Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How do Queensland's top judges come up with such decisions?

High court reinstates Gerard Baden-Clay's murder conviction | Australia news | The Guardian

I didn't post about it at the time, as I wanted to:  the Queensland Court of Appeal's decision on the Baden-Clay murder conviction just didn't make any sense to me.   It seemed that if you took its view, you could virtually never get a murder (as opposed to a manslaughter) conviction in cases where there was no witness to the death, especially if the defendant gave evidence that it was an accident.  But it seemed particularly risible in a case where the accused himself had given evidence that there had been no fight of any kind, the jury had clearly rejected it as being untruthful, but then the defence argued effectively on appeal "so he lied, but you still can't find anything more than if he did cause her death, it might have been an accident".

The report of the High Court decision indicates that my instincts on this were right:
It noted that Baden-Clay at trial denied fighting with his wife, killing
her and then dumping her body, which was found under a bridge at Kholo
creek 11 days after she went missing.

“His evidence, being the evidence of the only person who could give
evidence on the issue, was inconsistent with that hypothesis [of

“Further, the jury were entitled to regard the whole of the evidence
as satisfying them beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent acted
with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm when he killed his
Yes:  if a jury considers a defendant is lying through his teeth, they are under no obligation to then give him or her the "benefit of the doubt" as to the next most innocent explanation, at least (or especially) where there is clear evidence of motive for intentional killing. 

Ever since the Pauline Hanson conviction was overturned by the High Court, I have wondered how it is that Queensland's Supreme Court judges manage to make such wrong decisions.  (I'm pretty sure that in that case, the High Court was again unanimous that the Queensland judges were just obviously wrong.)

How do we manage to get judges here that seem so capable of poor decisions? 

Hi Tech car thieves

Savvy car thieves harnessing new technology ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

I've wondered sometimes about whether, with the right electronics, modern cars can still be stolen.  Seems the answer is "yes":
Even models that utilize electronic keys can be stolen by use of a
so-called key programmer, which can be easily made by modifying easily
available materials.

Earlier this year, police in Ibaraki Prefecture arrested a gang of
car thieves using such a device, which is small enough to fit in the
palm of one’s hand.

“A modified key programmer is used to enter the car’s internal
computer, and then rewrite the program, making it possible to start the
engine,” a police investigator was quoted as saying. “In the past this
required 30 minutes or longer to accomplish, but the newer types can do
it in about 10 minutes. The thieves are able to obtain key programmers
made in China for around 100,000 yen.”

The modified key programmers are unable to open a car’s door, and up
to now the thieves had to break a window to get access to the vehicle’s
interior. More recently, however, new techniques for popping open care
doors have become widespread.

“Using the technique of ‘dempa-jack’ (electronic hijacking), they can
release the door locks from a distance,” a staff member of Protector, a
firm that specializes in car security, tells the tabloid. “They do this
by intercepting electronic signals emitted by the car and copying them,
then transmitting them back. This method is common overseas and
recently has started to be used in Japan.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dealing with the plebiscite

John Quiggin - An offer he can’t accept

JQ's suggestion as to how Shorten could best deal with the attempted wedge on Labor about the plebiscite (really, by a reverse wedge - but one which makes sense) sounds like a good political move to me.  I wonder if Shorten will take it up?

Interesting despite one glaring error

The Multiverse Idea Is Rotting Culture - The Atlantic

Well, I suppose magazine editors don't have to know much about science, but I'm still surprised that this article was let through with a paragraph that talks about a laser shooting electrons.

Nonetheless, it's worth a read. 

[I'm not saying it's particularly well written, by the way, but it eventually raises some interesting issues.  It's getting a drubbing in comments, where I am also surprised to not yet see anyone grinding their teeth on the laser/electron thing.]

Monday, August 29, 2016

Seem like good questions to me

Some questions for those who are cheering Gawker's demise / Boing Boing

All at sea - The Conspiracy

I strongly recommend this recently published account in Popular Mechanics of a reporter (and her photographer) going on a cruise with a bunch of conspiracy nutters.  It turns into a real problem when they become the victims of paranoia.

Most surprisingly - Andrew Wakefield (he of the discredited autism/vaccine link) was one of the speakers, and while he is only a bit player in the article, he really does not come out looking good.

Reading this reminded me of something I perhaps didn't say here before - the absolute worst aspect of the new series of X Files was its incorporation of a secret government vaccine conspiracy (not Scully's unflattering hairstyle.)   Yes, even worse that its having a conspiracy broadcaster who actually was onto something, I reckon it's a disgrace to give any encouragement at all, even in fiction, to any dimwit watching  (and they are out there) to the belief that vaccines are evil and to be avoided.

"What - me worry?" Ridley

The prominent lukewarmer Matt Ridley is given a run in The Australian today (reprinting an article from The Times) in which he argues that a completely melted Arctic ice cap each summer wouldn't matter much anyway.  Quite benign, in fact.

The article quotes some research I haven't read about, so I'll wait for actual scientists to address that.  But clearly, the article relies heavily on reasoning that goes over well with the silly and gullible:  that a large climatic change like (relatively?) ice free summers in the Arctic in previous millennia were not bad for the wildlife (and humanity) then, so why would it be so bad for them now?    I feel the flaws in such reasoning are so obvious, it is hardly worthwhile putting them down on paper.   But someone will, I have no doubt, and I'll link to them instead when I notice it...

Trump and the Catholics

I always thought that US Catholics would have trouble with Trump, and I'm pleased to see that they emphatically do:
Back in 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost the Catholic vote by just 2 points, 50 percent to 48 percent. And the GOP has actually won the Catholic vote as recently as 2004 and in 5 of the last 10 11 presidential elections.

But Trump trails among Catholics by a huge margin. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released this week shows him down 23 points, 55-32.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released earlier this month painted an even worse picture for Trump’s Catholic support. He was down by 27 points, 61-34.
It's only conservative Catholics who like to engage in the culture wars they've already, by and large, lost who would vote for him for tribal, anti-Clinton reasons alone.   (See the conservative Catholics of Catallaxy, for example.)  There is nothing Catholic friendly, in terms of consistency with Catholic social teaching, in Trump's threats-which-pass-for-half-baked policy.

About as evil as you can get

Father identifies British boy 'killer' seen executing a captured prisoner in Syria � | Daily Mail Online

Of all the atrocities of Islamic State, I think I find myself most appalled by the ones like this - where they get boys to do executions of what the rest of the world would call prisoners of war.  Absolutely shocking and appalling.  The links shows photos, but of course, I would not watch the video. 

The Vox alt-right explainer

The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder. - Vox

One thing I have wanted to say about Milo Y:  I've only read a couple of things apparently written by him on Breitbart, and I thought they were, from a stylistic point of view, very poorly written.   (I see it is claimed that he has minions who do much of his writing for him, and perhaps that explains it.) 

I didn't watch his Andrew Bolt interviews, but why anyone would be impressed by him is beyond me...

Monday disease

41 cases of locally transmitted Zika confirmed in Aljunied Crescent cluster, 34 fully recovered, Health News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

I wonder if Singaporeans themselves are surprised, given its general super clean image, that the island state has reported scores of cases of locally transmitted zika disease.   It can't be great news for their tourism sector.

See the story above from the local paper, showing great clouds of insecticide being deployed.   I would bet there is a lot of that going on over the next few weeks.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A trilogy of diseases

Time for 3 stories of unpleasant diseases I noticed this week:

*  a terribly depressing situation with tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea.  Drug resistant TB there continues to spread, and a quarter of cases are in children who, if they survive (it kills one in 10, apparently) may well have life long disabilities in a country with next to no services for them.

The Guardian reports that doctors are starting to worry about treatment resistant fungal infections.  And the resistance may be coming from a surprising source:
More than a million people die of fungal infections every year, including about 7,000 in the UK, and deaths are likely to increase as resistance continues to rise.

Researchers say the widespread use of fungicides on crops is one of the main causes of the rise in fungal resistance, which mirrors the rise of resistance to antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in humans.
As for medicines available: there aren't many:
“There are more than 20 different classes of antibacterial agents. By contrast, there are only four classes of anti-fungal agents. Our armoury for dealing with deadly fungi is much smaller than the one we have for dealing with bacteria.

“We cannot afford to lose the few drugs we have – particularly as very little funding is being made available for research into fungi and fungal infections.”
 The article also mentions the case of an apparently fungal lung infection that killed a bagpipe player.

*  And for this final round of unpleasant thoughts:  I guess I had heard before that people can get a gonorrhoea infection in their throat or mouth, but I'm not sure I had realised that it could be carried there, without symptom, for weeks or months, and be transmitted on via that common bedroom activity that's not intercourse.   A doctor thinks, based on some early tests, that gargling with ordinary commercial mouthwash might be helpful in preventing its spread, although I don't think he thinks it will kill off entirely.

Gee, I wonder how the Listerine company might cope with that information in advertisements. 

The French and toast

My wife made French toast for a Sunday morning treat today (and she makes it very well - using a French stick cut thickly, and the bread soaked in the milk and eggs overnight.)

We eat it with maple syrup, which led to the question - do the French eat French toast, 'cos the syrup makes it seem more like an American meal.

So off to Wikipedia it is, where the French toast entry is not as detailed as I feel it deserves, but it at least tells us the recipe pre-dates France quite considerably.  (Basically, it goes back to Roman days, and has been seen in many countries as a good way to make stale bread palatable.)

This entry on the history of the dish at "Today I Found Out" (a site which has a very appealing name for someone like me) is much more readable.  The site says this:
Indeed, the name for French toast in France itself is “pain perdu”, which literally means “lost bread” (it is also called this in Belgium, New Orleans, Acadiana, Newfoundland, and the Congo, among other places). It’s interesting to note, for the naysayers who like to cling to the belief that it came from France, that before the French called it pain perdu, they called it “pain a la Romaine” (Roman bread).
And this: 
In France itself, French toast is highly sweetened and is served as a dessert item, rather than served for breakfast, as in America and many other places.
So, now we know. 

The French and swimwear

I can't be bothered working out a position to take on the French attempting to enforce smaller swimwear on women, except to remind people that the country has a history of being very prescriptive about swimwear in a way that leads to foreign men, at least in  public pools, also being forced to wear less than they otherwise might in their own country.   And, as I noted not so long ago, up until about the 1960's, many boys and teenage guys in many parts of the US were forced by their State school system -or if they were learning at a YMCA - to take swimming lessons nude.  Go back further, and England had to ban men bathing nude - at the beach - in the 1860's, and this coincided with bans on mixed bathing, as well.

Yes, I know, both of the first two examples are about alleged hygiene concerns in pools, not the ocean.   But just wanted to note that the history of regulation of bathing suits has taken many peculiar turns, in many countries, one way or the other over the years...

Paging Dr Nick

One of the more amusing things to come out of the Trump/alt right conspiracy mongering about Hillary's health is a re-examination of the Trumpian sounding letter from Trump's doctor.

As I said in comments recently, the letter put me in mind of Dr Nick from the Simpsons (and I bet I'm not the first to think that), and as it turns out, the doctor does at least look a little unconventional.  (See story at the link.)   The funniest suggestion in the WAPO story is that a "positive" medical test often means something bad..was Trump's doctor trying to tell us something?   It's logic worthy of the alt right itself, but pretty funny. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sensitive Tim and gay marriage

Oh, so newly elected walking selfie Tim "Send in the water cannon" Wilson is now taking to re-tweeting rude tweets from lefties?   To show up the intolerant Left?  Seems a bit rich...

As to the whole same sex marriage plebiscite - what a mess this issue is.  While I think a plebiscite is actually not a bad idea for everyone for a major social and legal change, I would expect it to be conducted conveniently (and economically) with an election day vote.  But this seemed to have been beyond Turnbull's ken to get going in time for the last election.  Do we blame deals with his conservative Coalition base for that?  I'm not sure.

Now with the Greens going all "principled" again (they manage to delay a lot of useful things to their side of politics by doing this) it seems there won't be one for years.  Actually, I wonder if it's more likely now that we won't have one at all, and gay marriage will just come in via a new Labor government.  But I could be wrong.

It's one of those issues where everyone's annoying - gay activists by carrying on too much about how dire it will be for gay teens to hear rhetoric against it;  conservatives for going on about how it will be a cultural disaster that will see people locked up for refusing to marry same sex couples.  And Tim Wilson for criticising the Greens, when members of his own party are interested in delaying the inevitable, including undertaking not to be bound by the result anyway.  

And for the record, again:  I would favour civil unions over gay marriage.  If the plebiscite had been held at the last election, I would have likely have voted "no", but with the expectation that the "yes" vote would win, and without any great concern that it would end Western civilisation.  (Or perhaps, I would just have voted informal on this - that's probably the better line for someone like me to take, given my preferred option is not on the table.)   Give it another couple of years of listening to argument about it, though, I might be persuaded to vote "yes" for gay marriage, just so I can stop hearing about it....

A funny line about Coulter

The Great Ann Coulter Immigration Bamboozle

From The Federalist, of all places:
“I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in the White House after this immigration policy paper,” Coulter tweeted last August, calling Trump’s immigration plan “the greatest political document since the Magna Carta.” At the time, due to my longtime understanding that Coulter is 85 percent ratings-and-book-sales-related shtick and 15
percent the amalgamated ghosts of old cigarettes, I shrugged and rolled my eyes.

Robot babies

I see that an evaluation of one of those "here, look after this demanding, crying, robot baby and see what a pain baby care is, so you'll know not to get pregnant" programs with teenagers in WA actually ended up with more of the robot carers getting pregnant.

I'm a little puzzled by this.  Haven't these programs been tried in the US for many, many years?  They've featured in some sitcoms for a long time, I'm sure.  Were those programs properly evaluated?  Or does it depend on the location of the teenage population (with, for example, teenagers in remote towns with little to do finding that even caring for a robot or real baby is better than being bored?)

The Hillary health campaign

The Trump/Guiliani/nutty Right wing conspiracist reliance on ridiculously concocted "evidence" of Hillary Clinton being seriously frail just goes to show what intense gullibility has swallowed up significant sections of the Right in the US, as well as the dearth of genuine good policy they have on which to run.   Just as they would prefer to believe that climate change is a self serving fabrication of money hungry scientists and/or socialists of the UN, rather than believe the hundreds of professional science bodies and the evidence of record temperatures before their eyes, they show little in the way of common sense, let alone good policy judgement, and swallow the silliest suggestions whole.  I am still inclined to blame the internet for this - I just don't think conspiracies used to get the hold on as large a part of the Western public in the pre-internet decades as they do now.

And it seems to me that the Trump campaign is probably facing a backlash for this - with one poll now showing a 10 point lead for Clinton, and ridicule of the health conspiracy finally making news.   Or maybe it's the Trump flip flopping on his populist immigration policy.  Who knows. 

And why haven't those in the GOP who want their party to have a skerrick of credibility been calling out Trump on this health conspiracy issue?  Are they just figuring that the only way the party can rise again is to see it first burn to the ground when the nutty element takes control?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More comedy stylings from the escapee from 1950

Spotted at Catallaxy, from someone who has become the walking definition of hysteria about homosexuality and the matter of gay marriage:

The video, incidentally, shows the weakest "firestorm" of violence since, well, I dunno, readers can up with their own comparison for wannabe violent confrontations that weren't anything to write home about. 

Providing for the dead

China's ghost weddings and why they can be deadly - BBC News: Police in north-west China have charged a man with murdering two women with mental disabilities, alleging that he wanted to sell their corpses to be used in so-called "ghost weddings".

It has put a spotlight on the ancient shadowy ritual, still practised in certain parts of China, which aims to provide spouses for people who die unmarried.
Read the whole thing - it's fascinating.

Yet more on (very odd) Japanese management ideas

The ‘handsome weeping boys’ paid to wipe away your tears - BBC News

This will, no doubt, be the oddest story about Japan you will read today.

Putin and the Noosphere

What is the Mysterious “Nooscope”? Let’s Ask Putin’s New Chief of Staff | Mysterious Universe

Russia has long been the home of crank-ish spirituality; although, as it happens, I'm quite fond of the idea of the Noosphere myself.  The possibility of an orbiting nooscope, though?  Sounds like something out of Philip K Dick.

What it means for Putin to be elevating someone who seems to take these ideas very seriously is anyone's guess.

More about "Japanese Schindler"

Documentary sheds light on Japanese who helped Jews escape Holocaust | The Japan Times

I've mentioned him before on this blog, way back in 2008.

The problem of regional predictions

Global climate models do not easily downscale for regional predictions | EurekAlert! Science News

Zhang and Michael Mann, Distinguished professor of atmospheric
science and director, Earth System Science Center, were concerned that
the direct use of climate model output at local or even regional scales
could produce inaccurate information. They focused on two key climate
variables, temperature and precipitation.

They found that projections of temperature changes with global
climate models became increasingly uncertain at scales below roughly 600
horizontal miles, a distance equivalent to the combined widths of
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. While climate models might provide
useful information about the overall warming expected for, say, the
Midwest, predicting the difference between the warming of Indianapolis
and Pittsburgh might prove futile.

Regional changes in precipitation were even more challenging to
predict, with estimates becoming highly uncertain at scales below
roughly 1200 miles, equivalent to the combined width of all the states
from the Atlantic Ocean through New Jersey across Nebraska. The
difference between changing rainfall totals in Philadelphia and Omaha
due to global warming, for example, would be difficult to assess. The
researchers report the results of their study in the August issue of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
The problem has been well known for some time, but I guess this is putting some more specific details into it.  Also, it makes it clear what nonsense it was for the head of the CSIRO to suggest we could afford to move on from climate modelling work.

Things you probably didn't know about airplane tires

Airplane Tires Don’t Explode on Landing Because They Are Pumped! | WIRED

The article ends by noting that it's really hard to make an airplane tire explode by overinflating, because they are designed to be so strong.  I presume they are better now than tires on Orions in the 1980's - as I am aware that an airman lost his legs due to an accidental overinflation explosion in Adelaide in that decade.

In other natural disaster news

Giant, deadly ice slide baffles researchers : Nature News & Comment: One of the world's largest documented ice avalanches is flummoxing researchers. But they suspect that glacier fluctuations caused by a changing climate may be to blame.

About 100 million cubic metres of ice and rocks gushed down a narrow valley in Rutog county in the west of the Tibet Autonomous Region on 17 July, killing nine herders and hundreds of sheep and yaks.

The debris covered nearly 10 square kilometres at a thickness of up to 30 metres, says Zong Jibiao, a glaciologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITPR) in Beijing, who completed a field investigation of the site last week.  The only other known incident comparable in scale is the 2002 ice avalanche from the Kolka Glacier1, 2
in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, says Andreas Kääb, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo in Norway. That catastrophic event killed 140 people.

I hadn't even heard of these, until now...

Roman earthquakes

Can an Earthquake Bring About the Fall of Rome? - TIME

With news of the deadly Italian earthquake, not all that far from Rome, I was curious about whether Rome itself has ever suffered a lot of damage from a major quake.  The answer appears in that Time article from 2012.  Seems from historical precedent that the city is not all that likely to ever be reduced to rubble; but sure, it has had some earthquake damage, and could get a moderately large shake again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Man, he's childish..

Just had a look at the Trump twitter feed:

Don't any of his advisers have the gumption to say to him - "Boss, I suggest you stop using these 'people are saying' and 'virtually everyone agrees' lines - they're seen as transparently self serving and a silly rhetorical device"?

Money for access

For people who like to accuse the mainstream media of liberal bias, aren't they are little surprised that the New York Times and the Washington Post both have had articles playing up the concern about the Clinton emails and the "access for money" issue they raise?

I find it hard getting too worked up about this:  money for access to politicians (via political donations and attendance at exorbitantly priced fundraisers) is so common now that it seems beyond winding back.  True, from little I have read, it seems that the Clinton arrangement incorporated an indirect - but only just - wealth enhancement to the Clintons personally (via Bill being paid by his own foundation?), and I can understand why people think this is a bit rich (ha!)   But as for how bad it is for good governance - isn't the problem that to get too horrified by it, you have to show that the payment did in fact lead to corrupt and bad decisions?  As far as I can tell, so far, no one has pointed to a clearly egregious example of such a decision as a result of donation to the Clinton Foundation, which lead to an email to Hilary, which led to a meeting, which led to a bad decision that would not otherwise have been made.  But I stand to be corrected.   It seems from the most recent articles that donors who contacted Hilary or her staff for help often didn't get much "value for money"; sometimes getting responses that were more "I dunno.  Good luck with that one.  Oh, and thanks for the donation, again."

Anyhow, here's the choice:  a candidate who has a long history of doing very well personally out of politics and political connections - sometimes in dubious fashion - but who appears basically sound on matters economic, understands foreign affairs (even if you don't agree with every decision she made - but let's face it, it's frequently a case of not being able to win no matter who you support when it comes to foreign policy, especially in the Middle East), and believes scientists when it comes to climate change - the global issue of the century with dire planet wide risks.

On the other hand - a narcissistic flip flopping ignoramus, with terrible judgement as to who to take policy advice from, who still thinks decades later that his being able to use hairspray with CFCs was more important than fixing the ozone hole.

It's just not a realistic comparison.

Update:  I think I can say that this BBC summary of the issues with the Foundation over the years supports my general take on the matter.

Update 2:  and here's the Slate take on the matter.  Pretty much along the same lines - the Foundation was sort of asking for trouble; or at the very least, doubts.  Perhaps the best line in this article is this:
You don’t need to believe the Clintons orchestrated some sort of pay-for-play scheme to know that there is something wrong with a dynamic where it is nearly impossible to prove whether they did or did not.   
 But this is still not the same as showing the Clintons were corrupt in any highly serious way.

And it's not as if people shouldn't have doubts about Trump's ability to remain a cleanskin.  If anything, his refusal to be upfront about his tax returns, and the connections with Russian money (that do indeed go to the matter of direct benefit to him and his businesses), as well as his generically self centred, immature attitude to everything, show him to be a fertile field for future corruption and secret dealings.

Update 3:  Here's the Michael Yglesias take on the matter at Vox, more defensive of Clinton than other media.  Key point:
Here’s the bottom line: Serving as secretary of state while your husband raises millions of dollars for a charitable foundation that is also a vehicle for your family’s political ambitions really does create a lot of space for potential conflicts of interest. Journalists have, rightly, scrutinized the situation closely. And however many times they take a run at it, they don’t come up with anything more scandalous than the revelation that maybe billionaire philanthropists have an easier time getting the State Department to look into their visa problems than an ordinary person would.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Japanese management style

BBC - Capital - Why you don’t give praise in Japan

This all sounds about right, from what limited amount I have heard about the Japanese workplace. It is all rather odd, from a Western perspective:

Traditionally, the Japanese language had no word for feedback because
it just wasn’t something that anybody did, says Sharon Schweitzer, CEO
of Protocol and Etiquette Worldwide, and an expert on how managers can
assimilate in foreign countries. So they had to make up a word, fīdobakku.

Yet, it’s still simply not something that’s done. “If you don’t hear from
your Japanese manager, you’re doing well,” Schweitzer says. “If your
manager asks for an update on your project, that means you’re not doing

Managers in Japan aren’t likely to ask for an update because
employees are expected to constantly provide them. It’s a process called
hou-ren-sou and it involves subordinates sending their boss
emails, all day long, about when they’re going to lunch, the percentage
of the project they’ve finished, when they’re taking a coffee break,

For foreign managers, the temptation may be to reply
with accolades, congratulating them on finishing 32% of the project. But
don’t, Schweitzer cautions. “If you reply and tell them good job, you
will lose face and they will lose face. Just say thank you or don’t
reply at all.”

A second series of Adam

Adam Ruins Everything, And For That We Thank Him - MTV

Yeah, I find this show (which was on SBS on Demand for a long time) good and entertaining, even if I don't always agree with his take on things. 

The American opioid problem

This city saw 26 opioid overdoses in less than four hours

Monday, August 22, 2016

I prefer my fish cooked

It's been quite a while since I've noticed any article about catching parasitic worms from eating raw fish, but here's one which goes into a lot of interesting detail:  

Parasitic Worms Burrow into Walls of Woman's Stomach After Meal: The worms can burrow into the walls of the stomach or the small intestine, though it is much more common to find them in the stomach, Fuchizaki said. About 95 percent of anisakiasis cases are in the stomach, he told Live Science.

When the worms burrow into the walls of the stomach, the symptoms usually develop within several hours of eating contaminated fish, Fuchizaki said. If the infection occurred in the small intestine, however, the symptoms wouldn't start until one to five days later, he said.

Some people may notice the worms even sooner than a few hours after eating raw fish — in some instances, people actually feel a tingling sensation in their mouth or throat while they are eating, which is caused by the worm moving around there, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people may be able to remove the worm with their hand or by coughing, the CDC says. Vomiting, which is often a symptom of anisakiasis, can also expel the worms, the CDC says.

In most cases, people experience pain and other stomach problems because the worms are damaging the tissue of the digestive tract, Fuchizaki said. But some people may be allergic to the worms, and experience an allergic reaction if they eat them, he said.

Because the worms do not reproduce in humans, they eventually die and cause an inflamed mass, according to the CDC.

A problem unsolved

I see via a Jason Soon tweet that the matter of "shy bladder" in men's public toilets is still the subject of articles, this one in Vox.  

I first posted about this topic in 2007, and made the very reasonable observation that, with modern public toilet design for the last few decades going nearly always with the individual ceramic urinal, it is dead easy to give each user a bit of privacy by installing simple, solid dividing screens to the wall between each one.  They don't have to be floor to head high; and I would assume that you'd really have to have a very serious aiming problem to ever miss the urinal so far that you could dirty one.   On the occasion I have been to a toilet incorporating such a design, I liked the additional bit of privacy, and I'm sure I would not be alone.

But yet, I have noticed over the intervening years that, even with new toilets in renovated shopping centres, this is pretty rarely an option taken up.


As the Vox article notes, and as any male knows, there is a lot of use of the toilet stalls by men who only want to urinate, causing dirtier toilets because of poor aim, etc.  

This is a well known and understood issue, so why is one obvious, useful and cheap design addition to public toilets routinely ignored?

Clearly, this is some bizarre failure of the free market, and it calls for government regulation!   (An approach Jason Soon would surely endorse - ahahahaha.)

A good conceit for a novel

Book Review: 'Ghost Talkers,' By Mary Robinette Kowal : NPR

The new opiate of the masses

The Virtues of Reality - The New York Times

Interesting idea put forward here by Ross Douthat - that some of the "old" problems associated with youth (rate of violence, unwanted pregnancies, etc) are getting better because they're happy to live in an internet/cyberworld of games and porn. 

And he deals with the theory in a non-panicky way. 

She can't handle the truth

Oh look, there goes Judith Sloan having an attack of the vapours because an Australian journalist correctly pointed out that about the only agitation about repeal of s18C Racial Discrimination Act comes from white privileged (usually male) people aligned with the IPA.

Once again, I wonder why she doesn't realise that her continual hyperbole (often in the bitchiest tone possible, especially when it comes to other economists) about, well, everything (she's also upset that swimmers were still in Rio after their competition had finished - yes really) means everyone outside of her tiny circle of fans from Catallaxy and the Australian (and that may be exactly the same, tiny group) ignore her? 

Update:  by the way, I don't doubt that the QUT s.18C case is pretty ridiculous, but seems to me there is every chance that the judgement might confirm that.   I wouldn't get into any frenzy about it until the outcome is known.  

Kubo (further in the long series - movies reviews no one is waiting for)

Yes, I did get to see Kubo and the Two Strings yesterday.

Some quick comments:

* While I knew that there would be a heavy emphasis on magic, I didn't realise it would be quite as mythological as it is.  

* I wasn't sure while watching the movie, but on checking afterwards, the matter of how it presents the Japanese tradition of welcoming the spirits of dead ancestors (and releasing them again) is entirely accurate - see these entries on the Bon Festival and Toro Nagashi at Wikipedia.   (I should explain - while I knew that there were countries that did the river lantern bit, I wasn't sure that it was done in Japan, and in this specific context.)

* I get the feeling that the theme of loss of memory might come from some particular story in Japanese folklore too, but I haven't found it yet.  And I could be wrong.  As for another explanation, as someone at a Reddit thread said, it seems quite possible that one of the writers may have personal experience with a parent with Alzheimer's.

* There are some story gaps which I would have liked to see filled.   For example, the underwater experience - it seems there should be more revealed about Kubo by the experience, but it doesn't happen.  

*  But overall:  yes, the movie looks and sounds great, and is often touching.   But I really want to see it again in better viewing conditions (there were a bunch of 12 year old boys completely uninterested in what was going on in the movie some distance in front of us, and they were distracting.)   I hate to say it, but I doubt it will be a break through financial success for Laika - the themes are too melancholic for children below about mid-Primary school level, I think; some teenagers (who really should see it) will think they are too cool to do so;  and while Laika has lots of adult fans, I'm not sure there are enough to help it make a lot more than $100 million per movie.

*  So - even if you think there is a chance you might like it - do so at a cinema now.   I'd like to see this art form by a studio with real beauty, heart and soul survive.

Message to Tim:   you would like it, I am pretty sure.

Update:   here's the top guy at Laika, saying that their next movies will be quite different.  He suggests that Kubo is like the end of a cycle.   I would say that I could see his point if it weren't for Box Trolls, as Coraline, Paranorman and Kubo all do show a great interest in supernatural, after-life issues.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

An app for the day

I have a bad habit of forgetting to turn my android phone ringer back on after turning it off for things like the cinema, or a concert.  A day later, I might look at the phone and realise that I have missed a call or two for that reason.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that it would be handy if you could set the ringer off for a certain period, to have it turn itself back on later without my further involvement.

And, indeed, there are many phone ring schedulers out there, which you can use for turning it off for evenings, or overnight, etc.

But the simplest one for the specific purpose I wanted seems to be Shush! Ringer Restorer.   Works very simply (just turn your ringer volume to zero and it pops up automatically, letting you assign the restoration in 1/4 hour increments.)

What a neat app (assuming it works, haven't fully tried it yet) for my problem.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump and racial sensitivity

Charles Blow at the NYT writes with some amusing clarity on the matter of Why Blacks Loathe Trump.  An extract:
He erupted like a rash onto the public consciousness on the front page of The New York Times in 1973 because he and his father were being sued for anti-black bias at their rental property.
This is the same man who took out full-page ads blaring the headline “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” in New York City newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers made up of four African-American boys and one Hispanic boy, who were accused and convicted of raping a white female jogger in the park. A judge later overturned the convictions in the flimsy cases and in 2014 the Five settled a wrongful conviction suit with the city for $41 million.
This is the same man who is quoted in the 1991 book “Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” as saying:
“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

Coalition: "Yes, we were a terrible, inhumane Opposition. So sorry"

Gee, this outburst of blame shifting and quasi-apologies from Liberals for how they acted whilst in Opposition under the then soon-to-be most inept PM in Australian history are coming thick and fast.

First, it was Tony himself musing that perhaps he should have let Labor try deflecting wannabe refugees to Malaysia instead of driving them to desperation in the dead end societies of Nauru and Manus Island.  Half- baked, not-really-an-apology-but-thanks-for-the-thought, no doubt not accepted by the people living in tents in the tropics for the last few years, Tony.

Yesterday, Morrison was happy to point out that he was only following orders from Abbott in that matter.  Strange how he nonetheless tied his rising star to a level of secrecy and dubious tactics including high seas bribery against refugees that were every bit as questionable as Abbott's self serving painting of Malaysia as the hell hole of Asia.

And today, Christopher Pyne says "well it wasn't me being the unreasonable one":
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne has blamed Tony Abbott’s former chief whip, Warren Entsch, for a series of bad calls that resulted in Labor MPs initially being refused leave during Julia Gillard’s hung parliament.
Mr Pyne, again touting his credentials as a “fixer”, insisted he overruled Mr Entsch’s hardball tactic of refusing parliamentary pairs for Labor’s Craig Thomson to attend the birth of his child and Michelle Rowland, who wished to care for a sick child.
I wonder how the Right wing Murdoch cheer squad for the then Opposition are feeling now that the politicians they supported at the time are now changing their tune.

Still waiting for Kubo

I have the power of overwhelmingly positive reviews (like this one) behind me in convincing the resident teenagers that they will accompany me to see Kubo and the Two Strings on Sunday.  (Actually, they've given up putting up resistance.)

Meantime, here's the video clip of the song that plays over the credits at the end (I think I read).  I like it (although comments on Youtube indicate Beatles purists may not.)

Yay for libertarians (\sarc)

Peter Thiel wants to destroy Gawker. It will be catastrophic if he does.

And I see today that he effectively has.

I become more and more convinced as the years roll on that libertarianism is the most destructive and dangerous political philosophy since the height of Soviet style communism.   Even though I didn't read Gawker with any regularity at all, I think Peter Thiel's campaign against it was petty and ridiculous.

But the main objection to it [libertarianism], of course, is the key role cashed up libertarians in the US have had in obstructionism of effective government policy on climate change in that country (and therefore, indirectly, internationally.)   Sure, I can't directly blame them for Indian and Chinese obstructionism in past years (well, I don't think I can), but the US has been prevented from unleashing the proper power of capitalism to building clean energy because of libertarian funded objection to proper policy settings.

And, of course, libertarians have been key figures in the climate change policy wars in Australia.  I see from recent media that Leyonhjelm tries to avoid sounding as nutty as Roberts on climate by saying his key objection to pricing carbon is that there is no point in doing it until other nations do.  Yet this is disingenuous weasel words - his party's platform is clearly that climate change (as a serious issue to be addressed) has not yet been proved to their satisfaction:

Should the evidence become compelling that global warming is due to
human activity, that such global warming is likely to have significantly
negative consequences for human existence, and that changes in human
activity could realistically reverse those consequences, the LDP would
favour market-based options.
So don't believe Leyonhjelm's attempts to portray himself as just being Mr Pragmatic on this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trying hard to maintain his perfect score of "0" (in the category "black Americans who will vote for me")

Donald Trump defends Milwaukee police shooting - BBC News

One would have thought that he might hold back until after video was released to the public; but this is Donald.

A common problem

In Canada's aboriginal suicide crisis, lesson on protective power of culture -

I feel I shouldn't say it, but I'm still not sure that every nation's (or perhaps, every region's) aboriginal culture has the sort of depth to it that enable it to serve this useful purpose.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A strange French habit

For French Teens, Smoking Still Has More Allure Than Stigma : Parallels : NPR

Wow, I didn't know this:
"They know we smoke at parties; they think it's a social thing," says
Louise Ferlet, age 16. "But if they knew that on our way to school we
light a cigarette, they'd get mad. I mean, my dad caught me smoking in
my room multiple times. He doesn't react because he went through the
same thing and he knows I'm going to quit one day. And I know I'm going
to quit. Just not today," she says with a laugh.

About 40 percent of French 17-year-olds smoke, according to French government
figures. That's one of the highest rates in Europe. Less than 10 percent of American teens smoke, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a bid to reverse the high rate of smoking, particularly among the
young, France has just introduced some of the world's toughest
anti-tobacco measures, including plain cigarette packs and a ban on
menthol cigarettes.
 In Australia, incidentally, around 5-6% of teenagers smoke.  France's rate is about 8 times higher!

I wonder if the tobacco lobby there will be flying Sinclair Davidson in to tut tut about plain packaging.  But it's too late.

Writing to code

BBC - Culture - The secret code to writing a bestseller


Yes, this is all a bit of a worry

Rise of the critical flops: Suicide Squad takes 360m at box office | Film | The Guardian

The article notes several other films that were big financial successes despite poor reviews.  But perhaps I save my biggest indignation for films that get both good reviews and good box office when I consider them immoral trash.

Waiting for Kubo

I had noticed recently an unusual amount of advertising for the soon to be released Laika feature Kubo and the Two Strings.   Given that it is a stop motion animation being released outside of school holidays, I thought that this perhaps indicated a high degree of studio confidence in the film, even though I didn't find the trailers all that impressive.

And, yeah, seems my guess was right:  early reviews from America are very, very strong, and I am now keen to see it. [Update: the Rottentomato score is even higher, and the one "rotten" review is from someone unknown at the Guardian, and it reads more as clickbait than a serious review.]

Once again, I will be forced to bribe at least my daughter to see it with me. My son is more easily persuaded to try new movies based on my sales pitch.

Anyway, as I love seeing behind the scenes at Laika, here's a short video showing some of the work on this film:

Trump, Roberts, etc

If you ask me, Brian Cox and the rest of the panel was too soft on Malcolm Roberts last night.  While his conspiracy thoughts about NASA got an airing, we didn't hear about Agenda 21 and the European banking families.  Still, I can't blame Cox, who is a mere visitor to our shores, for not reading up a bit more on nutty Mal.  There are better things to do with your time.

As for Trump - the little bit of his speech I have heard about seemed a bit "meh" - and no explanation as to how "extreme vetting" is supposed to stop the internet radicalisation of Muslim kids who were born in the US.   Did he suggest working more closely with Putin?  I thought that was the general drift.

Monday, August 15, 2016

This'll be interesting...

Trump to lay out plan for combating radical Islamic terrorism -

Although, truth be told, the way Trump is complaining about media bias I think the theory that he will soon "fire himself" (while trying to divert the blame to "the system") is looking more credible than ever.

What a surprise: the blog for angry white males approves of a mock complaint by an angry white male

See here.

Of course, the correct way of seeing Leyonhjelm's complaint is that it's just another example of a Senator with too much time on his hands, playing games.  

What's his "nanny State" and wind power enquiries achieved, by the way?

Monday stuff

*  Well, that's weird.   Trumpkin tragic Steve Kates from the clown rodeo at Catallaxy yesterday noted an article about the unclear size of the proton-muon combination, and how important this may turn out to be for physics, just after I had read the same day an updated article on arXiv suggesting that the discrepancy can be explained by extra dimensions, and suggesting further experiments that might help confirm it.  I assume that this type of experiment does not require high energy and particle acceleration, so it would be ironic if a "table top" experiment turned out to be key to proving the existence new physics when the LHC has not.

*  So Tony Abbott now thinks he probably shouldn't have played games with human lives by allowing the Gillard government to legislate for trying the "Malaysia solution"?   This poses a bit of a quandary - should he be at least grudgingly admired for coming around to this view, or should we feel greater vindication about his appalling hypocrisy and willingness to advance his career at any cost?    I'm leaning strongly to the latter - Abbott is like a bad advertisement for the type of Catholic who takes full advantage of its "get out of jail free" system - you can sin pretty much as much as you like provided you have enough time on your death bed to regret it and receive absolution.   Nope, sorry Tony - it was clearly a mere political game you were playing at the time, and you don't deserve sympathy.

*  The Olympics - I have my own guilty confession to make -  I'm sort of finding Rio's reputation as the most dangerous and bumbling Olympics ever held to be refreshing.   I mean, every Games there is panic about facilities not being ready on time, tickets not being sold, and whether visitors will face dangers from terrorism or whatever.  But this time, it's all coming true (well, thankfully, with visitors only being robbed and avoiding bullets, but not being killed - I wouldn't be making this comment if that had happened.)   It makes a change from the Games all going smoothly after all.   Perhaps it will work as incentive to give the games back to poor old Greece permanently, which would seem to be about the only way that country might make a long term economic recovery.  

And I would have thought most Australians would be happy enough with the performance of the swim team - I can't stand commentary about "choking" from armchair critics.

So, yeah, I am sort of perversely enjoying these games - and Rio still looks like a very pretty city.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Password problems

I am getting overwhelmed with passwords, and in particular, with the interaction between Yahoo, Google and YouTube.  I think there's less problem if you're not trying to keep a level of net anonymity, but if you are....

The end of the line for super colliders?

Physicists need to make the case for high-energy experiments : Nature News & Comment

Bee paints a pessimistic picture, too.

And here's an article (a pretty clear one, too, given the topic) about it at The Atlantic.

Message to monty (everyone else can ignore)

Can you please tell CL to stop his "I support Trump...but not really" act?  He does the same with Gateway Pundit - calls Hoft a dimwit who is only right 1 out of 20 times, yet still continually and gullibly re-posts every Clinton conspiracy theory that Hoft posts, and only occasionally covers his endorsement with "well, if this is true..."   His self created land of obfuscation is bothering me...

And - you might also note there that Snopes has looked at the wildly implausible RWDB meme that Clinton needs a doctor actually ready to inject her at any moment by her side.   You're dealing with folk not playing with a full deck, you know?

"Work with me here, Donald"..."No"

I find this hilarious - the pro-Trump Hewitt trying to help Trump de-doofus himself, and Trump refusing the invitation:

Update:  at Hot Air, of all places, they have a serious take on the stupidity of this:
This is a recurring problem for Trump, seen most recently in what he said about “Second Amendment people”: He doesn’t seem capable of imagining how the things he says will be understood beyond his own fan base. Tom Joscelyn noted this morning that “Obama founded ISIS” is also an idea pushed by Iran’s supreme leader, Khamenei. He has a different meaning of “founded” than Trump does: He wants Shiites, who loathe ISIS, to believe that the organization was deliberately created and equipped by the U.S. to persecute them. That’s not what Trump means by it, but because he insists on using a word that implies intent in describing Obama’s role, Iran can use the clip of Trump in its English-language propaganda. Trump either doesn’t grasp that or doesn’t care enough to be more precise with his criticism.
Update 2:  and then comes the argument, from Slate, that Trump knows what he's doing.  Personally, I think that's giving Trump too much credit.  I think it's more likely that he wings it in front of supporters, because he likes the roar of the crowd and is actually insecure, and then comes the retro-justification:
Hewitt then countered one last time by suggesting that he personally would use “different language” to communicate the same criticism. Trump’s response was remarkable for its awareness. “But they wouldn’t talk about your language,” he told Hewitt, “and they do talk about my language, right?”
That remark is telling, and it illustrates something that should be obvious by now but is often lost in the noise of each new controversy that comes every time Trump says something outlandish and/or obviously untrue. This was not some ad-libbed comment that went awry, a bad joke that did not land, or the candidate going “off message,” as Beltway pundits call it. In fact, he’s completely on message, and this has been the message for years, dating back to Obama’s first term, during which Trump used the birther movement to lay the foundation for his current presidential run. More than anything, Trump has built his campaign on (white) America’s fears of the other, and what better way for him to harness those than by othering the sitting president of the United States, be it by questioning his citizenship, his faith, or his loyalty.  It doesn’t matter to Trump whether his wild-eyed accusations are true; it doesn’t matter to him whether they’re offensive. All that matters to him is casting an illusion his supporters want to believe in.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ridiculous technology

While I take great pleasure in marvelling at what technological capacity there is in cheap mobile phones these days (my current phone was under $100 last Christmas), I would love to have the new Samsung Note 7, which, I see, comes with a pre-order offer of a micro SD card of 256 G capacity (at a price of $1348 at Harvey Norman.)

Carrying around 256G of storage in your smart phone (even more if you count part of the in built 64G)?  And on such a tiny card?

This is just ridiculously awesome, and young folk who are growing up with this need to understand how incredible it is.  (Hence I spend time doing this with my own kids, and encourage all adults over 40 to do the same.)

I suspect this phone is going to do well for Samsung, given the way some markets (such as India) go for the big "phablet" devices if they can only afford one computing device.  Reviews seem positive.

And, back to my under $100 Samsung phone - I have recently tried a new launcher - Smart Launcher - and I like it a lot.

Trump's still running?

The Trump campaign has been a disaster for the Trump brand - The Washington Post

Some spectacularly bad PR for Trump yesterday/today, hey?  Even being generous to the idiot that he didn't mean gun nuts could shoot her, I reckon the least you could plausibly interpret it as would be speculating about armed intimidation of a Clinton presidency over her choice of presidents (of the "open carry" type of demonstration that makes the country look like a hick third world nation.)

The article linked deals with something I had been wondering about - wouldn't all of this woeful publicity be hurting anything branded "Trump"?  I mean, if you were a Democrat who previously might have holidayed at a Trump resort, and just joked with your friends about the apparent support for an eccentric TV character that this entailed, wouldn't you now take it more seriously and definitely avoid having anything to do with his name?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Census 2016

I find it hard to understand the privacy freakout by certain folk with respect to the 2016 census.  I strongly suspect it is age related - I reckon you have to be over 45 to worry about it at all, even though I well and truly belong to that category, and don't.  I'm guessing that 95% of people under 30, most of whom have so little regard for privacy that they post about their strings of partners (temporary or longer)  on Facebook, and have probably at least once sent or received pics of their naked bits through the aether,  have no concerns at all.  

Bernard Keane has been particularly overwrought about this - and didn't he write a novel about surveillance  which featured many sex scenes?  He has some other odd obsessions, including donkeys and greyhounds.  (None of which, I trust, are involved in the novel.)   I wish he would just stick to politics.

Anyway, no I couldn't complete it on line tonight either, and I'm sure I'll get sick of hearing about this government tech failure over the next week.  

I don't know why they just didn't call it "Census Week" to make it clearer people could do it on line over (say) 7 to 14 days.  Seems an obvious way to avoid the rush of "census night", no?

Laffered out of a job

Conservative Lawmakers Ousted in Kansas Primary Election - WSJ

Even the Wall Street Journal notes the failure of the Laffer inspired Kansas experiment in large tax cuts.

Good to see some politicians paying for it.

Warming lakes not so good for them

Decline of fishing in Lake Tanganyika 'due to warming' - BBC News

Steel story

The (largely false) globalization narrative - The Washington Post

I was surprised by this explanation of what happened to the American steel manufacturing industry.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Lol indeed

I was just on Youtube looking at the video of the old Safety Dance song (for no particular reason other than it's catchy - I've embedded it before.)  Thought I would look at the recent comments, and found this:

This song attracts the funniest comments...


For what it's worth:  I quite liked the Rio opening ceremony.   It was, apparently, a much cheaper production than recent Olympic openings, but was actually better for it - it reminded me of the scale of the Sydney opening, which was also great but with less mechanical contraptions than seem to have turned up at later openings.   It again showed how much can be done with the clever projectors they use at all these events now.  (I particularly liked how the early airplane I had never heard of before seemed to be designed backwards.)

And yes, it was appropriately sexy in a Brazilian way.


*  Wasn't Insiders interesting yesterday, with new Senator Malcolm Roberts sealing the deal as having outpaced Leyonhjelm as the biggest nutjob in the Senate, by far.   Apparently, only 5 years ago he let some "very strong researcher" from Queensland convince him that the "sovereign citizen" movement was the way to go to try to argue against a carbon tax.  (I hadn't even heard of this bunch of nutters until Malcolm came along.)   He seems to have changed on this in more ways than one - originally trying to claim he had no knowledge of the movement, now saying it was "a mistake".

The guys looks nutty; he definitely sounds nutty; and he committed his nuttiness to paper - I think based on his "empirical evidence" insistence, I can declare the evidence is in:  he was and is a nut; and a slippery dishonest (even by normal political standards) one at that.

*  Also on Insiders, Gerard Henderson* was claiming that One Nation was a long term problem for the Coalition, as having 4 Senators and staff meant they could consolidate their credibility before the next election.

Yeah, sure, Gerard.   The track record of parties based around one personality is obviously dire - especially when they are run by self interested populists like Palmer or Hanson.  (Hanson does well out of elections whether she wins or not.).    At least people like Xenophon or Don Chipp - smart guys running for a neglected centre of politics - might establish parties that run some distance, but even then the Democrats show they won't be around forever.

Gerard's gone downhill as a political commentator; time to retire, I suggest.

*   Is Trump still the GOP candidate?    The longer this campaign runs, the more it shows that the power of positive thinking may take a BS artist who starts with a family fortune quite a long way, but it does absolutlelynothing to encourage insight.

The thing is, the more he derides Hillary's mental state, the more the electorate will see it as projection.  But he obviously doesn't see that risk.

Update:  *  even after just having watched the nut filled interview performance of Roberts.  But Henderson has always given undue credence to climate change denialism - he gave Salby a venue at which to claim he had discovered the end of AGW.   Where's Salby now?   Completely discredited, where ever he is.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Friday, August 05, 2016

Quantum papers

Yay, two papers of interest have turned up on arXiv in the quantum section.

First, one talking about the transactional interpretation of quantum physics, which I've mentioned here before, and been wondering whether it's going anywhere.  I haven't done much other than scan the paper (it's a heavy read, and I'll be skipping the maths), but it's worth looking at more carefully, I think.

Secondly, here's one talking about the enduring puzzle of the double slit experiment with the enticing title Can a Single Photon Modify Two Remote Realities Simultaneously?   Here's the abstract:
The concept of wave-particle duality, which is a key element of quantum theory, has been remarkably found to manifest itself in several experimental realizations as in the famous double-slit experiment. In this speci?c case, a single particle seems to travel through two separated slits simultaneously. Nevertheless, it is never possible to measure it in both slits, which naturally appears as a manifestation of the collapse postulate. In this respect, one could as well ask if it is possible to "perceive" the presence of the particle at the two slits simultaneously, once its collapse could be avoided. In this article, we use the recently proposed entanglement mediation protocol to provide a positive answer to this question. It is shown that a photon which behaves like a wave, i.e., which seems to be present in two distant locations at the same time, can modify two existing physical realities in these locations. Calculations of the \weak trace" left by such photon also enforce the validity of the present argumentation.

Death by (lack of) fashion

Neanderthals' failure to make parkas may have sealed their demise: A quartet of researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada has found evidence that suggests that the reason early humans were able to survive the ice age while the Neanderthal perished is because humans figured out how to make parka-like clothing to keep warm and Neanderthals did not....

The researchers also note that other evidence of humans crafting warm
clothes has been found as well, such as bone needles for sewing and
other tools that could be used to scrape pelts. Also, a set of figurines
wearing parka-like coats and dating back approximately 24,000 years was
found in Siberia. No such of Neanderthals wearing crafted clothes has ever been found.

As to why the Neanderthals would not have crafted clothes to survive
the cold, the researchers suggest they may have lacked the intelligence
or simply because their cultural traditions were standing in the way.
 I can imagine some Neanderthal bloke pointing at some newly kitted out non-Neanderthal guy and saying "ha!  look at the girly man in his new 'parka.'  Clothes are for wusses."

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Derangement noted

From the Economist,  a report on a campaign stop on 1 August:
The presidential race: Donald Trump’s disastrous fortnight | The Economist:
The speech that followed was even more rambling than usual, and peppered with personal gripes; the boasts were fewer, his haranguing of the media (“some of the most dishonest people”) went on for longer.

At times, Mr Trump sounded deranged. Some of the negotiators he says he will commission to improve America’s trade terms “are horrible, horrible human beings”, he said. “Some of them don’t sleep at night, some of them turn and toss and sweat, they’re turning and tossing and sweating and it’s disgusting, and these are the people we want to negotiate for us, right?” Whose experience, actually, was he describing? With three months to the election, it is early days, and the contest looks close; yet Mr Trump’s campaign is a mess. In Mechanicsburg it was tempting to think he really had seen the writing on the wall.


Well, what a pain that Senator Blofeld Leyonhjelm got re-elected.  I see his total vote in New South Wales was 3%, but his position on the ballot paper was pretty good again, and I also thought the big fault under the new system is the tiny size of the party logos at the top of their columns.    I strongly suspect that this factor, and the parties use of  the word "liberal," again benefited him, and I expect if he was way to the right of Liberal column, you could shave off at least a third of his votes. 

But as a big a nut he is on guns and other matters, he will certainly be out-nutted in the Senate by the Queensland no.2 Senator for Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts.   An ageing engineer (a professional which produces some of the most obnoxious examples of Dunning-Kruger), he's the climate change denier whose mutterings about international banking family conspiracies made even Andrew Bolt distance himself from his group.   I see from the link that he's also (naturally) an Agenda 21 conspiracist completely opposed to any support of renewables (even though, as Abbott found out, quite a lot of people who might be dumb enough to vote for Hanson actually quite like their solar panels on the roof).   I bet he's a goldbug, too.  And, I wouldn't be surprised if he loves his guns as much as Leyonhjelm.

So, it's going to be interesting, and worrying, to watch what crap he will come out during Senate speeches.

Unsettled weather

Just saying, but the weather in Brisbane in the last couple of weeks has been all over the shop, in a way that I think's quite unusual for this time of year.  We've had a late winter burst of quite cold mornings after some very clear nights, but then it seems out of the blue will come cloud, wind and rain.  Last night it was from an east coast low, which I don't think are very common at all in early August.  Now its sunny and warm again, although maximums are still relatively modest. (Whoops - spoke too soon, it's gone cloudy and breezy again.)

I have been noticing in other recent years that Augusts have not been very cold at night at all - I pay attention to these things because of insisting on sitting and staying at the Ekka for fireworks.  But this year - unless this messy weather all clears up - I am thinking it is going to feel colder there at night, like it used to sometimes be when I went as a child.

Is it all part of global warming causing a more turbulent and changeable mixing of the atmosphere?

Support warranted

Guardian Australia has made a difference – with your help, it can do more | Media | The Guardian

I see that The Guardian Australia is asking for subscribers (or donors, if you will) and suggesting $10 a month or $100 a year.

I think this would be well deserved support for a great paper and website.  (I already subscribe to the SMH too.)  

Get our your credit cards.

The drop out option

Would Donald Trump really consider dropping out?

A good consideration here of what would happen if Trump dropped out, and why he probably won't.   (Although I still suspect he might if enough Republicans continue to repudiate him.)

Update:  and here's Vox on what the party can do to try to get him out of the race.  (They can't force him.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

My suggestion for the next James Bond

He's dark haired; darker skinned (for a bit of character variety); good with gadgets; knows his way around Europe; and the ladies love him.   [OK, so 4 out of 5 is not bad.] :)

Anyway, he would make an excellent Q, at the very least.

An amusing comment about Friedman

Noahpinion: How are Milton Friedman's ideas holding up? Part 1: For some reason, Friedman is treated a bit like a secular saint in policy discussions. If you criticize "Idea X", fine. We can have an argument. But if you criticize "Milton Friedman's Idea X", then WHO ARE YOU, LOWLY WORM, to criticize the great FRIEDMAN?? If you say government is a lot more useful and important than Reagan and Thatcher and Art Laffer and Friedrich Hayek and Ed Prescott and Greg Mankiw think, well, fine, that's your opinion. But if you say government is a lot more useful and important than Milton Friedman thought, then you're wrong wrong wrong and don't you know that Friedman proved government was bad in the 70s?? Etc.

OK, I might be exaggerating as an excuse to use lots of capital letters and italics, but Friedman is such a towering intellectual that criticizing him does feel a bit like tipping a sacred cow. Fortunately I'm from Texas, where cow-tipping is a way of life.

Interesting technology for the drinker

Flexible wearable electronic skin patch offers new way to monitor alcohol levels -- ScienceDaily

Any suggestions?

Ridiculing Trump has become a bit like shooting a fish in a barrel for everyone, so I'm getting a bit bored with that.   Seems to me the only thing providing any real tension in the Presidential election is what's in emails that Julian Assange is determined to try to take down Clinton with, and when they'll be released.  I can't dismiss the possibility that there might be real problems for her in this - but Assange is going to be winning no friends on the Left by playing games with the timing of release, and he has no friends already on the Right.   He's stuffed either way, then.  

I wonder, though, whether Trump might do something really unprecedented - such as pulling the pin himself on his run if enough Republican figures say they can't endorse him.  His musing about a possible rigged election seems potentially on the path to something like that, and he obviously is worried about how he'll cope with one on one debates with Clinton.   Let's see...

I haven't even been posting much science lately - I think most scientists must be enjoying the NH summer holidays, because I don't think that much of interest has been in the media recently. 

Oh - here's something:   Brian Cox's new series from the BBC started last night - Forces of Nature - and as with his previous similar shows, it's beautiful to look at, and I find it rather endearing watching a man who seems continually blissed out about science and nature.  Could be a bit better edited - there seemed to be a little bit of unnecessary repetition in last night's episode - but overall, it's highly recommended.

Apart from that, I feel like calling for suggestions as to what I might find interesting on the 'net at the moment...

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

When any publicity is not good publicity

Some would say this is hardly surprising, given the source, but I am still amused to see this group of headlines re Trump on the Washington Post website today:

A very odd thing to say

Gee, for a man who has a long association with the IPA, with its transgender staffer Mikayla Novak and its past high profile gay spokes-ego Tim Wilson, Sinclair Davidson sure likes to buy into moral panic about high school students and sexuality.  And he has done so today in a truly spectacularly oddball way. 

This is the post in question, about a scholarship body that has started asking teenage applicants if they identify a gay/transgender etc, apparently with the intention of specifically offering money to some in that category.  SD notes, however, that the applicants will often be below the age of consent, which leads to his ending his post with this:

"...perhaps this is a matter for the police and not reporters from The Australian."

Now look, I have long, long argued in this blog that sexuality of school students is something best dealt with at school as a matter of emphasising privacy and respect for all (and therefore don't particularly care for teenagers in high school who go out of their way to be "out"), and I would agree that gay identity politics influencing sex education may have gone so far as to advertently or inadvertently put inappropriate pressure on students to categorise themselves in ways they should not need to.   So do I think it makes much sense in principle to be offering scholarships based on sexuality?  Of course not.

But do I think that they're aren't some teenagers who have a pretty good understanding of their sexuality as not being heterosexual?  Of course not.

Everyone who has read anything by, or talked to, gay adults knows that a great many do feel sure fairly soon into puberty that their sexuality is at least different, and (even before the modern Western openness to discussing homosexuality) recognized it as homosexuality, or at least bisexuality.  And in most cases, this is prior to any actual sexual experience at all.  

Therefore, it is obvious that asking a 15 or 16 year old if he or she identifies as gay, etc, (and leaving it open for them to decline to answer) carries no necessary implication about whether they are or have ever been sexually active, or will be before it becomes "legal" by virtue of their age.   So in what implausible way does SD think asking this question on a piece of paper could induce an underage teenager to have gay sex?  A scholarship possibility means they'll just go and try out the gay stuff to make sure they can honestly answer the question?    Yeah, sure.   Is it meant to be just be like how detailed sex education encourages straight students to have sex early (when in fact, if anything, it probably has the opposite effect)?   

Even when asked to clarify in comments what he could possibly mean about police looking into this, the Professor does not retract at all, and seems to make his concern sound even more like extreme conservative, moral panic, ridiculousness.   People who work in a body offering scholarships to a gay identifying 15 or 16 year old are "grooming"??  The police should look into this instead of pursuing George Pell??   In fact,  we all know the police would be rolling their eyes and writing "just plain nuts" in their notebooks. 

It's remarkable how SD can take a matter on which moderate conservatives might agree (do we really need scholarships based on sexuality?) and take the argument to such an unjustified extreme that makes it immediately dismiss-able not just by Lefties, but by any sensible social conservative too.  

Trump-ism of the day

Trump says he hopes Ivanka would quit if she got harassed: Kirsten Powers

Apparently, from a telephone interview with Trump:
What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?

His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said.

But most women don’t have the financial resources of Ivanka. They can’t afford to quit their job without another in hand, something that is impossible to do when you are under contract and forbidden to speak to competitors. Most importantly, why should a woman be expected to upend her career just because she ended up in the crosshairs of some harasser?

Hand cleaning considered

Health Check: should we be using alcohol-based hand sanitisers?

Here's something I didn't know about alcohol based hand cleaners:

In a hospital setting, health-care workers use medicated soap and water
wash or alcohol-based hand rub to remove germs and kill pathogens.
Alcohol-based hand rub has the added bonus of providing an additional 20
minutes of residual action on the surface of the health workers’ hands
to keep pathogens from multiplying to a level that can cause infection
in vulnerable patients.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Milling about in the dark

Tokyo’s surreal and shadowy world of Pokemon Go after dark - The Washington Post

The photos aren't that special really; but yes, I can just imagine how incredibly popular this game will be there.

The Apollo astronaut I saw

Mike Collins Talks About Mars, and How to Handle Apollo Hoaxers | Daily Planet | Air & Space Magazine

I have mentioned here before, but I saw Michael Collins in the late 1970's in the bookshop of the Air & Space Museum, when he ran the place. (I thought it was the 1980's, but I was also there in either '78 or '79, and he was the director up to 1978, apparently.)

He's 85 now, and recently gave an interview (linked above) which has a few funny parts, including this:
Is there anything particular that provokes memories of the Apollo days?

Well, the moon kind of surprises me sometimes. I’ll be out at night and I’ll see a nice moon, and say, “Hey, that looks good.” Then I’ll say, “Oh shit, I went up there one time!” Kind of  surprises me. It’s like there are two Moons, you know—the one that’s usually around, and then that one.