Thursday, December 03, 2020

Dubious about lab grown chicken

The Guardian has a headline:

No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time 

but when you read the details, it sounds more like PR spin than anything else:

The cells for Eat Just’s product are grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor and then combined with plant-based ingredients. Initial availability would be limited, the company said, and the bites would be sold in a restaurant in Singapore. The product would be significantly more expensive than conventional chicken until production was scaled up, but Eat Just said it would ultimately be cheaper.

The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants.

The growth medium for the Singapore production line includes foetal bovine serum, which is extracted from foetal blood, but this is largely removed before consumption. A plant-based serum would be used in the next production line, the company said, but was not available when the Singapore approval process began two years ago.

What I would like to know is:

*  how many chicken cells per piece?

*  how much could they be contributing to the taste?  [Perhaps need a blind test between a bit of their chicken made with plant filler alone, compared to a piece with the chicken cells thrown in.]

*  sounds like they certainly can't be contributing to texture. 

* is using "plant medium" to grow cells really been proved as viable?

I remain deeply skeptical about the benefits (both for the individual consumer and on the bigger question of whether it will ever reduce the number of animals raised and eaten) of this whole idea.  

I would like science journalists to show more skepticism on the matter - they seem too ready to just repeat PR releases.

Amongst the reasons to avoid it

Case studies and autopsy results are confirming that, in some cases, COVID-19 can cause such severe lung damage that patients require a lung transplant to survive.  ....

"We provide explicit evidence that COVID-19 can cause permanent damage to the lung in some patients for whom lung transplantation is the only hope for survival," said study principal investigator Dr. Ankit Bharat. He's chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program, in Chicago.

His team also discovered unique cells—called KRT17 —in the lung tissue of COVID-19 patients with irreversible damage. These cells have also been found in patients with end-stage , a deadly progressive lung disease.

The findings, the first of their kind on the issue, were published Nov. 30 in Science Translational Medicine. To date, eight COVID-19 patients have received double-lung transplants at Northwestern Medicine, the most performed at any health system in the world.

Pretty extraordinary (and not widely publicised, it seems.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Not sure what this means for Umbrella Academy

So, mopey faced Ellen Page is now Elliot Page - and the BBC wastes no time in endorsing her transgender proclamation:

Elliot Page: Juno star announces he is transgender

As I have complained before, I already found her kind of annoyingly serious, and I would guess she very specifically wanted the second season of Umbrella Academy to give her character a lesbian awakening storyline.  (It was, in any event, pretty well handled; and the whole season was extremely enjoyable.) 

Apart from a suspicion that this will cause a further spike in unhappy teenage girls deciding their depression can be cured by deciding they are really men, my only other interest in the matter is what it means for the third season of Umbrella Academy.

Can the producers just replace her with a more likeable actress?   Please.


Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Yeah... Real suspicious

This man likes to give mini history lessons in many of his posts: 

Where's the rah rah Brexit support now?

By the way, there are tweets following that last one that say "only 8% lead for remain after all of this?"; and people responding with "wait until the effects actually start to be felt in the hip pocket, and in general inconvenience, next year." 

I have noticed, for a long time now actually, that there is a distinct lack of pro-Brexit content on the internet from the libertarian/conservative people who never said all that much about it, but were pro-Brexit because they could just feel it in their bones, or something, that "less rules the better". 

Look at Helen Dale, for example.  She promotes herself as some sort of reasonable, "classical liberal" Tory who supports Brexit yet seem to virtually never discuss it in detail in her Twitter feed.  Maybe she has written a column or two criticising the way it has been handled politically, but it seems low on her priority of interests, even though she lives there.

And calling Jason Soon:  where do you stand on this now?   You've had a pretty crook year as far as disillusionment with commentators who you formerly gave some credence to when they have gone completely stupidly pig headed on COVID 19.   (Hello, Adam "I never liked my gran anyway" Creighton - but I think there must be others.)   As far as I can recall, you indicated soft support for Brexit, like Dale, and thought Johnson would make a great PM.   Isn't it time to admit error, or do we have to wait to see economic and social costs over the next few years before you'll admit your support never had more than a mere intuitive basis?

Update:   also, not that I watch it, apart from the odd clip that turns up on Youtube, but I don't think even the clown wingnuts on Australia's Sky News at Night spend time trying to defend Brexit.   Lack of material to work with, I suspect.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Going To the Lake

I started watching the Russian Netflix series To the Lake, and I thought the first episode was really good.   Looks like a lot of money spent on it, with some flashy camera moves and fancy shots showing  directorial flair which I didn't really expect from a series from that part of the world.   

A few other observations:

*  angry Russian language sounds really angry.   I guess angry German does too.   Is there just something about the tone of certain languages which make them sound scarier than others when the speaker is upset?

* interesting to see wealthy characters in a Russian story, and the wealthiest played as dislikeable.  (Maybe there is a redemption arc coming up though?)  The show seems to pull no punches about corruption, crime and how quickly the place would fall apart if under disaster pressure a tad higher than that presented by COVID-19.   I doubt that Putin likes it.

* why is Googling bringing so few American reviews for it?  It has been released there, but I can't spot mainstream media outlets reviews at all.   That's odd, isn't it?

Historical pigs of London

This story came to my attention by being mentioned in a Youtube video.  I had not heard of it before.  Here is the Wiki version, from an entry about the medieval St Anthony's Hospital in London:

One source of income, traditional to certain religious foundations dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great of Egypt, was from donated free-range pigs: any pig considered by the supervisor of the London Livestock market unfit to be killed for food was reserved for the use of the Hospital as follows: a proctor of St. Anthony's placed a collar around its neck from which hung a bell. It was then released onto the City streets to scavenge, protected by the status afforded by its bell, from molestation by the population.[2] it was a virtuous deed to feed these pigs, which quickly fattened and when ready for the table were reclaimed by the Hospital and sold or slaughtered for food.[3] The privilege appears on occasion to have been abused, as in 1311 one of the Hospital's tenants Roger de Wynchester, was forced to promise the City authorities not to claim pigs found wandering about the City, nor to put bells on "any swine but those given in charity to the house".[4]

Incredible bad faith

The news is already old - these losing pro-Trump cases really are being thrown out quickly now - but I just wanted to note the incredible bad faith of (some) Pennsylvania Republicans who voted for mail in ballots a year ago, conducted a primary using them, but when Trump loses in the final election, decide to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation they voted in!

This was all explained in a post by Ed Morrisey at Hot Air - which remains in my opinion the only conservative politics website worth anything.   

Here he is with an update when the PA Supreme Court threw it out. 

It just shows incredible bad faith that any Pennsylvania Republican should have tried this on. 


A post about something I found mildly amusing.   

We went to IKEA on Sunday and decided to have lunch there.   None of my family are fans of the IKEA meatball, but I saw they had a new vegetarian or vegan choice - Plant Balls.   What a name, hey?

Apparently, they always used to have "veggie balls", but this new one is part of the movement to make a plant product that resembles the meat product.   They are cheap so I had ten, with mash potato, peas, gravy and that jam that perhaps only exists due to  IKEA shops.  

I thought they weren't bad, but reminded me a little of poultry stuffing rather than meat.   (Perhaps that's unfair - I would not consider a meal of stuffing, but I would eat these again.)  The IKEA website explains:

The plant ball is proof that a less meaty future can be just as delicious, whether you’re a meat-lover or not. Made with pea protein, potatoes, onion, oats and apple, it has the taste and juicy bite of the IKEA meatball – minus the meat. Instead, the perfect meaty taste is achieved by adding umami flavours, like mushroom, tomato and roasted vegetables.

They don't have much trouble replicating the IKEA meatball in texture - one reason I don't care for them being the lack of texture, like they are made from the leftover residue of a mincing machine rather than the mince itself.  That said, they do sell an extraordinary amount:

“At IKEA, we sell 1 billion meatballs a year. Imagine if we can convert even some of those into plant balls. That’s a real tangible reduction in our climate footprint.”

But still - that name.   I don't think they put much effort into it.   I reckon they should have a competition to rename them.  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Am I right? [I am right]

Every single bit of alleged evidence of the Trump election being "rigged" comes down to someone with no direct and detailed knowledge of specific vote counting and tallying processes either seeing something*, or doing some maths, and saying "that looked real suspicious to me."  That's it.  That's where it ends.

I cannot believe how dumb and gullible so many on the Right are - as I have said many times, it's like they are not only willing dupes to any shonky, bad faith, self proclaimed expert (as they have been for a decade or so with climate change), but they have virtually self gaslight themselves into an alternative reality.

Update:  in the weird world of Australian Right wing-nuttery, curated by Sinclair Davidson because, it would seem, he likes people to be able to display themselves as ageing, gullible, conservative cranks and fools (often with unpleasant personalities to boot), we get examples like this:

 As so many are observing - Rupert spent a decade or two, for his profit, pandering to a conspiracy consuming, culture warring, gullible and ageing conservative audience that is now distraught that he is trying to edge them back to an even slightly more evidence based view of the world.   It would be sort of funny to watch, if it weren't a worry for democracy and the future of the US.

Update:   Trump and his cultists are adamant that the Biden vote (at more than 80 million) is just too incredible to believe.   Looking at this graph, putting it in historic perspective, there's nothing shocking about it at all.   

*  or, not seeing something, then inferring that fraud was being committed - like complaining they were kept 10 feet from a electorate office worker's table and thinking the reason was that they wanted to commit fraud. 

Getting creeped out now

OK, so because I watched the BTS song Dynamite, and perhaps because I actually like watching the Feel the Rhythm of Korea tourism ads (they really do make it look like a cool and nice place to visit), Youtube got me to watch the new BTS song Life Goes On last night.   They're a cultural phenomena, OK.  Do I have to keep justifying myself?

Man, the androgynous (and quasi Japanese "boys love" anime - made for girls, mind you) styling and vibe of the group is starting to creep me out.  It's giving me a sad and uncanny Michael Jackson "they don't know what they want to look like" feeling - and in fact the guy driving the car in close up in this clip specifically reminded me of Jackson for some reason.   I also thought at one point that it was going to have a boys in pyjamas having a pillow fight sequence - but it didn't quite go there.  One of them does something very peculiar to a bicycle seat, though.   I just thought the whole clip was sort of off.

As I have said before - it's not like deliberate androgyny in pop music is anything new (and for all I know, maybe one or more of them is gay) - but whoever is control of their image is making this band look like pale, plastic skinned robots with with artificially perfect hair.  It's just too much...

It's stuff like this that makes me doubt the whole "Trump will own the Republican party for years" thing

I keep saying - I reckon most prominent Republicans who defend Trump have only done so for purely opportunistic reasons.  They know he's a jerk who has no real friends (political or everyday) and that he dumps on anyone who crosses him in a heartbeat.   People like Raffensperger will not appreciate having to worry about a Trump cultist stalking him with a gun for doing his job.

So his idiot base may be loyal to him for a year or two after he's gone, but the "establishment" Republicans are going to dump on him as soon as he is out of the White House.

Again - I could be completely wrong.   But it just seems the most plausible take to me.

Revenge of the wasps (and in Brisbane, too!)

I would guess that aircraft are responsible for splatting at least a few thousand wasps a year, so is it any surprise that wasps are trying to take them down?

Interesting story at

Over a period of 39 months, invasive keyhole wasps (Pachodynerus nasidens) at the Brisbane Airport were responsible for 93 instances of fully blocked replica pitot probes—vital instruments that measure airspeed—according to a study published November 25 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alan House of Eco Logical Australia and colleagues. As noted by the authors, the results underscore the importance of risk-mitigating strategies, such as covering pitot probes when aircraft arrive and setting up additional traps to intercept the wasps....

A total of 26 wasp-related issues were reported at the between November 2013 and April 2019, in conjunction with a series of serious safety incidents involving pitot probes. In its native range in South and Central America and the Caribbean, the wasp is known to construct nests using man-made cavities, such as window crevices, electrical sockets, and of course, keyholes.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Things I'm not reading about: a Republican split?

Maybe the columns about this are yet to come, but I am surprised at how few words are being written on the risk that Trump will cause a serious, quite long term, split in the Right between his dumb, conspiracy addled "base" who are leaving Fox News and going into the even more intensely partisan propaganda echo chambers of OAN and Parler, and those "establishment" Republican politicians and their supporters who have always known Trump is a useful idiot but have not been able to say so for 4 years.  

Because, it seems to me, the only way those on the "establishment" side can hope to win back the cultists is if they start spilling the beans on how hopeless they found Trump to deal with after his departure.   But given the nature of cultist logic, that runs the risk of intensifying their belief in the Deep State and the righteous cause of their glorious leader who always warned them that Washington was corrupt.  

Look, I could be completely wrong and somehow the fine line that the likes of Carlson and Fox News is trying to tread will work.   But it seems a real problem, way outweighing the intensity of the internecine arguments within the Democrats.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Fox way forward discussed

At the Washington Post, a detailed look at how Tucker Carlson hopes to manage accepting a Biden presidency without losing the wingnut base that would prefer to be shooting people on the street.  (If you use Twitter, you should really look at that @parlertake account to see how much violence is being hoped for amongst wingnuts.  I wonder if the FBI now has staff dedicated to examining that site/app.)

I liked this take down of the complete and utter crap Carlson claimed yesterday:

Carlson then gets to the third part of his post-election playbook.

“We shouldn't let our focus on voting machines distract us from all that happened earlier this month. The 2020 presidential election was not fair. No honest person would claim that it was fair,” Carlson insisted. “On many levels the system was rigged against one candidate and in favor of another, and it was rigged in ways that were not hidden from view. We all saw it happen.”

How? Well, for one thing, Carlson says that the media allowed Biden to “refuse to explain what they would do if they were elected.”

This, as The Post’s Dave Weigel has pointed out, is ridiculous. Perhaps there wasn’t coverage of Biden’s agenda on Fox News, but it’s impossible to argue that he didn’t offer detailed proposals of what his presidency would entail. Those proposals often struggled to be heard over the volume of Trump’s chatter, but they existed.

The candidate who explicitly had no post-election proposals was Trump. There was no section on his website outlining any plans, just a delineation of his self-described accomplishments. The Republican Party broadly acknowledged that there was no use in developing a platform, reverting to a broad “whatever Trump wants” explanation.

The other part in this column I liked was the short and simple summary of the nonsense position of Republicans that investigating this election as being entirely legitimate and essential, while the "Russiagate" investigation was a fraud from the start:

To this day, Trump remains frustrated that his 2016 election was overshadowed by questions about Russia's efforts to interfere in the results and various investigations into people associated with his campaign. As he's pushed to hold off Biden's win, many of his allies have argued that muddying the waters after Election Day is fair play given the investigations Trump himself had to endure.

There are important differences, of course. One is that the investigations into Russian interference began well before the 2016 election concluded and focused on several individuals with demonstrated ties to Russia. Had Trump simply embraced the probe of interference broadly as a way to protect the vote, it wouldn’t have become the pall that it did. But, again, Trump was eager to present himself as a winner, and the idea that Russia might have influenced the outcome was therefore anathema.

The other distinction between the 2016 election probe and the one Carlson suggests is that in that case there was good reason to suspect malfeasance on the part of people associated with Trump’s campaign. One adviser traveled to Moscow in July 2016. Another was told that Russia had obtained emails that were apparently the ones eventually leaked by WikiLeaks. Another — Trump’s campaign chairman — had worked directly for pro-Russian interests and, it turns out, shared campaign data with an individual linked to Russian intelligence.

By contrast, there isn’t any evidence that anything untoward happened with electronic voting in 2020. There are plenty of allegations, certainly, though even Carlson had to admit last week that Trump’s campaign couldn’t present evidence to support those allegations. As with most elections, there were certainly errors and flaws that deserve to be probed to prevent them from happening again in the future. Perhaps those investigations will turn something up. But what Carlson proposes is obviously a fishing expedition, something that may bear political fruit but should be understood in that context.

Basically, whenever you read a person mock "Wussia, wussia, wussia" or the Mueller investigation, you know that they have dumbed themselves down with partisanship to the point they are not worth arguing with. 


Big dish closes permanently

Nothing much to say about this, except that it was hardly looking well maintained anyway.  It was a cool looking facility in its day, but they should never have let its use make Goldeneye the travesty of science that it was!

Legendary Arecibo telescope will close forever — scientists are reeling


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Re-endorsing this way of eating prawns

It was earlier this year that I endorsed this:

I used it again this last weekend, and it's just so easy and so nice - if you have a family that doesn't mind peeling their own hot prawns (or eating a lot of the shell.)  

For $15 I bought 700g of whole green banana prawns (I prefer tiger, but they are not always available green in the supermarket), and in a big wok fried (in a few tablespoons of oil) some capsicum, spring onion and left over bok choy; take it out, then throw in the prawns.  Let them cook about 75% of the way through (that's the instructions on the spice pack!), and sprinkle on the spices.  Keep cooking, and add back the vegetables, and you're done.   Throw on top of a big serving plate of rice.

It couldn't be easier, because you don't peel the prawns. 

If the prawn is not super large, I eat quite a bit of shell now too.  Frying lets you do that.

I also re-invite the Seahs company to reward me for the endorsement.   Ha.  Maybe just a return ticket to Singapore to visit their factory would be enough!

Speaking of Parler

I just found out that there is a Twitter account devoted to showing us screenshots of "takes" to be found on Parler.  @parlertakes. 


The Parler folk are in a current meltdown about transition starting.   Lots of calls for war and violence.  

Which is consistent with what I said a couple of posts back - let them go into "non-censored" self exile:  it will hurt the credibility of anyone who wants to hang out with the dangerous, conspiracy addled nutters that will flock there.

As expected

Oddball conservative Gray Connolly on the Trump transition:

This was predicted:

It's over

So Trump has authorised the transition to begin.  For God's sake, he may as well let someone read the briefings, since it's clear he was just too busy playing golf and insisting his people had to come up with some face saving strategy to show he won when no court in the land will agree.

I can just imagine the whoops of joy in any agency with a briefing obligation to this doofus.   Can you imagine the challenge of being given a 20 page report full of summaries of complex international political situations, and having to work out every day how to compress it down to a single page with stick figures so that it will keep his attention?  It would be exasperating.

Meanwhile, Right wing media figures have to plot their future now.  Mark Levin, one of the more obnoxious and faux smart commentators is threatening to leave Facebook and just live on Parler.   Good - I tend to think that self exile into poorly run echo chambers will only hurt their long term credibility.  Like Catallaxy, any outsider looking in will just see how they dumb themselves down by the mutual support of ignorance and ideologically motivated incredulity as to facts and real expertise.  

Fox News will be most interesting - but I think they will just pretend they never really believed the conspiracy theories about the election that they promoted, start distancing themselves from Trump, and try to be the "respectable" face of the Right - you know, where huge deficits of Republican doing become the nations most urgent crisis, climate change is denied as a socialist plot, and other such continual hypocritical rubbish.   But will that work for the likes of Lou Dobbs and Judge Box of Whine?  Ideally, they abandon ship to OAN and encourage a permanent split on the Republican side between Always Trumpers and the rest.   Which, I think, would cause many  GOP politicians to start to spill the beans over how impossible they found it to engage meaningfully with Trump, and a raft of embarrassing stories will emerge.  Which Always Trumpers will never believe, despite the source.

If he were not such a complete embarrassment to himself, I would also be interested in what Scott Adams has to say about this outcome.  I will check later.

I would also say that if not now, by at least in January, it's the end of QAnon.   It would be most delightful if the creator of it is exposed as a 22 year old nerd who lives with his parents and thought it was a huge joke to test how gullible how many Americans can be.   But even if he (or she) is never exposed, surely the pretence of 9 D chess still being played by an out-of-office Trump to vanquish the Deep State simply can't survive a competent Biden presidency.   I think the creator of it will just let it fade away. 

That's my current guess, anyway...

Fargo runs out of steam

I have watched the first two episodes of Season 4 of Fargo, and by mid-way through the second one, I told my son it just didn't seem very good.   

I hadn't even read any reviews of it before then, but now that I check Metacritic, there are a lot of 50% or less reviews from the biggest papers saying things like "it's not terrible, but it feels disappointing and stale compared to previous seasons".

So, I feel justified.

As it happens, I still have never watched Season 1, which I think a lot of people liked.  I loved Season 2 though, but did feel Season 3 started to press the credibility too far.     

Yes, count me surprised too

I don't know why Noah tweeted about this at the moment, but some suggestions as to why it is true follows: 

Monday, November 23, 2020

In more disturbing cute furry animal news

The New York Times notes that the COVID 19 mink cull in Denmark is causing real political problems:

The slaughter of minks in Denmark to prevent the spread of a potentially dangerous new strain of the coronavirus has prompted a political crisis in the country, with the minister of agriculture forced to step down and the government in danger of collapse.

The cull has led to a political crisis in Denmark, with right-wing parties accusing the government of using the pandemic to try to end mink farming in the country. Denmark is home to some of the world’s largest mink farms, with an estimated population of more than 15 million.

The opposition is calling for Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to resign after a hurried decision to cull the animals after a mutated strain of the virus was found to have made the leap from the animals to humans....

When Ms. Frederiksen ordered the killing of all the animals in Denmark two weeks ago, the military had to step in to assist the country’s approximately 1,100 mink farmers in the slaughter.

Mogens Jensen, the minister of agriculture, condemned the rapid action taken by the government, saying it had no legal basis to kill the animals and destroy the industry.

On Thursday, a Danish newspaper, B.T., reported that Mr. Jensen and five other ministers had warned in September that culling beyond the infected areas was illegal.

The slaughter was halted midway through the effort and the focus shifted to culling minks only in the vicinity of the outbreak tied to the mutated strain of the virus.

But Mr. Jensen had already lost the support of the government and was forced to step down.

The culling of the minks has been met by a broad public backlash, with a study by Aarhus University finding support for the government falling by 20 percent.

 It's a little hard to understand whether the public political backlash is inspired by a Right wing-ish "how dare you try to kill our beloved fur industry", or a more Left wing "how dare you kill those cute animals unnecessarily."   

I mean - how much public awareness is there in Denmark of what mink farms look like?  Because, frankly, to this outsider, the permanently cage bound conditions of these animals doesn't make the practice look at all humane. 

Unsurprisingly, anti fur activists see this as an opportunity to close down the industry permanently.  And if it does, it will mean that this video effort to paint Danish mink farming in as positive a light as possible was all for nothing.   As a PR effort, it transparently is a case of "tries too hard".

The industry was probably on the way out anyway:

Wearing fur remains relatively acceptable in Denmark—enough so that hip young designers like Astrid Andersen and Saks Potts still incorporate it into their collections. But changing tastes and increased animal-welfare concerns have led many of the world’s top fashion designers—from Versace to Ralph Lauren to Vivienne Westwood to Chanel—to drop it from their collections. Many retailers as well, including department stores like Macy’s and online outlets like Farfetch, have pledged to stop selling the product. Fur farming is already banned in the U.K., and France recently announced it would ban mink fur farming by 2025. On the heels of a coronavirus outbreak in its own mink flock, the Netherlands moved up its own plan to phase out mink farming; originally planned for 2024, it must now be complete by March 2021. 

So yeah, while I don't wish illnesses on humans in order to stop farming I am uncomfortable with, I guess at least something I approve of came out of COVID. 

Potential cheaper workers for manicure shops

This otter behaviour - nibbling down her owner's fingernail, without biting her finger - is pretty unexpected and remarkable.  Not to mention close to peak animal kingdom kawaii. (OK, if the fingernail biting doesn't strike you as cute, the second part of the video of the otter seemingly feigning lack of interest in a stick surely is.)

Time for the Reverse Great Leap Forward/Cultural Revolution (which needs a better title)

I was thinking about this article from the Brookings Institute over the weekend:

Biden-voting counties equal 70% of America’s economy. What does this mean for the nation’s political-economic divide? 

Here's an extract:

...the stark economic rift that Brookings Metro documented after Donald Trump’s shocking 2016 victory has grown even wider. In 2016, we wrote that the 2,584 counties that Trump won generated just 36% of the country’s economic output, whereas the 472 counties Hillary Clinton carried equated to almost two-thirds of the nation’s aggregate economy.

A similar analysis for last week’s election shows these trends continuing, albeit with a different political outcome. This time, Biden’s winning base in 477 counties encompasses fully 70% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents just 29% of the economy. (Votes are still outstanding in 110 mostly low-output counties, and this piece will be updated as new data is reported.)...

So, while the election’s winner may have changed, the nation’s economic geography remains rigidly divided. Biden captured virtually all of the counties with the biggest economies in the country (depicted by the largest blue tiles in the nearby graphic), including flipping the few that Clinton did not win in 2016.

By contrast, Trump won thousands of counties in small-town and rural communities with correspondingly tiny economies (depicted by the red tiles). Biden’s counties tended to be far more diverse, educated, and white-collar professional, with their aggregate nonwhite and college-educated shares of the economy running to 35% and 36%, respectively, compared to 16% and 25% in counties that voted for Trump.

Trump's appeal to the less well educated was well documented.    And his appeal to less economically important regions seems to be shown as well.

Trump/Republican belief in conspiracy theory is not just dangerous to democracy, it's dangerous to the globe, given they treat climate change as a fraud conducted by socialist scientists.

In Australia, you see a similar dynamic - climate change denialism is biggest in National Party members, isn't it, and they come from rural electorates.

The irony in all of this is that the actual socialist revolution disaster of the Khmer Rouge was all about depopulating cities to get everyone farming.  (The Chinese attempts at farming collectivisation in the Great Leap Forward and subsequent Cultural Revolution being the inspiration, also with terrible results.)  

But now, all the bad ideas come from the rural and less educated areas and have undue influence over how us reality based, city sophisticates, need to run the place. 

I like a drive through the countryside as much as the next city slicker, but if I were trying to organise a better world now, I think there's a good case for depopulating the countryside and rural towns.    

With automation we probably need far fewer people on farms anyway. And cities are supposed to be much more efficient for energy use.   And they vote for fewer numbnuts. 

So, here's the plan:  minimum city size of 1 million.   Round up people from the smaller, non-viable towns and make them live at least 50 km from the nearest city.   Those who must stay on the land for the good of the nation (vineyard growers, for example!) must agree to send their children to university.

The countryside to be reserved for day trippers.   (OK, I'll allow weekends.)

Farming to be more automated than ever before.  (If mines, mining trains, and container shipping ports can be as automated as they now are, there's room for a lot more automation in the fields.)

We have to give up on it being a good idea for people to live in the country.  It's clearly dangerous and a breeding ground for bad ideas.  

OK, and before you say that the failed communist plans were due to city elites sitting around and having bad ideas about how they could control rural populations and activities that they didn't understand at all :   yes true - but my Revolution is about not leaving a rural population there in the first place.   And all I am saying about farming is not that we need more, or less of it, or that it needs anything radical - just that it can be done with a lot fewer people given modern technology.

Of course, those who oppose such a plan - such as the IPA - I make a special exemption for them living in the city.   In fact, they are the only ones who should be forced onto the land.   Sinclair Davidson, John Roskam and the smarmy kids waiting for Liberal pre-selection who work there would do well trying to run a sheep station near Longreach, on quasi-libertarian principles, I'm sure...

You know it makes sense. 

Now for a better name.

Update:   this post was also inspired by my sympathy to takes like this on the American election;

Friday, November 20, 2020

The chapter about schooling is over

I'm feeling a exactly melancholic, but a touch of sadness about time passing.  Perhaps it's a twinge of foreboding of empty nest syndrome approaching, too.

You see, my daughter finished Year 12 today.  She didn't get emotional, but it reminded me of the mixed feelings I had when I finished high school.   On the weekend she will head off to a Noosa "schoolies" stay with her friends - which is not going to help with that "she'll be leaving home soon" feeling.

I think a lot of Year 12 students this year might not be feeling as emotional as in other years, due to the considerably smaller amount of time they spent together at school due to the COVID-19 shut down. So they probably already felt the start of distancing from each other at the start of the year.  It's a theory... 

Also, my son has finally got his licence and went driving alone for the first time today.   That's another change to briefly occupy the mind with imagined disasters, before squashing them into the corner of the brain reserved for thoughts you really shouldn't spend time thinking.

Anyway, such is life.   Maybe I deserve a drink tonight.  Oh yeah, I am cooking.  I had better go... 



Thursday, November 19, 2020

The conspiracy theory problem, again

This article at Vox about the terrible state of conspiracy theory belief in America is pretty good.   I'm not sure, however, that I agree with it's apparent conclusion that there is not much you can do to stop it, other than wait for people to grow out of it.

In other vegetarian news

I see that McDonalds, which has badly fallen out of favour with me and my family, is bringing in a "McPlant" burger - presumably similar to the "Rebel Whopper" which I actually quite like from Hungry Jacks.   (Speaking of HJ - I only ever go to my local one, which is pretty cheap and basic in design and seems to be run by really unhappy teenagers.   I may like one of their burgers now, but the chain still has a negative feeling about it, if you ask me.  At least McDonalds tried to make their outlets look more stylish.)   

I'm not at all sure how the fancier quality imitation meat market is going.  If my local supermarkets are anything to go by, sure, there are lots of start ups trying to sell vegetarian burgers, mince, and imitation chicken meat, but it often seems to be being sold at a discount because the expiry date is about to run out.  And there is something of a price issue - they are more expensive than real meat patties that involved raising a cow, trucking it, killing it, grinding it up, making it into patties and transporting it.   I guess economies of scale have something to do with it, but you would have thought that something resembling a meat patty made from vegetable protein should be able to be made at the same price as a real meat one.  

I don't even know that HJ Rebel Whopper is a success - it was heavily promoted at the start, and was high in prominence at the drive-thru sign, but the last time I went there, it had gone to a hard to spot corner of the signage.  This does not augur well.

I should really try more of the frozen, Asian imitation meats.  But one I really liked a few years ago - a sort of fake chicken but made from mushrooms and with a pleasingly firmer texture than you usually get from such products - I have not been able to find again, last time I looked.

Anyway, I still feel I should be making more of an effort to increase the vegetarian meals at home.  I still say I am never going to feel too guilty about eating a prawn or mussel, though.

Nut roasts noted

I don't know why - perhaps it's just my general fondness for nuts as a very filling form of vegetarian snack/food - but these recipes for "nut roasts" mostly sound pretty appealing.

Vegetarians rejoice: 10 nut roast recipes that won’t let you down

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Yes. Given the state of scientific knowledge on global warming, and how they ("skeptics") have for years now clearly lost all of their last gasp arguments ("the pause", "hide the decline", "it's all urban heat island effects" etc), there's really no point in trying to convince people who are absorbed in ridiculous conspiracy belief systems - which climate change denial now is - to move out of the way.  Governments just have to move around them.    

That's not to say that they shouldn't be forthright about telling people they need to come to their senses.  It's just that it need not be done in any polite "I respect your opinion, but it's wrong" sort of way.   

Stupid watch

Some people who comment at Catallaxy are still betting on Trump:

Actually, the fact that the betting markets are still taking money on a Trump win is really strange - unethical, I would have thought.    Nate Silver complained about it the other day.  

Here's a Left wing conspiracy theory for you:  some key Right wing figures (politicians or media) who all "on board" with election fraud conspiracy theories are shareholders in the big betting houses.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Time for something more optimistic

I don't know much about Dave Borlace, who makes educational videos on climate change and energy on his Youtube channel Just Have a Think, but he seems pretty good, and reliable. 

I particularly liked this one, because I had previously read a bit about flow batteries and thought that they may have a major role in the transition to mostly renewable energy.  It seems there may be grounds for optimism:

Just asking questions, Lindsay will say

Allahpundit at Hot Air talks about the ridiculous corrupt stink around Lindsay Graham ringing his fellow Republican to chat about what he do with the Georgia re-count:

Raffensperger told WaPo this afternoon that he and his wife are getting death threats from some of Trump’s more fanatic followers because he insists on claiming that this was a fair election. He also dropped a bombshell, claiming that Lindsey Graham dialed him up and … inquired about excluding some perfectly valid ballots:

In their conversation, Graham questioned Raffensperger about the state’s signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures, according to Raffensperger. Graham also asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures, Raffensperger said.

Raffspenger said he was stunned that Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots. Absent court intervention, Raffensperger doesn’t have the power to do what Graham suggested, as counties administer elections in Georgia.

“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” he said.

Graham has also publicly entertained the idea of state legislatures declaring their elections void and awarding their electors to Trump. This cretin really does seem willing to condone a coup against the elected incoming government on the thinnest possible pretenses, from excluding legal ballots to just ignoring the result of a state election on the theory that fraud must have occurred to taint it. There’d be nothing left of the country’s civic culture if he succeeded, but so long as Lindsey Graham gets to remain a senator and his party remains in power, that’s a detail. A question to ask yourself: Why did he call up Raffensperger in first place, especially now instead of waiting until the recount is over and speaking to him then? If he was speaking in his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because the committee is investigating election procedures, there’s no reason why that can’t wait until the more important work of counting the votes is finished. The obvious suspicion is that Graham called Raffensperger this week because he really was trying to lean on him on Trump’s behalf to start throwing out ballots in hopes of changing the outcome illicitly, before the result is certified. In a better world, the DOJ would open a corruption case on him tonight.

In normal times, this would be an incredible scandal.  Now, given the bottom of the barrel standards Trump has caused the GOP to sink to, it will just be a shoulder shrug.

Oh, now that I see your jihad against ABC is based on a reasonable critique of the organisation, I see your point [sarcasm]

Sinclair Davidson, having a tantrum about the ABC for the millionth time at his blog for fools today:

We need to get away from this notion of judging the ABC by small-l liberal values. The ABC does not practice small-l liberalism. The ABC is infested by extremist left-wing progressives who use small-l liberalism as camouflage to destroy our way of life and civilisation.

Of course, allowing ageing twits like Steve Kates and Rafe Champion, and conservatives like CL, to use his blog promote all of the Right Wingnut conspiracy theorising about the Trump election is just fine, though.  No harming democracy in the US at all, those beliefs.  Not to mention his blog's promotion of climate change denialism and inaction.  That won't hurt "our way of life" at all. 


This seems correct


Monday, November 16, 2020

How's the "let's humour him, and he'll go quietly" strategy of some of the GOP politicians going?


Just what a country needs:  a President yelling to his (often religiously fundamentalist) cult-like base that the side which won an election by a substantially larger popular vote is genuinely evil.

The chances that there will be a shooting by one of delusional followers, to defeat "evil", seems to be increasing daily.

Update:   the latest -

The biggest Trump suck up tries to convince Trump he can leave and come back

So, even Hugh Hewitt thinks Trump should leave "gracefully".  Fat chance.

The final volume of his memoirs can only be imagined now. When Trump leaves D.C. for Mar-a-Lago, he will launch a super PAC, build his presidential library and, yes, begin planning campaigns 2022 and 2024. Trump doesn’t need to own a cable-news network, but he should control a block of prime-time programming. He could effortlessly host his own show, probably with one or more of the Trump children, so he doesn’t have to be on set five days a week. This would allow him time for maintaining and expanding his coalition of at least 72 million.

Trump will likely oversee not just a shadow government but also a robust, ongoing campaign.

Trump and Trump loyalists will work to maintain a hold on the GOP, which is best accomplished by his proceeding smoothly toward a peaceful, graceful transition of power. Then for Trump, a period of consolidation and celebration of his achievements. Then ...

I can't help but giggle at the idea of what is going to be inside a Trump Presidential Library.  Comic books?  Remainders of all the self promotion books to come from his kids?  

I don't think Trump actually has any chance of retaining power over the Republican Party.   His cult members seem to continually project their assessment of Trump onto the GOP politicians who have had to actually deal with him.   I reckon the great majority treat him as a useful idiot.

Update: I agree with this: 


Sunday, November 15, 2020

While we're speaking physics...

...I also liked this video from a French Youtube channel ScienceClic (of which there is also an English version), which has a different way of visualising General Relativity:

Also - this article at The Guardian last year recommends a variety of science and math Youtube channels, some of which I have already checked out.  The PBS ones are certainly all pretty good.

Update:  actually, that was the wrong video.  I meant to post this one:

Back to Maxwell's equations

A few days ago, I was musing about the complexity of Maxwell's equations, and the lack of historical context in most attempts at explaining them.

Behold, via stumbling around Youtube, I have found the Science Asylum channel and if you don't mind his cheesey sense of humour (it's harmless, and a little charming in the way it's adolescent friendly), his videos are really good.

Here is the one having a go at explaining electromagnetism: