel here, whereas European ports have not permitted it).

Anyway, that all came to an end last year when my old pal, the current Under Secretary for the Environment put her foot down and banned it. There has been a detectable improvement in air quality since, although the shipping has been only one of the sources of major pollutants, so it hasn't been huge. But every bit counts.

Now we just need to get petrol and diesel driven private cars off the roads (including mine), while leaning as heavily as we can on our dear Comrades to the north.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Hooray! I just received the latest installment of "Rivers of London". It was mailed from Britain September 1st and I had given up hope.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Birger@53- Evidence of the same dynamic emerged in China much earlier than 500 BC. There is lots of written evidence that the Shang Dynasty with its succession of kings was constantly warring, and taking prisoners, who were later used for human sacrifice. Dates are disputed, but thought to start around 1600 BC. There may have been earlier dynastic states, but evidence is sketchy. There were clearly earlier 'cultures', some of which might have been city states, but no written records, or at least not readily decipherable records.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 #permalink

Fun fact: Ytterby is the town with the most chemical elements named after it. Stockholm has just one.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 16 Oct 2017 #permalink

Most places don't have any elements named for them. so to have even one is something of an honor. Other than Ytterby, I can name only one place with more than one element named after it: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California, whence the names californium, berkelium, and lawrencium. I'm not sure if americium was also discovered at LBL. But all of those are transuranic elements, not found in nature. The four named after Ytterby (erbium, terbium, ytterbium, and yttrium) are all naturally occurring.

It's not obvious that holmium is named after Stockholm, since "-holm" is a common suffix in Swedish place names. But according to Wikipedia, Stockholm is known in Latin as Holmia.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 Oct 2017 #permalink