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Official Announcement: April Fools Day is Cancelled

It's April 1st today, historically a day when persons of ill repute tried to prank one another into believing ridiculous things.

However, this is the second year of the COVID19 pandemic, and also the year Brexit bites, and the second year in which British Prime Minister Clownshoes Churchill can tell any damn lie he feels like in the House of Commons without being called on it by the press, the public, or even the leader of the opposition.

Take for example the recent release of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which in other years would be an epic-level April Fool's Day trolling exercise (it purports to prove that the UK is a tolerant, multicultural, ethnically diverse paradise that has abolished structural racism and in which non-white people experience no discrimination whatsoever, they're just imagining it). It's clearly a joke, having been commissioned by the jester prime minister himself, who wrote (during his career as a journalist and editor) of "picanninies with watermelon smiles" (and described veiled muslim women as "letterboxes", and let's not even get into his overt homophobia). Ha, ha, ha. (Shakes rattle at monarch, squeezes pig's bladder to make farting sound.) And yet here we are, expected to believe a rigged report from a committee so incredibly unsure of itself that they had to name it "C.R.E.D.", presumably as a signal that they needed help ...

... And this is without even mentioning the previous US President.

It is therefore no surprise that as of 2021, the April Fool tradition has been declared to be obsolete by the International Trade Commission subcommittee on Humor.

Henceforth, trading in April Fool's japery is banned (and may result in suspension of social media accounts and blogging privileges) and an international treaty criminalizing the propagation deceptive and malign jests will relieve us of the onerous obligation to evaluate material we see on the internet skeptically for at least one day every year.

Indeed, I'm going to set up a petition to the committee to consign April the 1st to the status of damnatio memoriae—its name to forever be stricken from memory and banned from utterance. Where it's necessary to mention it for calendrical purposes it will be referred to as "March 32nd", and it will be followed sequentially by "April 2nd": when I've got the petition website up I'll post details here, and I encourage you all to sign it.

Thank you, and have a happy March 32nd! (And may it be the first of many.)

(PS: Toby Young could not be contacted for comment.)

437 Comments

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1:
(PS: Toby Young could not be contacted for comment.)

Who?


(Link for those lucky enough not to understand the final line of Charlie's comment.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/15/waves-britain-lockdown-sceptics-crisis-government#comment-146733310

)

2:

I beg to differ, it has progressed from the day of J. Random Fuckwit to a day representing the core "Principals" of many political parties, National governments, even corporate entities! A Charlie Foxtrot of global proportions! The consequences of which may challenge the entity of many names to adequately describe!

3:

Hmm, does the Guardian not count as the Press? because it's up in arms on this, article after rightly-angry article, including an angrier editorial column than I've read in a long time. I mean the Telegraph isn't talking about it and neither is the Mail, but they were never going to. (They're not fit to be called newspapers anyway, they're propaganda rags.)

4:

In Poland, the government just pranked the entire 40 to 59 years old population of Poland with the promise of COVID vaccinations in April.

They opened registrations through the Polish healthcare IT website, even though the 60+ group is not yet vaccinated in its entirety, and in the morning they were claiming that "it's because the 60+ group vaccinations have slowed down and we have a lot of vaccines lying around".

A few hours later they rapidly backpedalled and said it was an error, the 40 to 59 group was supposed to be vaccinated in May, not April.

In the meantime, 700 000 people registered and now health workers will have to call them and reschedule for May (or later).

An epic misuse of time and resources and an April Fool's day to be remembered for the next 3 to 4 decades (40+ year olds will live for that long, after all).

5:

NOT AN APRIL FOOL

I'm appearing on the program of Confusion 2021, the British Eastercon, which is being held online this weekend (starting tomorrow, sign-up still available).

Here's my current program schedule.

(I'm expecting to also do a reading and possibly an online kaffeeklatch, but they're not appearing on the program listing so far ...)

6:

Nix, The Guardian is marginal in UK political discourse these days -- it was colonized by the New Labour fan club during the late 90s/early 00s and gradually ossified in a position of irrelevance (with a side-order of unpleasant anti-Scottish bias and transphobia).

About 80% of the newspaper circulation is in the form of the right wing press, who start with Murdoch papers like The Sun and The Times, and then disappear into batshit neonazi-adjacent territory via the Daily Heil and then the Express.

Broadcasting is down to the BBC (whose director general is a big-name Tory donor, that's how he got the job), and as for the ITV networks, they got their choke-chain yanked hard by Thatcher over the "Death on the Rock" documentary decades ago: they know better than to attack the government. (Short version: Thames TV had the news/current affairs franchise on a national scale. They did a documentary critical of the SAS assassinating an IRA team in Gibraltar. Thatcher yanked their franchise, leading to mass redundancies and near-bankruptcy.)

So in terms of mass media traction, this story isn't going anywhere, although the British Medical Journal is furious.

7:

It's been depressingly comical in Australian politics in recent weeks. A prime minister who famously employed an 'empathy coach' fronted the media to respond to allegations that a staffer to one of his cabinet members had been raped in a parliament office. Said that he wasn't sure how he should respond until his wife told him to imagine it happened to one of his daughters. The cabinet member called the complainant a 'lying cow' and then went on leave due to a preexisting heart condition, and the accused checked into a mental health facility.

Then it was revealed that *another* of his cabinet members, the attorney-general no less, had been accused of raping a woman in 1988. The woman, a historian, tragically killed herself the day after she notified NSW police she didn't want to proceed with the allegations. The prime minister refused to allow an inquiry citing 'rule of law' and the attorney general went on mental health leave.

Thousands of women, outraged at, well, all of this, and a lot besides, marched on parliament. The prime minister said that he was prepared to listen but then refused to meet the protesters. Instead he observed that, unlike in Myanmar, the government would not have anyone fire indiscriminately into the crowd.

Meanwhile a Tasmanian speaker used parliamentary privilege to spill tea on a Liberal senator, and some fairly reprehensible statements he allegedly made about the two women in question.

The prime minister, meanwhile, finally bowed to pressure to dismiss the attorney general to the backbench, and reshuffle his cabinet more broadly, but not before identifying one of his senators as the 'prime minister for women' (implying that he is only the prime minister for men).

8:

I thought that was precisely why you introduced the notion of combat epistemologist in the Laundry Files.

That said, as a freshly minted resident of London, the supine acquiescence of the English to corruption and a mendacity on a grand scale never fails to amaze me, as well as the atavistic forelock-tugging towards the royals or aristocracy.

9:

FWIW, SMBC has a good cartoon today about why suffering exists.

10:

The whole report on racism thing.

If there is some group in the population which is under-represented in some activity (where enough people do that activity to be statistically meaningful) then there really are only two options that I can see:

  • there is discrimination against that group with regard to that activity;
  • that group is innately not as good or somehow just like the activity less than other people.

So: women make up less than 10% of people involved in open source: are women innately less good as programmers, are they somehow different in a way which makes them not want to be programmers, or are a bunch of brogrammers driving them out by behaving inappropriately?

Well, I'm not willing to go for the essentialist nonsense, and I've dealt with enough open-source people to be pretty sure what's going on there.

And now this report. So there is no structural racism in the UK, right? Yet only 1.3% of police officers are black, while 3.3% of the population is (or was at 2011 census) (these figures may be for England only, not sure).

So, well, there is no structural racism, of course, we've decided that. That leaves one option: black people are just innately less suited to be police officers than white people. It is, no doubt, because they have weaker brains and are just innately more criminal than white people (especially, of course, white men, and doubly so white men who know the names of their ancestors going back hundreds of years). Also the whole 'not being allowed to join neo-nazi organisations' thing doesn't help. I mean, that's the only option remaining right?

Yeah, right.

I used to think that people who talked about western countries sliding into fascism were being hyperbolic. Not any more: our lovely clown emperor with his nationalist (but you know, a little bit socialist too) takeover of the tories is doing just what his supporters want. And what they want is camps.

11:

In the Independent, they used to have three main satirists, Tom Peck, Mark Steel and Dave Brown, and the latter two still attempt to pen satire (with increasing difficulty), but the first has given up and simply comments on the politics as they are. He hasn't changed his style or type of contents a jot, and I regard him as the most accurate political correspondent writing today.

https://www.independent.co.uk/author/tom-peck

12:

"atavistic forelock-tugging towards the royals"
I'm not sure that treating them like soap stars is that atavistic, but one defence of the royals I've seen is along the lines of:
...given humanity's distressing habit of going weak at the knees, it may be better for this to be directed at a family with no actual power whose overriding concern is simply continuation of their position than directed at any of the alternatives...
( personally I'm simply indifferent to the royals, as I'm sure they are to me )

13:

No. That is NOT true, and the third reason is actually the main cause of structural racism in the UK: they are handicapped in that activity for some reason that has nothing to do with the area in which they are under-represented (or the people in it). There is a fourth reason, too, but it is almost irrelevant in this context (though not in all cases of 'structural discrimination'): they choose not to be represented in that activity.

The main structural racism in the UK is that the under-represented subpopulations are relatively poor, poorly educated, unskilled, and feel they have no chance. This is generally for historical reasons, not (directly) current ones. And failing to address that is the structural failing of our government and society, but it is the failure to discriminate in favour of those subpopulations that is the problem.

14:

Meanwhile, Starmer has bottled-out over Brexit, being afeared of his ex-voters in the NE, smug in their xenophobic racism

Prime Minister Clownshoes Churchill can tell any damn lie he feels like in the House of Commons without being called on it by the press, the public, or even the leader of the opposition. THIS - probably because Starmer has - & nothing at all has happened & he's not prepared to break Commons protocol & openly call him LIAR in the House.
The race commission is ... half-right, but .... "Institutional" racism is probably dead, but there are an awful lot of "individual" racists about - like the stupid female who openly said that David Lammy MP "Can't be English" - because he's brown (!)

I - & I suspect all of us will be, um "Interested" to see what appalling lies are told when the Brexit disaster really begins to bite.
Brexit is our Edict of Fontainbleau - & like said Edict, the effects will last for at least 50-100 years, if not longer.
As an Huguenot, I am NOT IMPRESSED.

Nix
Because the Grauniad has shat it's pants over the disgraceful bit of religious bigotry & implicit terrorism in Batley, that's why. Blaming the victim, rather than the bigots. SEE ALSO Charlie's lament @ 6.

Fazal Majid
WELCOME to our wonderful city!
Actually, we are not supine, we are currently resigned, as there appears to be nothing we can do about it.
Unfortunately, you also have caught the Grauniad's disease, worrying about the "Royals" & not worrying about Murdoch or Rothermere or all the corrupt little shits greasing themselves at our expense, courtesy of the tory party.
And our current Mayor is only marginally better than BoZo, in case you hadn't noticed.

tfb
Actually, very few police are openly racist, but I suspect an awful lot of them are bent - that was the problem with the S Lawrence case - the Met preferred to be thought & labelled "Racist" rather than admit that some of its coppers were on the take.
Which brings us right back to where Charlie started us from: CORRUPTION

15:

That's depressing. But if you're looking for some real dysfunction, don't forget about Obama's "anger translator."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkAK9QRe4ds

16:

I support this Motion, and pledge all of my accumulated Internet Points to the effort.

17:

Thatcher muzzled ITV, but Blair locked the muzzle on the BBC. It's now as badly biassed as Russia Today, but MUCH more subtly.

18:

Oh well, if things get really bad, Charlie can always retreat to the air-raid shelter in his basement
Seriously, in parts of The Old Town, no-one is really sure what's down there, IIRC.

19:

No. That is NOT true

Next time check the end of the comment you're replying to? tfb was clearly being more than a little ironic and you're in vehement but combative agreement.

20:

Greg:

I agree, probably very few police officers are openly racist. But still there is an enormous disparity between the police force and population they serve: you are less than half as likely to be black if you are a police officer than if you are not. So, if you reject the explicitly racist 'black people are somehow less able to be police officers than white people' argument (which I'm not accusing you of, obviously!), then there is racism somewhere.

So the police in the UK organisation in which the members are not openly racist, but which somehow is very clearly discriminating in its employment practices: that's pretty much the definition of institutional of structural racism I think.

21:

For the ethnic make-up of the Police, I wonder how much of that is down to minorities having such a low opinion of the institution and also being aware of bullying etc. that they just don't want to have anything to do with it? In other words, the problem isn't necessarily demand but supply (of sufficient interested candidates).

22:

The US State Department just issued its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (*), which includes

https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/united-kingdom/

(*) Mandated by law since 1974. One might be excused for seeing it as arrogant and deeply ironic.

23:

Thatcher muzzled ITV, but Blair locked the muzzle on the BBC. It's now as badly biassed as Russia Today, but MUCH more subtly.

I think this is one of those irregular verbs:

I know the facts.

You have opinions.

He's biased.

They've been brainwashed.

24:

Greg Tingey @ 18: the air-raid shelter in his basement

If you think that's freaky, what about this one that extends under two neighbouring properties and part of the street (and probably connects to next-door-but-one)?

25:

Windscale @ 21: minorities having such a low opinion of the institution and also being aware of bullying etc. that they just don't want to have anything to do with it?

Well why would they have such a low opinion? And pervasive bullying with no recourse? Sounds like institutional racism to me.

26:

Yes, they are, except for the ones who are the "Christian" version of Pharisees, and, oh, yes, the self-proclaimed "evangelical Christians" who are, in fact, by their own definitions, "Christian Satanists" (as opposed to the Church of Satan, who are good people with a sense of humor).

27:

I was seriously unclear, then! I apologise for confusing people.

The bit I was objecting to was the 'two options', which is a persistent myth that is used to support (sic) institutional discrimination against vulnerable members of 'privileged' subgroups, as well as obstructing the removal of the actual discrimination against the less-privileged subgroup.

It is critical to distinguish whether institutions are structurally discriminatory, or whether there is an external cause for their apparent discrimination. In particular, as every engineer knows, there is nothing so time-wasting as attempting to fix a problem in the wrong place.

28:

In the case of the BBC and most British propaganda, it's primarily not what they say, but what they don't say - including mentioning topics in ways that means nobody will find them unless the reader/viewer (a) knows about them and (b) specifically looks for them.

29:

I don't think you read what I wrote carefully enough. I said 'there is discrimination against that group with regard to that activity': I didn't say, at all, where that discrimination came from. In the case of the police, say, yes, it may be that the police themselves are impeccably anti-racist, but that generations of non-black people, only some of whom are called 'Johnson', have worked very hard to keep black people poor and depressed, and thus they never apply. That is, in fact, discrimination against black people with regard to becoming police officers: it's just also discrimination against them in many other regards as well.

And just in case, Charlie also was right in his response: my 'there is no structural racism, of course, we've decided that' was meant to imply the opposite.

Finally as to whether the police are themselves racist or not: there's a big difference between being openly racist and being racist. Almost no-one is now openly racist – what do you think Boris 'watermelon' Johnson would answer if you asked if he was racist? And he is openly racist: there are lots of other people (perhaps including me) who would never admit to themselves that they are racist, but gosh, isn't it convenient that everyone they work with looks the same as they do? And then, one day, they get drunk and oops, they're a bit racist after all. And let's not have the stupid 'the drink made me racist' bullshit: the drink disinhibited you (not you the person I'm replying to, generic you) until you said what you already thought.

30:

Yes, I read that, and I fully took your ironic point.

But the point is that, in many cases, there IS no current and actual discrimination against them - all there is, is a lack of positive discrimination in favour of them. In the dog-eat-dog world of monetarism and the UK, the effect of those is nearly indistinguishable - but the difference is CRITICAL to finding actual solutions.

In the case of the 'institutional racism' in the UK, my point is that the causes are entirely historical, and any solution needs the introduction of positive discrimination for less-privileged people (who are NOT solely in those 'racial' subgroups). And, given the harm done in the past half-century to society, that will not be easy :-(

Your example of the gender bias in open source contributors is a well-understood (and even better-denied) example; it was and almost certainly is true for programming standards contributors, which is a closely related activity. In that case, there is very little (perhaps no) lack of privilege to correct.

31:

I'm somewhat boggled,by what you write, given that I consider it really good, and makes almost all of the US infotainment media look like they're run by Goebbals, er, Murdoch....

32:

" In other words, the problem isn't necessarily demand but supply (of sufficient interested candidates)."

That's not an excuse.

33:

Here's a totally off topic random thought I just had to share. I was making bread, mostly because my girlfriend gave me an an electric pressure cooker for Christmas and I found out you could not only make loaves of bread in a pressure cooker, but they come out amazing and perfect and not the sense wet mess you would expect. Who knew. It's like magic.

And that got me thinking, which is always a dangerous thing. Consider....

Mycomancer: A sorcerer with dominion fungi, yeast, decay and fermentation.

Picture a old man, in his wizardly vestments, candles all about in the dim lit room, apprentices feverishly working bread dough on tables while chanting in an undecipherable tongue, his robes soiled with flour, his hands with bits of sticky bread dough still hanging from them raised before a iron cauldron filled with a ball of smooth white dough, saying in a gravelly voice instilled with the wisdom of the ancient masters that came before him, "Rise.... Rise my yeasty minion.....RISE!!"

34:

Sounds like you really need to read A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (pseudonym of Hugo-winner Ursula Vernon).

35:

tfb @ 10: The whole report on racism thing.

If there is some group in the population which is under-represented in some activity (where enough people do that activity to be statistically meaningful) then there really are only two options that I can see:

     there is discrimination against that group with regard to that activity;
     that group is innately not as good or somehow just like the activity less than other people.

Third possibility - the activity is something that doesn't generally appeal to members of the group or conflicts with some element of group identity.


36:

Pssst. Vernon, mister Stross, Ursula Vernon and not Versnon.

37:

She won her Hugo for the Digger comic strip, which is available online free.

38:

I didn't read the C.R.E.D. report, but I skimmed the first couple of pages. I found it kind of ironic that the Commission only had one white guy.

39:

The main fool I see is a primeminister so obssessed with running a totalitarian and unaccountable executive that he is willing to knock our country's brilliantly effective vaccine rollout ofcourse by trying to introduce such utter nonsense as vaccine passports. I can think of nothing more likely to increase hesitancy and stoke-up anti-vaxxer sentiment than undermining the rollout of safe and effective vaccines by miring it in the kind of 1984-style social credit system which some of your novels have warned of the dangers of.

https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/04/01/how-to-lose-friends-and-alienate-people-on-the-problems-of-vaccine-passports/#disqus_thread

The BMJ has a great article at that link which warns how certification makes vaccine uptake drop, not rise. Given that it is a medically pointless thing to try, afterall the vaccine protects against serious illness for each indidivual who takes it regardless of whether those individuals are exposed to the disease that others who might or might not be vaccinated might or might be carrying, this government seems desperate to sabotage the country's vaccine success.

40:

[Ursula Vernon] won her Hugo for the Digger comic strip, which is available online free.

Specifically here, in case there are any readers of this blog who have somehow missed it before now.

41:

P.S. Is Charlie still an Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch member?

42:

Given that it is a medically pointless thing to try,
No. The point is herd immunity, that protects even those who don't get vaccinated (or survive real infection, many with long-term morbidity) for whatever reason (immune compromised or no vaccine response for some reason, allergic, or gullible anti-vaxxers, or ...). The herd immunity threshold with the faster spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants is pretty high. Focusing on messaging talking about the selfish aspects can be helpful with some (selfish) sub populations but it is not a comprehensive approach.

That bmj report (thanks for the link!) is only scratching at the anti-vaxxer disinformation, and worrying about a (potential) minor aspect IMO. Practical issues such as virus variants (driven by rampant uncontrolled spread at high levels in several major countries, cough) are (scarily) more likely to be interfere with vaccination requirements, either corporate (e.g. travel) or governmental. (Curiously in the US, the anti-vaxxer stuff is partisan and significantly related to which party is in power, though the RW (gullible) has (well appears to have) the most rapid uptake of new disinformation.)
The Disinformation Dozen - Why platforms must act on twelve leading online anti-vaxxers
Here's the list from the full pdf.It is anger-inducing, a 40-page Rogues' Gallery. (It is a small subset of malignant influence operators (some state-supported), and USA-focused, but it's interesting.) Note: linked elsewhere including by cstross twitter, but worth a look.
The list of names:
1 Joseph Mercola, 2 Robert F. Kennedy Jr, 3 Ty & Charlene Bollinger, 4 Sherri Tenpenny, 5 Rizza Islam, 6 Rashid Buttar, 7 Erin Elizabeth, 8 Sayer Ji, 9 Kelly Brogan, 10 Christiane Northrup, 11 Ben Tapper, 12 Kevin Jenkins

43:

Just saw this on BoingBoing: "And I’m convinced that social media IS The Great Filter."

From someone who calls themself, "TheDevil_LLC
BBS Commander."

44:

I binged that comic a few years ago, like seriously binged... I didn't sleep for multiple nights in a row. Forget whether I had commitments (work, family) that slowed me down, it was all pre-COVID so probably.

Since then... well my wife and I watched 3 seasons of The Sinner at a season per day recently. Let's not talk about Better Call Saul...

45:

ORG member yes, though inactive for many years; BBW member, no and never have been (although was interested back in the 00s due to the National Identity Register scam Blair was trying to inflict on the UK: I gather they've got off in different directions these days, some of which are remarkably swivel-eyed).

46:

Just occasionally ... it would appear that pragmatism can overcome doctrinaire stupidity - but it's clearly going to be a case-by-case & very painful process.
Which we needn't have got into in the first place

47:

Specifically, the online version of Digger is here, and it includes the comments, many of which are excellent.

48:

Herd immunity can work only if the disease does not have long-term carriers, and we don't yet know if COVID does. Also, with diseases that have a period of asymptomatic infectiousness and a high infectivity (as COVID does), the level of immunity needed is unreasonably high.

Given the utter mess the USA and UK have made of our societies, I don't know how to get out of the hole without at least benevolent fascism and an equal amount of - Shock! Horror! - socialism. Well, in the UK, we are most of the way to fascism, but the benevolence aspect seems to have been lost in the wash :-(

49:

You get herd immunity to something like covid when there is immunity in somewhere around 60% of the population. The actual proportion is subject to debate from a few different theories, some suggest it could happen as low as 30%, others as high as 75%. Where in the range the threshold really occurs depends on whether the proportion of the population which are immune matches to those who are highly connected on a social graph. For measles you need like 95% immune to pass the threshold, covid is much less transmissible than measles so gets stopped somewhere around 60%. With vaccine uptake >80% we're on course to reach vaccine based herd immunity (on top of the unknown proportion of the population who gained immunity from infection or cross immunity from prior coronaviral diseases) very easily whichever parts of the social graph the vaccines end up in. What we must not do is let authoritarian impuses to build checkpoing society scupper this route to immunity. If we let people choose freely to be vaccinated or not then atleast 80% choose wisely, the others could be offered something like a free drink or meal which might get you up to 85% or 90% vaccinated. The remaining proportion isn't worth worrying about really, 15% to 10% of a population suspectible to covid cannot support continued spread. But as soon as trying to link covid status to a de-facto ID card comes up as a proposal people start refusing vaccinatiosn, not out of disapproval for the vaccine itself but out of disapproval for the authoritarianism and the indignity of having to "show their papers" even once vaccinated. We also need to remember that the vaccines are extremely effective in stopping severe (hospital requiring levels of) illness, so as long as most of the vulnerable chosoe to be vaccinated (and in the over 80s uptake has been something like 99%) covid becomes a very managable problem. The risk is any attempt at domestic passport use could really scupepr both the rollout and the national recovery. The USA and UK are in very serious messes, and it will take liberal pragmatism, coupled with a good bit of government investment in to a boost for businesses, a boost for wages and a boost for infrastructure building projects, to get our countries back on track. Financial socialism could help, UniveralBasicIncome may be of interest, but it all needs to be underpinend by a greater liberalising of daily life, not by totalitarian checkpoints. I'd suggest that the real challenge for recoevry now is recovering from authoritarianism, and the damage that divisive and discriminatory policies have been doing for many years, more than it is about recovering from covid itself. Beating covid is a simple matter of letting the vulnerable get vaccinated, which is almost complete, and positively encouraging the vaccine takeup for the rest of the population too. If you find difficulties in encouraging uptake in the younger generations then the first resort should be positive bribes, "a juice(alcholic at your discretion) for a jab" or "notes (clean crisp £20s) for the needle". If you still find that the vulnerable aren't safe enough you might even go so far as to mandate having the vaccine, it would be a disgraceful intrusion on medical consent but fining people who refused it could be necessary if there was high hesitancy AND there were many hospital-grade cases arising among the vulnerable because of it. But as things are going it doesn't look like we need bribes or fines, people are choosing to get the vaccine, but trying to implement a checkpoint society as a way to increase uptake can only backfire. In the end it comes down to the fact that people who chosoe not to get the vaccine are aking a silly choice, but one which will only affect them, "don't say we didn't warn you, if you catch covid after having not taken the vaccine you were offered then don't come crying to us". Even if the vaccine isn't perfectly effective at stopping transmission (it is about 70% effective at this I've heard), it certainly stops serious illness in the vaccinated. And stopping serious illness is what really matters, you don't get hospitals overwhelmed if there are no longer large numbers of vlnerable people able to get serious cases. A bribe is a positive incentive, nobody can latch on to it as "evil", anti-vaxxers can't make a strong point opposing something which is just a carrot with no stick. Both bribes and fines are single-occurence incentives, they apply once and life continues normally. But a checkpoint society will grind down on the vaccinated more than it will on the unvaccinated, why should the vacinated, safe from covid through benefit of a miracle of modern science, put up with living in a north-korea like world of passes for the benefit of a few who chose not to take the vaccine?

50:

That was on April 1st, did the guardian do a mock story that day before Charlie's proposed ban? It'd be cruel for this to be the mock one, but one never knows, or maybe the government has just released a mock press release? I'd like pragmatism to be true but do we really think the current UK government and cabinet are capable of rational thinking in preference to their ideologies of untempered, unaccountable, untrammelled power for themselves?

51:

No, what I said was correct.

Firstly, we do NOT know if there can be long-term carriers (even asymptomatic ones), though there is some evidence that there may be. If there are a significant number of them, 'herd immunity' simply does not work, because unvaccinated people will come onto contact with one of them.

Secondly, look at the information that has recently been discovered about the new variants, the certainty of ongoing mutations, and superspreaders (people not events). Many of the new variants are already infectious enough that they push the require level to above 70%, and this is almost certainly going to get worse.

I side with the experts, such as Whitty, who say that we are stuck with this for the indefinite future.

52:

Paragraphs. They're a wonderful invention.

But a checkpoint society will grind down on the vaccinated more than it will on the unvaccinated, why should the vacinated, safe from covid through benefit of a miracle of modern science, put up with living in a north-korea like world of passes for the benefit of a few who chose not to take the vaccine?

Um, wow. So those who are unable to be vaccinated, or whose vaccinations are ineffective, are disposable? You're aware that no vaccine keeps everyone safe, right?

Modern cars are miracles of technology, keeping their passengers safe in most crashes. Why should drivers, safe from crashes, put up with a north-korea like world of licensing requirements and speed limits for the benefit of a few who chose not to drive?

We put up with things like drivers licenses, speed limits, and breathalyzer checks. We haven't turned into North Korea.

53:

It's fairly certain that there are long term carriers. Long Covid still affects some people (like my wife) who had the initial infection over a year ago. And the symptoms are very variable, often with long periods in which the sufferer feels better. This fits in with a residual infection occasionally flaring up like shingles. The fact that many sufferers improve after the first vaccination fits in with this hypothesis.

54:

It's fairly certain that there are long term carriers. Long Covid still affects some people (like my wife) who had the initial infection over a year ago. And the symptoms are very variable, often with long periods in which the sufferer feels better. This fits in with a residual infection occasionally flaring up like shingles. The fact that many sufferers improve after the first vaccination fits in with this hypothesis. The important question becomes "Are they infectious?".

55:

Yes, I should probably have made it explicit: "infectious carriers".

56:

JakeCF
There's also the cantankerous awkward bastards, like me, who have had the vaccine, but will point-blank refuse to "show their papers" - & then watch the following giant wind-up & test-cases on Civil Liberties grounds

57:
Third possibility - the activity is something that doesn't generally appeal to members of the group or conflicts with some element of group identity.

Oh, that's why so few Jews joined the SS. Now I get it.

58:

Before this turns into a really stupid and angry argument, let's all remember a couple things. The first is that the U.K., as imperfect as it appears to be on the subject of race, isn't currently building camps for Black people, so maybe discussing the SS isn't appropriate.

The second is that while EC has chosen a fairly poor example of "treating the wrong problem" his basic idea is correct; that it's possible to do the sociological/scientific work and discover why Black people aren't joining the U.K. police in numbers equal to their proportion of the population, then to treat the exact problems which are discovered - not that the people at the top are listening to anyone else - but it could be done.

Sure, it could simply be that there's some old-fashioned black-hating people at the heart of the proble, or it could be that Scotland Yard would love to have more Black officers and hasn't had the budget to do the necessary advertising survey to figure out how to recruit Blacks - which wouldn't be surprising under the UK's program of austerity. The problem is absolutely amenable to being studied and corrected, but only if we don't make assumptions first.

59:

#6

"...and as for the ITV networks, they got their choke-chain yanked hard by Thatcher over the "Death on the Rock" documentary decades ago: they know better than to attack the government."

And it didn't stop at that documentary either. From memory in the early 90s there was a series of "one-time" auctions of the ITV companies and the rights to broadcast but not based on any sort of programme-making ability or quality, but instead based purely on money. The rationale was "If you can raise more money, you *must* be a better and more competent broadcaster". Total garbage of course but it set in stall the direction of ITV both then and now.

Today ITV is completely based around moneymaking and nothing more. You could swap and switch its TV programmes with many a cheapo satellite TV channel and they would look no different. Cause and effect if it were not for ITV's long history they really would be just another cheapo satellite channel.

And then what of the TV regulator? Remember the ITA - which then became the IBA, watered down to become the major-esque "light touch" ITC and then eventually Ofcom. And today since we're in the process of getting ultra-right wing news channels no regulator at all I presume.

As for March 32nd how's about calling it April 0th? And I did not know that they named the report "C.R.E.D."; I think it should be prehaps referred to as "C.R.A.P.".

60:

I think you are confusing me with someone else; I didn't choose that as an example. But, never mind, here is something on it.

Much of the sociological work has been done and is common knowledge. Some of it is the entry requirements (*), some is unwillingness (arguably caused by existing police and government racism), but very little is racism in the actual selection. Which is NOT the same as whether there is racism in how such recruits are treated.

(*) E.g. https://www.lincs.police.uk/about-us/join-us/police-officers/are-you-eligible-to-become-a-police-officer/

61:

"You get herd immunity to something like covid when there is immunity in somewhere around 60% of the population."

... or maybe you dont.

One very important parallel for Covid19 is the common cold, where at least four of the causative vira are corona-type.

All the old wives tales about getting common cold because your feet got wet &c &c, paints over the very simple fact, that when you can get the common cold pretty much anywhere and everywhere, there must be infectious virus pretty much anywhere and everywhere.

Unsurprisingly, considering how impossible it is to find a control-group, there has been almost no research on the common cold, so we do not know how people get infected.

Do they linger forever in the environment ?

Do they linger forever in our nasal cavities ?

How large is the proportion of healthy but contagious persons ?

Are there people with chronic infections who are always contagious ?

We simply do not know.

Whatever those answers might be, there is every reason to think that they will apply to Covid-19 as well, because it looks a lot like one of the four common cold corona vira is the one which caused a pandemic around 1890.

Until now that pandemic was assumed to be flu, but now that we have something to compare with, it looks a lot like it was a corona-virus.

Betting all on herd immunity is not indicated.

62:

This is wrong on multiple levels.

First, there's no such thing as "the common cold." There are 200+ known viruses that cause colds (https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/influenza/facts-about-the-common-cold), including, for some people, Covid19, which, based on symptoms and lethality, is for many people no worse than a cold.

Second, there's plenty of research on it. That's why we can't cure "the common cold" any more than we can cure "cancer." Some cancers have high cure and survival rates. Some are rapidly lethal. Colds are generally survivable, and many people get permanently immune to some/most of them after exposure, so herd immunity is less relevant.

The problem with Covid19 is that, as Anthony Fauci and others put it, we're in a race with the virus. That race is to see whether we can break the spread of the existing virus variants with existing vaccines faster than the virus can evolve a mutant that is not stopped by existing vaccines.

This is where herd immunity is critical. If we get herd immunity, it's going to spread more slowly, there will be fewer mutants (mutants happen in literally every infection), there will critically be fewer people who are chronically sick (the long-haulers seem to be where the nastiest new mutants are coming from), and we can go back to normal life with a system sort of like what we have for flu, where new vaccines come out every year or two and we get shot up.

The problem is if we do what Brazil's doing now and Red State US is doing now, and say fuck all on herd immunity and open up. Sooner or later, a new mutation turns up that is unaffected by existing antibodies, and we're right back where we were in April 2020.

And the story about the 1890 epidemic being a coronavirus is based on some interesting coincidences. When I looked at it a bit, the reports that it was influenza were a lot firmer than was the one saying it was a coronavirus. Given that everybody's been dumping grant money on coronaviruses in the last year, my suspicion is that if the 1890 flu was a covid, the story would have blown up rather than disappearing.

63:

"The first is that the U.K., as imperfect as it appears to be on the subject of race, isn't currently building camps for Black people"

...being a bit less specific, though, we do have a concentration camp for foreign people, and I'm not aware of any intent to tear it down yet.

64:

I've been operating under the assumption that the immediate purpose of the vaccination programme is to reduce the serious infection rate requiring hospitalisation and intensive care sufficiently that healthcare provision is going into repeated cycles of close to overload or actually overloading. In other words, it's to render the problem somewhat manageable without requiring the fairly draconian, by "usual standards" lockdowns etc. that have been required so far.

Any other beneficial effects that come with the vaccines is probably considered a "Brucie bonus" at this point.

65:

> provision is going

provision isn't even!

66:

Second, there's plenty of research on it. That's why we can't cure "the common cold" any more than we can cure "cancer." Some cancers have high cure and survival rates. Some are rapidly lethal. Colds are generally survivable, and many people get permanently immune to some/most of them after exposure, so herd immunity is less relevant.

Yes. During the early 80s I was on a plane 2 to 4 times a week, maybe 40+ weeks a year. For the first 2 or 3 years I had nearly constant colds. All year round. I was constantly exposed to 100+ people in a closed space.

After a few years things settled down and then and with my recent 5 or so years of flying 20 times a year I'm down to just a few, if any, per year.

I suspect I'm immune to most "common colds" but do catch the occasional one my body hasn't seen or one where the immunity wore off or never took.

67:

Nonono... stick/grip parity error. The thing is that the police are a particularly fraught example to be discussing the matter around. It's pretty well inevitable that the police will have a tendency to become racist; a situation of the police being completely fair and even-handed is at best only metastable, and the inherent aspect of conflict provides plenty of potential to drive the complex web of positive feedback mechanisms that amplify any deviation from that state. And also to tangle them into an unholy mess which makes trying to identify specific items on a graph of influences a distinctly non-trivial task.

Black people are also significantly under-represented compared to the general population in the numbers of people who go on holiday to the Lake District (something about cuts, or proposed cuts, to some tourism grants to the LD for this reason). The lack of antagonism and conflict around going on holiday compared with being a copper doesn't eliminate the complexity of multiple interacting causes, but it does clear away a lot of fog around the possibility of a major factor being nothing more than they simply aren't into it. You'll find the same kind of discrepancies if you choose any race-blind system of identifying your sociological subgroups to compare, too. Simply because different people like different things and people are broadly more likely to get into the same kinds of things as the people they see as "like themselves" are already into.

68:

During the early 80s I was on a plane 2 to 4 times a week, maybe 40+ weeks a year. For the first 2 or 3 years I had nearly constant colds. All year round. I was constantly exposed to 100+ people in a closed space.

Butbutbut… According to the airlines, flying is safe because planes have HEPA filters and so viruses can't spread. Have they been lying to us? Say it ain't so!

(Sarcasm. The most-referenced 'planes are safe from Covid' study assumes everyone wears a mask the whole time, stays in their seat facing forward the whole time, and only one person on the flight in infected. The first two assumptions seem to be seriously optimistic, and I have my doubts about the third.)

69:

The first is that the U.K., as imperfect as it appears to be on the subject of race, isn't currently building camps for Black people,

Neither were the Nazis, at first. I think if you compare the 1979 election manifesto by the National Front -- the far-right fascist party in the UK at the time -- with the 2017 manifesto by the Conservative party you might be forgiven for noticing a considerable overlap. In fact, on immigration, Priti Patel seems to be to the right of the NF/BNP at any point in the 20th century, and is indeed proposing to build detention centres for asylum seekers on Ascension Island or other offshore locations.

It's frankly terrifying here this decade, if you're from an ethnic minority with a history of being persecuted and have read your history books.

70:

Yes. During the early 80s I was on a plane 2 to 4 times a week, maybe 40+ weeks a year. For the first 2 or 3 years I had nearly constant colds. All year round. I was constantly exposed to 100+ people in a closed space.

Also, back then there was smoking on planes. Right?

So you were exposed to cigarette smoke in a confined space, along with everyone else's viruses. And cigarette smoke tends to cause lung inflammation and make people vulnerable to catching opportunistic infections (which is why so many smokers have chronic bronchitis).

Did "things settled down" happen to coincide with the smoking ban in airliner cabins, by any chance?

71:

Agreed. It's definitely scary, and if you think it's scary in the UK, it's double scary here. But I didn't see a single comment leading up to the business about the SS that justified a Godwin's Excursion.

72:

You are correct. The experts are warning that isn't going to be enough in the long term, and we have to reduce it enough (GLOBALLY) to stop frequent mutations, but they are not being listened to by TPTB.

73:

Irrespective of your other points, his point that it is very likely similar to the common-cold-causing-coronavirus stands. Your assumption that it is the sort of infection for which herd immunity is meaningful is dubious - we simply don't know. Yes, we need to get on top of it to reduce the mutation rate, but it looks extremely unlikely that any sizable country will be able to achieve herd immunity, even if that makes sense.

And any and all blithering about what historical influenza-like epidemics were actually due to is simply hot air. Even today, we haven't a clue how many influenza infections are classified as common colds, and how many other viral infections are classified as influenza, because of the difficulty and cost of diagnosis of viral infections.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm

74:

Charlie @ 69
As you say scary & approacing terrifying - BUT - it has been noted & there are huge amounts of protest & denigration of the whole idea being thrown in Patel's direction & that of the HOme Office. The only reason she's (still) there is that BoZo likes having her as a public target, rather than him.
Now that should scare you.
Also, there was a side-issue of "The monarchy" & governance here ... and we had a failure of the system, about 2 weeks back & no-one noticed, also scary .....
The Sarah Everard vigil - and WHO TURNED UP? Katherine, Duchess of Sussex.
Now then, that was "Sending a message" in the clearest possible terms - & what did Cressida Prick & MetPlod & the Home Office & BoZo's collection of arseholes do? NOTHING at all - they pretended that the message never existed, & then made up all sorts of lying excuses, after the fact ... again.

EC
Yearly booster shots. At least, here, even the politicos are admitting that it's probably going to be necessary, & it looks as though preparations are being made against that eventuality.

75:

Elderly Cynic @ 48: Herd immunity can work only if the disease does not have long-term carriers, and we don't yet know if COVID does. Also, with diseases that have a period of asymptomatic infectiousness and a high infectivity (as COVID does), the level of immunity needed is unreasonably high.

Given the utter mess the USA and UK have made of our societies, I don't know how to get out of the hole without at least benevolent fascism and an equal amount of - Shock! Horror! - socialism. Well, in the UK, we are most of the way to fascism, but the benevolence aspect seems to have been lost in the wash :-(

I read a piece by an epidemiologist last year and his contention was that we're going to get herd immunity by 2014 come hell or high water. Herd immunity is how all pandemics end.

The importance of vaccines & all the other countermeasures is they reduce suffering & needless deaths between now & then.

I'm of the belief that people who want to reject those benefits should be allowed to, but they should not be allowed to impose the consequences of that rejection on the rest of us. If you reject vaccination, you must be able to prove you have immunity & are not likely to spread contagion or we exclude you from society.

Is that fascist? I dunno, but I think not.

76:

John Hughes @ 57:

Third possibility - the activity is something that doesn't generally appeal to members of the group or conflicts with some element of group identity.

Oh, that's why so few Jews joined the SS. Now I get it.

I do believe the SS discriminated against Jews in their membership bylaws ...

I was thinking more along the lines of why so few Jews or Muslims want to pursue careers as swineherds or why so few Mormons own distilleries (or coffee shops or tea rooms)...

77:

Without taking a position on whether they are correct or not, of the two categories tfb suggested at the beginning of this subthread, this is actually a version of the second category. You'd perhaps need a slightly more careful definition, definitely losing the word "innately" as the circumstances of one's nativity are just one of several influential factors. And while I think EC's broader contextualisation of a distinction between systematic overt racism and underlying structural disadvantage is totally valid, I still think both fit well into tfb's first category (handwaving general heading of "discrimination"). It really just boils down to whether the filter comes about due to bad reasons or if not actually "good", at least morally neutral reasons. And I think in general we can see when people are arguing the latter in bad faith (which might not be conscious). Even if, sadly, it's because we know who they are and their lips are moving.

78:

The mind boggles. Anyone who calls himself an epidemiologist should know better than THAT! In particular, it is already known that catching COVID does not give you long-term immunity, which is an essential factor in developing natural herd immunity. I assume you meant 2024, of course.

We may be able to get it under control but, as Greg Tingey says, it's likely to need annual or even bi-annual boosters. At least they're not the painful and dangerous TAB ones of my childhood.

79:

For the record, I do NOT think that doing nothing about underlying structural disadvantages is morally neutral. It may not be overt discrimination, but it's damn nearly as culpable.

80:

Oh, I totally get that - I'm not intentionally accusing you of holding such a position. I'm merely making a case that tfb's distinction, a dualism, sort of works on its own without the clarifications you (and others) provided. Yes of course the real situation is more complex, but that might not be entirely the point. FWIW I completely agree with all that you say here.

81:

So 'in many cases, there IS no current and actual discrimination against them'. Which cases exactly are these? It is of course, very nice to imagine that we've all somehow managed the bigotry which has afflicted humans since there were humans and probably before and that now all that is left is to somehow magically fix something which isn't bigotry with positive discrimination. But it's not true, and if you believe that you don't talk to enough people (or, in the case of people like Johnson and the people who wrote this idiot report very clearly they are just lying).

If you think that there is no current serious bigotry aimed at black people you should talk to more black people, because I can tell you that there is.

If you think that there is no current serious bigotry aimed at roma and travellers you should talk to more roma and travellers (which I do, as I take photographs of horse fairs), because I can tell you there is, because I see it.

If you think that there is no current serious bigotry aimed at women who work in computing you should talk to women who workd in computing, because I can tell you that there is. Indeed I am married to a woman who works in computing so my information is quite good here.

But, you'll say, 'you're married to her, you will be biased, and also it's only one data point: it's just her'. Well, I'm also a scientist, so I can do numbers. And let's look at some numbers: in 1971, about 14% of US computer science and information science graduates were women. By 1984, about 38% were. But by 2011 the proportion had fallen to under 18%. That's a factor of two change in about one generation. This is not a 'lack of positive discrimination' this is women actively being driven out of CS by something.

The 'bigotry is solved, now we need to fix some other structural problem' idea is a dangerous lie.

I'm not going to respond further here, because this is not the forum for this argument and I will just lose my temper and shout (indeed I am about to do that in one more comment).

82:
Third possibility - the activity is something that doesn't generally appeal to members of the group or conflicts with some element of group identity.

Right, of course. Programming just doesn't generally appeal to women, does it? (Except, you know, lesbians, who really are almost men after all.) After all they have weak female minds and they're really not up to dealing with the difficult technical problems that men, with their stronger, male minds can solve. And it certainly conflicts with some element of their group identity: have you ever tried to type with nail extensions? It's very hard, and you're forever chipping the varnish.

And of course it couldn't be anything at all to do with getting harassed and sometimes assaulted by men in the profession, could it? No, of course not. The woman I know who was 'accosted' by RMS (her term: her native language is not English, I have not asked her more detail, as I can only do so by email and I'm not having that kind of conversation by email) is just imagining it, right? The woman I know who was told that she really should wear a wedding ring to indicate that she was not available to be approached in the (academic computing) workplace was just imagining that, right? And I'm not even going to report the comments I have heard from people drunk in the pub, because obviously they didn't happen: men don't say that sort of thing about women. White people certainly don't say that sort of thing about non-white people. And anyway alcohol makes you racist and sexist: everyone knows that.

Fuck off with this essentialist nonsense.

OK, that's all I'm writing here. It's sad, but I suppose predictable that there are lots of people, even here (perhaps especially here?), who find it convenient to believe that that no discrimination exists against various groups.

83:

TBF I think the folks doing that here are just splitting hairs.

The example I had in my head is that there's no discrimination at all about who is allowed to get on a bus or sit wherever they like. But that doesn't mean there are not a bunch of racist (and other) arseholes also on busses and you might not want to take a bus at all for fear of running into one. It's not enough to say that overt barriers are counter indicated and/or removed, and even to say anything at all about positive discrimination, without accounting for all the dregs that wash into the situation from wherever they are usually separate, and that's assuming the positive case that those dregs are not in fact normative for you area. It takes a lot more than simply removing some of the really ridiculous barriers to actually remove the real barriers.

84:

Pigeon @ 67: Nonono... stick/grip parity error.

Sorry, what is "stick/grip parity error"? I know what a parity error is (assuming you mean the binary check bit), but this is a strange new kind I haven't heard of before.

85:

Arrr, pieces of seven, pieces of seven! (parroty error).

86:

On the subject of looming fascism, I really recommend watching "The long goodbye". It is a short film by Riz Ahmed and is incredibly powerful. It is on YouTube. Everyone should watch it.

87:

If tfb would actually read what was being said or, better, look slightly more deeply into the issues, he would be a better person. Yes, better - I don't appreciate being so offensively misrepresented.

An analogue of his example is that there are now far more female medical students than male ones, whereas the opposite used to be true. One COULD say that this is men actively being driven out of medicine by something, but it would be bollocks. In any case, there are good reasons for saying that we need a higher proportion of women than men as GPs and in some specialities.

https://www.bmj.com/content/336/7647/749.full

I have been in computing since 1966, and have been looking into this area for much of that time, including trying to increase the proportion of women in areas I influenced. As I implied earlier, the reasons are well-known, and they are NOT what tfb says. Anyway, while I could describe the situation in detail, here is a summary:

Attraction to (and skill at) geekery is associated with Asperger's (IN TERMS OF THE POPULATION DISTRIBUTION), and both of those are more common in men than women. Communication skills are the opposite way round (see later). When I started, a huge proportion of people in the area were demonstrably Asperger's. That changed as it became more mainstream, and the proportion of women increased.

Later, most computing jobs were changed from being interesting, responsible jobs with good career pathways to technopeasantry, with all the consequences of that (see Dilbert). Even in academia, it was increasingly taken over by academic politicians. To a great extent, this is also true of many areas of science.

The consequence is that the best students in the UK and USA increasingly voted with their feet (often to law, finance, politics etc.) - and women, with generally better communication skills (IN TERMS OF THE POPULATION DISTRIBUTION) did the same (though more generally). And that's the primary reason.

I have also been in the position of being discriminated against and protecting vulnerable people from discrimination, but shall refrain for going into that aspect on the grounds of not wanting to start a flame war.

88:

this is women actively being driven out of CS by something

May I recommend Dr. Susan Pinker's book The Sexual Paradox?

The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap takes a hard look at how fundamental sex differences play out in the workplace. By comparing fragile boys who later succeed, with high achieving women who opt out, Susan Pinker turns several assumptions upside down: that the sexes are biologically equivalent, that smarts are all it takes to succeed and that men and women have identical interests and goals. After decades of women’s educational coups and rising through the ranks, men still outnumber women in business, physical science, law, engineering and politics. In explaining this ratio, Pinker’s controversial stance is that discrimination plays just a bit part. If the majority of children with school and behavioral problems are boys, then why do so many overcome early obstacles, while rafts of high achieving women choose jobs that pay less or opt out at pivotal moments in their careers?

A provocative examination of how and why learning and behavioral gaps in the nursery are reversed in the boardroom, The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap reveals how sex differences influence ambition and success. Through real men’s and women’s stories, combined with research evidence and examples from popular culture, Susan Pinker examines how weaknesses can become strengths, and why early achievements do not automatically translate into standard career triumphs.

https://susanpinker.com/the-sexual-paradox/


She's a developmental psychologist and university professor, not as well-known as her brother Steven, but seems equally smart.

FWIW, I've discussed the book with highly-placed banking executives and they agree with her conclusions.

89:

I think the problem here (right or wrong, I'm not advocating either position) is that there are three reasonable explanations for problems such as a lesser percentage of Black people becoming police than the Black percentage of population numbers:

1.) Active racism. That is, that there are one or more people involved with police recruiting who actively have racist beliefs and try to make it harder for Black people to get jobs as police.

2.) Passive Racism, or as it's more commonly called, structural racism. That is, there are some unexamined problems with the hiring structure for all police which cause problems for Black people who wish to become police. These might range from poor recruiting among the Black community to some leftover hiring procedure set in place by long-retired active racist to a couple questions on the police entrance exam which are insensitive to the Black experience of being policed.

3.) Real Lack of Interest, what EC calls "voting with their feet." Maybe Black people don't want to be police for some cultural reason which is unrelated to White racism.

The problem here is that a huge number of people will only see problems 1 & 3, and are so insensitive to Problem 2 (Structural Racism) that they can't even performatively acknowledge the problem, and I think that some of the people who've taken part in this debate are being called out for being part of Problem # 2. I don't know whether these accusations are appropriate or not, but it's worthwhile to understand the dynamic at play.

90:

there are three reasonable explanations for problems such as a lesser percentage of Black people becoming police

Or a combination. In marginalized communities where the police are seen as oppressive, joining the police means being cut off from the community. So you end up with a positive feedback loop.

Re your #3, years ago a Jewish colleague told me the reason there were so few Jewish police was because becoming a police officer wasn't seen as very respectable in the Jewish community. This article seems to back that up:

https://www.cjnews.com/news/jews-law-enforcement

91:

Yes, I fully agree with that, but you are also making the mistake you describe! Many of the (known) reasons for structural racism in entry to the police have nothing to do with the police at all - they are because a higher proportion of 'blacks' are very poorly educated or have no driving licence (which costs money to get) - I posted a link to a typical entrance requirement (and PCSO isn't much easier).

Now, some people say that the entrance requirements should be dropped for such subgroups, but (a) there is a lot of experience to show that doesn't work well and (b) it discriminates against similarly (or worse) handicapped people from other subgroups. Personally, I think the driving licence one should be dropped, and (if it is essential) treated as part of the training; that one I will pass as structural racism in the police entrance procedure.

So THIS part of the racism comes back mainly to ensuring that such subgroups are better educated, which isn't anything to do with the police, directly. But, as Robert Prior says, there is a combination of reasons.

92:

Getting hold of the wrong end of it :)

93:

The mind boggles. Anyone who calls himself an epidemiologist should know better than THAT! In particular, it is already known that catching COVID does not give you long-term immunity, which is an essential factor in developing natural herd immunity. I assume you meant 2024, of course.

Bullshit. Sorry, but this needs to be rethought, because it's dangerous and counterproductive. What we do know is:
--With one or more of the cold-causing coronaviruses, immunity appears to fade out over a decade, plus or minus.
--With the original SARS (aka SARS-CoV1), which the current Covid19 is extremely similar to, people who survived the original outbreak in 2002-2004 still showed strong antibody reactions to it in 2019. They also showed antibody reactions to SAR-CoV2, aka Covid19, although not as strong.
--There are thought to be over 100 coronaviruses out there that *could* infect humans, of which seven (the four colds, SARS, MERS, and Covid19) are the ones that have gotten lose. Antibody studies suggest that people in southern China have been exposed to other coronaviruses and have shaken them off without noticing.

I think the takeaway from this is that when you've seen one coronavirus, you've seen one coronavirus. The SARS-CoV type seems to produce three things: long-term damage in a few (from SARS, also seen in Covid19), lasting immunity, at least in those with serious infections (there's no indication on how long human immune systems remember this virus), and mutations that can be more infectious than the previous type.

As a result, I'd say that getting herd immunity to stop the mutation of a Covid19 that can evade existing antibodies is a good strategy. Since SARS has been eradicated from humans, it's theoretically possible (if unlikely) that we'll be able to do the same thing with Covid19. The problem is that SARS is still present in bats, so even if we get rid of Covid19, the virus population from whence the original mutant arose is still out there. And until people stop eating bush meat and make more habitat for bats and wildlife so that there's some separation between the us and them...we'll be at continued risk from SARS or other coronaviruses spilling over into humans again.

94:

Slight irony in that being completely colour blind means you can't join the police.

95:

Many of the (known) reasons for structural racism in entry to the police have nothing to do with the police at all

I take your point, and don't doubt that this is true in the U.K., but I'm not sure about the U.S., which is mainly where I was looking for my examples. I suspect that the exact mechanisms and dynamics of structural racism are different in each country.

96:

The dangerous myth is that this is a short-term problem and, once we have herd immunity (by vaccination or otherwise), the problem will largely go away. I am surprised to see you promoting it.

Antibodies are a VERY poor indication of immunity and there is considerable evidence that there may be long-term carriers (which makes the very concept of herd immunity largely meaningless). See for example:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/past-covid-19-infection-provides-some-immunity-but-people-may-still-carry-and-transmit-virus

97:

My point was that I think the boundary between 2) and 3) is so indistinct that 3) could be entirely hypothetical. That's because separating genuine examples of 3) seems to me extremely fraught. Sure there are trivial examples like halal butchers not doing pork (so there are no muslim pork butchers), but they are almost in the category of "exceptions that prove the rule" by not "really" being exceptions*. There are after all actual racists who believe wholeheartedly in 3), while denying that 2) exists, or still exists, and this is a large part of their world view. Surely insisting on some versions of 3) is inherently racist itself.

My bus example might be too abstract. How do you categorise the knowledge a person of colour possesses that racist people have traditionally, in general, been more attracted to jobs like the police and the military and that one is more likely to encounter such people in those occupations than in the community in general? (I'm aware that there exist remedies in recruiting and education which, while not perfect, do perhaps mitigate this issue but that isn't the point I'm making). Does this select against police of colour, as it might also select against people who just don't like hanging out with arseholes? And if so surely this is an example of 2), right? I think you have to include the effects of colonialism in general as part of the structural racism leading to such effects, but still it's a stretch to say unequivocally that something in particular is 3), isn't it? Surely.

* My favourite "exception that proves the rule", for fans of logic that seems paradoxical but ends up revealing an underlying truth, is onomatopoeia words and what they say about Ferdinand de Saussure's assertion that the relationship between phonemes and sememes is arbitrary. Surely such words are not arbitrary, as they mimic sounds from experience. The clue lies in that as it happens, onomatopoeia are not consistent across different languages (even ducks quack with different accents), and in many cases the equivalent word is not an onomatopoeia word at all: a situation that supports the arbitrariness assertion after all.

98:

The dangerous myth is that this is a short-term problem and, once we have herd immunity (by vaccination or otherwise), the problem will largely go away. I am surprised to see you promoting it.

Ahhh, now I see where the disagreement is.

We've got different standards for "problem goes away," I think. Part of this is that my wife works at a hospital, so I get a balcony seat on what a surge looks like when it floods the local hospitals. It isn't pretty (they just start expanding the Covid wings), and it isn't sustainable (most of their revenue comes from pre-paid elective surgeries, which are limited or canceled when there's a surge on). Getting to "herd immunity" means we stop going through these surges, which are destroying the US economy, one wave at a time.

I just checked, and the US is around 17% vaccinated right now. That means under the most optimistic circumstances that we're halfway through the race against the virus. I'd bet we're more like one-quarter to one-third of the way through the race to herd immunity-like conditions. Since every wave leaves more long-haulers whose viral ecosystems can potentially pop off an antibody resistant mutant, I don't think right now is any time to slack off on the regular protocols for avoiding the virus. We'll see what happens in July, assuming the Biden administration comes through on getting half the US population vaccinated by then.

Beyond that, I agree with you: we're going to go through more pandemics. Global trade and overpopulation pretty much guarantee it. So my "optimistic" timeline is that the US (note, I'm not talking about the world) will relax constraints by late summer. If there's no resurgence, people will truly relax sometime next year (this follows what happens in California after droughts and fires), and then...at some point we get hit again. Hopefully the next pandemic shows up before we've dismantled the infrastructure we built to handle this one (as done by Trump), but we'll see.

If we don't get out of the Covid19 surges, eventually (in a year or two) in the US, we're going to see a four horseman situation, with pervasive supply shortages, violent civil unrest, new variants of Covid running rampant, and a mounting death toll. I don't wish that on anyone, although apparently a few QNuts think it's a good thing.

Anyway, with college spring break and kids (and adults) being stupid, we're about two weeks out from the next surge. Wish my wife luck.

How does this match your model?

99:

Elderly Cynic @ 78: The mind boggles. Anyone who calls himself an epidemiologist should know better than THAT! In particular, it is already known that catching COVID does not give you long-term immunity, which is an essential factor in developing natural herd immunity. I assume you meant 2024, of course.

2014 ... 2024 ... What's the difference. A decade here or there isn't that important.

I think we can disagree on how essential long-term immunity is to ending the pandemic. Even short term immunity, if it's sufficiently wide spread, will break the chain of transmission. I read what he was saying to mean that within a couple of years the pandemic will have run its course because we will have developed "herd immunity". It's inevitable or else the human race will join the dinosaurs on the trash heap of (geologic) time.

... and there is no way to bring on that "herd immunity" any sooner by forcing people to develop "natural immunity"; i.e. by forcing them to get very, very sick and possibly die as some were advocating (and appear STILL to be advocating).

Long-term immunity or short-term immunity won't matter. What will matter is that a sufficient percentage of the world population has some sort of immunity at the same time. What happens to people while we reach that percentage is all we can do anything about.

What vaccinations CAN DO is slow the spread of severe forms of the disease, alleviate suffering, bring down the demand for medical resources (that were at the time threatening to crash medical care systems world-wide) and reduce the number of excess deaths caused by the pandemic.

We may be able to get it under control but, as Greg Tingey says, it's likely to need annual or even bi-annual boosters. At least they're not the painful and dangerous TAB ones of my childhood.

So? I get a flu shot every year. Now I'm likely to have to get a covid shot every year too?

How does that change the fact that there's really nothing we can do to speed up the acquisition of "herd immunity"? The vaccines aren't about producing "herd immunity", they're for reducing the damage the pandemic does to the human race while "herd immunity" develops on its own.

I think alleviating suffering and avoiding excess, unnecessary deaths is sufficient unto itself.

100:

tfb @ 82:

Third possibility - the activity is something that doesn't generally appeal to members of the group or conflicts with some element of group identity.

[ ... ]

Fuck off with this essentialist nonsense.

OK, that's all I'm writing here. It's sad, but I suppose predictable that there are lots of people, even here (perhaps especially here?), who find it convenient to believe that that no discrimination exists against various groups.

I'm glad I don't find that convenient, because I wouldn't want to make you sad.

Do you believe there is no other source of evil in the universe besides "discrimination"? Do you believe "discrimination" is the only reason people ever do anything?

I don't believe that. So maybe you should fuck off with your own nonsense.

101:

I might simply be racist, and not know it, but I see 2.) and 3.) to be quite distinct.

I'm trying and failing to learn te reo Māori, and to that end I've joined a lot of Māori language facebook pages. So I read a lot of comments written in te reo that are not intended for a Pākehā audience.

There's an impression I get from some of the posters that engaging with the colonial administration in any form is viewed in much the same way that collaboration with the Nazis was viewed in occupied Europe. I don't find that position surprising in the least.

I'm not at all sure that the UK experience is the same, but I think it certainly could be a factor. So I guess that makes me racist. Who knew?

102:

Robert Prior @ 88:

this is women actively being driven out of CS by something

May I recommend Dr. Susan Pinker's book The Sexual Paradox?

[ ... ]

https://susanpinker.com/the-sexual-paradox/

She's a developmental psychologist and university professor, not as well-known as her brother Steven, but seems equally smart.

FWIW, I've discussed the book with highly-placed banking executives and they agree with her conclusions.

On a more mundane level: How humans became the best throwers on the planet

Briefly, referencing evolutionary biology, touches on the true meaning of "Throws like a gurl ...".

103:

Elderly Cynic @ 91: Yes, I fully agree with that, but you are also making the mistake you describe! Many of the (known) reasons for structural racism in entry to the police have nothing to do with the police at all - they are because a higher proportion of 'blacks' are very poorly educated or have no driving licence (which costs money to get) - I posted a link to a typical entrance requirement (and PCSO isn't much easier).

Now, some people say that the entrance requirements should be dropped for such subgroups, but (a) there is a lot of experience to show that doesn't work well and (b) it discriminates against similarly (or worse) handicapped people from other subgroups. Personally, I think the driving licence one should be dropped, and (if it is essential) treated as part of the training; that one I will pass as structural racism in the police entrance procedure.

So THIS part of the racism comes back mainly to ensuring that such subgroups are better educated, which isn't anything to do with the police, directly. But, as Robert Prior says, there is a combination of reasons.

Another thing we need to figure out is how much #1 Racism feeds into #2 Structural Racism and vice versa and how much #1 & #2 together influence #3 Lack of Interest so that remediation can address each of those factors in proportion.

But we need to begin looking for ways we should change ourselves, our institutions and our societies NOW (because it's too late to start yesterday when we should have) and we can't wait until we know all the answers.

We begin searching for remediation in good faith based on what we do know and correct course as we learn better because maybe there's a #4 or #5 that we haven't discovered yet.

104:

there is no way to bring on that "herd immunity" any sooner by forcing people to develop "natural immunity"

Well, if people without immunity (whether natural or artificial) die out quicker, wouldn't that bring us herd immunity quicker?

Not an ethical approach by any means, as it means lots of avoidable deaths.

105:

ME @ 99: I read what he was saying to mean that within a couple of years the pandemic will have run its course ...

Probably, to be more accurate, I should have written: "within a couple of years this pandemic will have run its course ..."

106:

p>Robert Prior @ 104:

there is no way to bring on that "herd immunity" any sooner by forcing people to develop "natural immunity"

Well, if people without immunity (whether natural or artificial) die out quicker, wouldn't that bring us herd immunity quicker?

Not an ethical approach by any means, as it means lots of avoidable deaths.

Yeah, depends I guess, on how long it takes them to die and how many people they can spread the infection to among the survivors before they shuffle off ...

If you thin the herd sufficiently, the survivors might get "herd immunity" a few months sooner. But, do you want to bet your life which side of the butcher's knife you're going to end up on?

107:

"Surely insisting on some versions of 3) is inherently racist itself."

Absolutely. But the dynamic I was pointing at is just the opposite; the idea that believing in 3) at all is inherently racist.

108:

I think being a herd-immunity advocate says a lot more about the advocate than anything else. Personally, I don't think of myself as the member of any herd.*


* Yes, bio-types. I know. Just shut yer yaps!

109:

Re: 'If you thin the herd sufficiently, the survivors might get "herd immunity" a few months sooner.'

That's a lot of on-going 'herd thinning': anyone getting a cancer diagnosis and needing treatment, any babies entering the world, anyone getting older and losing various parts of their innate/acquired immune system, anyone coming down with some immune system condition, new viruses (corona or other) that might overwhelm, upset or even overthrow any existing immunity*, etc. The human population is not some fixed constant or made up of a finite set of units - it's dynamic and constantly changing. My impression is that the 'herd immunity' concept might work if you could corral each 'herd' with absolutely no mixing between 'herds'.

*'Measles erases immune ‘memory’ for other diseases

Measles infections in children can wipe out the immune system’s memory of other illnesses such as influenza, according to a pair of studies1,2. This can leave kids who recover from measles vulnerable to other pathogens that they might have been protected from before their bout with the virus.'

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03324-7


Another narrative that's regularly being touted is that viruses eventually morph into some moderate nuisance condition. Nope! Just look at Ebola - for a while variants showed steadily reduced/lower mortality and then out a few years later a variant showed up with a much higher mortality.


Then there's the long-term harm done (long-haulers and others) which is not fully understood because we're still very early in this pandemic.


It's going to take a lot more time and research before we really understand this virus.

110:

I think the "viruses morph into a moderate nuisance condition is something that happens over millenia, not months.

111:

I agree that groups often cluster around neurotypes like they cluster around age, class, occupation, sex, gender, religion, nationality, etc. And that making a group more 'mainstream' often destroys what made it wonderful for the odd people who created it. But since its April, I should say that I'm not sure of the evidence that autism is sex-linked. Because both diagnostic criteria and popular perceptions of autism and Asperger's Syndrome have been highly gendered, its likely that women have tended to be under-diagnosed.

Just like the rates of diagnosis are increasing because there are more resources being put into diagnosis. Some people like to assume that rates are increasing and speculate why, but until we can agree what autism is, find a quick way to identity it, and survey populations, we can't know whether the premise is true.

112:

I think the "viruses morph into a moderate nuisance condition is something that happens over millenia, not months.

Sorry, but I doubt it, and I'll give a thought experiment backed by evidence.

First off, the evidence: https://nextstrain.org/ncov/global

This is a phylogenetic tree of virus mutants over time. You'll note that 19A, the original strain, is a tiny portion of the viruses sequenced out there. Most of the current common strains are perhaps six months old. Viral mutations in an active pandemic are fast.

But wait, you'll say, this is tracking infectiousness, not mildness, and you're right.

Here's the what if thought experiment: what if the most common Covid19 mutant causes no infection? What would it look like?

See, the graph I linked to isn't an unbiased sample of viruses out there, it's a tree based on the viruses collected and sequenced, which means they had to be noticed.

So far as I know, when people catch Covid19, around 50% are asymptomatic. Their infection only show up if they're tested for some reason. So they're almost certainly undersampled, and we don't know what's infecting them.

Of those who noticeably have an infection, 90% (45% of those infected) don't go to the hospital. I'll go out on a very small limb and speculate that the viruses in these people are undersampled too. Why bother? Finding killers is more important than finding viral vandals.

The group you want to sample is the 5% who get seriously infected. If they're all getting infected by the same strain, that strain is your worst problem. While it's good to know something about what percent of infected people it puts in the hospital or the mortuary, the bigger question is how to fight it. So my informed guess is that people who are admitted to hospital are getting a disproportionately large share of the genotyping studies.

In this situation, if there's a common coronavirus mutant that rarely causes detectable illness and never puts people in the hospital, it's going to be hard to spot. Worse, going looking for it will be hard: how do you justify spending scarce resources (not money, but freezer space, sampling kits, genomic sequencers, people to do the legwork and paperwork) to find a virus that's not deadly? If someone is infected and asymptomatic, do you put them on a two week quarantine? It's a messy study both on cost-benefit grounds and on ethical grounds. But if the study isn't done, we won't know if such viral mutants are already out there or not.

Now note, this is strictly a thought experiment. I'm just pointing out that Covid19 evolves rapidly, and our testing for mutant strains is not (to my knowledge) at all random, so it's catching disease-causing viruses preferentially. That may well skew our thinking about how Covid19 evolves.

113:

*shrug* I don't think you're racist and I'm not trying to describe some sort of test. I'm just not sure about the distinction, I think when we perceive some of these things we struggle with our understanding of the situation derived from a structure that is as much a part of our backgrounds as anyone else's. Apologies, this probably sounds waffly and indistinct. Maybe more and more concrete examples would help but I'm not really going there... I can think of a different example that leads me into that territory you describe.

I have known several (and still know some) aboriginal activists whose end-state for their activism is not a treaty, a voice in parliament or any special constitutional recognition, but rather that all the white people leave Australia. You get differing opinions on other non-indigenous non-whites. Usually perfectly lovely and reasonable people, but whose (maybe totally justifiable) anger compels that outcome as the sort of justice they can accept. Does not agreeing make me racist? I think maybe it does, but I don't really see where I can go with it. I mean, certainly literally, but also conceptually. Australia: drive it like you stole it, right?

114:

I agree, and I think a lot of the argument here is at cross purposes (as some of the participants acknowledge). I'm sceptical about 3), only because I'm unconvinced we (any "we") can trust all the things we believe about it. But that's not the same as saying people who believe in it at all are bad.

116:

Troutwaxer @ 110: I think the "viruses morph into a moderate nuisance condition is something that happens over millenia, not months.

Actually the evidence is its more like a few decades.

The "Russian Flu" pandemic of 1889 killed around 1 million people. As far as we can tell, the descendants of that virus are still around; its called OC43 and is one of the 4 coronaviruses that cause the common cold. It was first isolated in the 1960s, so that puts an upper limit of 70 years on the process, and it probably took rather less.

117:

May I recommend Dr. Susan Pinker's book The Sexual Paradox?

A Wall Street Journal pundit who takes money from right-wing think tanks that promote "scientific racism". (And her brother is rather strongly identified with evo-psych, which again is kind of busted on the racism front.)

118:

I've been following the discussion about racism, here and elsewhere, for some time. I've avoided getting involved because Here Be Landmines. But I've decided to dip my toe in and make a meta-point.

"Race" is a social construct. Perhaps the clearest evidence for this is the "one drop" theory of being black, but it can also be seen in the ideology of racism; "purity", fear of contamination, the idea of the other as being diseased, violent and sexually promiscuous; these seem to be instinctive fears which crop up just about anywhere with an ethnic divide. The idea of the Conspiracy of the Others also crops up, although less often. It can be seen in the Protocols of Zion, and in more recent ideas about Muslim "great replacement" and "love jihad".

But if race is a social construct then so is "racism". This makes any attempt at definition like nailing jelly to a tree; as soon as you get one nail in it squishes away and turns up somewhere else in another form. Perhaps the best we can do is to describe what people experience at the moment and ask "Is this right? Is this fair?".

In the meantime a lot of the argument about whether X is nor is not racist seems to reflect this problem of definition.

119:

Another data-point on the "small number of host generations" side: when myxomatosis was introduced to the Australian rabbit population, it attenuated within 2 years enough that the rabbits lasted long enough to transmit it. A generation of scientists spent their careers trying to keep its virulence up; my generation (the next) went for an entirely new disease.

That said: IAN an animal disease expert - I only talk them from time to time - but these co-evolutionary dynamics can go in different directions. Relying on attenuation as a default outcome isn't smart.

120:

While I'm not addressing your point here (if I were, I'd point out that studying things that are socially constructed is perfectly reasonable and has quite a strong epistemological base, with no less empirical rigour than most disciplines) some of the traits you associate with racism and racists haver triggered a thought bubble that might be interesting enough to share.

Jonathan Haidt and others ploughing similar fields to the ones tilled by Pinker (the brother, that is) claim that conservative ethics are more complex than liberal ethics and in general conservatives are doing more cognitive work when they think about ethics. This is because, the claim suggests, they have more separate ethical principles in their thought system: concepts such as purity, in-group loyalty and the low threshold for disgust that seems to be rolled up in the same association. I can't help but notice these are also traits we associate with racists.

Haidt did an oft-cited study that claims to show conservatives understand liberals better than vice versa. While the design comes across as flawed in so many ways, but its evidence base was a survey where respondents were asked to predict what people with various political views would think about certain questions. So in some ways it's actually more a measure of who is more predictable, and perhaps consistent and likely to do what they say. But it also strikes me that some of the "more complex" moral position of conservatives can be shown to be slightly incredible and prompting more questions than it addresses.

121:

Interestingly I believe that Australia and New Zealand are testing 100% of inbound travelers and sequencing 100% of all cases they find (in community or inbound travelers). If there were a new low key version making the rounds (and was picked up by current tests) it would make the news.

I'm also pretty sure that those in the know are terrified of any slow burn variants and watching for such things. If asymptomatic people in hotel quarantine kept testing positive for active virus for more then a few weeks it would raise alarm bells. Asymptomatic doesn't mean harmless, an airborne disease with the same progression as AIDS is pure nightmare fuel.

122:

how do you justify spending scarce resources (not money, but freezer space, sampling kits, genomic sequencers, people to do the legwork and paperwork) to find a virus that's not deadly? If someone is infected and asymptomatic, do you put them on a two week quarantine? It's a messy study both on cost-benefit grounds and on ethical grounds. But if the study isn't done, we won't know if such viral mutants are already out there or not.

It's a job for the government. And here in the UK, government agencies are doing it: my wife and I are both participating in the Oxford University/Office for National Statistics COVID-19 infection survey, along with a huge number of other people. Once a week for the first month, then monthly thereafter, a visitor turns up to survey our interactions with other people and administer a COVID-19 test. Here's the latest report.

Note that the tests are not responsive to symptoms, but are happening regardless of symptoms/exposure: it's to deliver a snapshot of spread in the community, not diagnose a specific case.

(FWIW, my wife and I are both COVID-19 free as of last week: they mail you your test results.)

123:

My principal disagreement is the blithe assumption that 'herd immunity' is a meaningful concept, let alone achievable. In particular, as I said, if a disease causes a significant proportion of long-term carriers, neither is the case. And we have reason to believe that COVID may, indeed, be such a disease.

Note that its meaning is that an infected individual will infect fewer than one other individual on average (in terms of the arithmetic mean) before he ceases to become infectious, and so infections from outside will die away. That does not make sense if there is a significant chance that an individual will remain infectious indefinitely.

124:

The myth is complete crap, from mstart to finish, as several experts have tried (and failed) to explain. A mutation is as likely to make a disease more lethal rather than less - they occur essentially at random. The effect (such as it is) is due to the selection.

If two variants are equally infectious, and the former kills its hosts faster, the latter is likely to take over. Equally, if a disease is often but not always lethal, its host will evolve to have resistance. Simple Darwinism. That is the (true) origin of the myth.

How many generations (of infections or hosts) that will take will depend on how strong the selection pressure is, and (in the latter case) how readily immunity mutations occur in the host. The mathematics is quite simple, too.

But COVID is NOT like that, most especially not with modern medical treatment. It could evolve either way, and has already done so (some of the variants are more lethal than their predecessors).

125:

I partially agree. It's not just lethality, it's also transmissibility. If two strains are equally transmissible, but one kills its hosts faster, probably the one that is less lethal will spread further, because it has more time to spread before the host dies or the host immune system kicks it out.

The problem comes from when the traits that make a virus more lethal also make it more transmissible. These aren't independent, as a virus that somehow replicates faster (by jacking cellular processes or avoiding an immune reaction) may kill its host while shedding more virus particles. Since viruses are so simple, lethality and transmissibility often seem to be linked. When they are, there's a more complex selection curve, where both the least lethal and most lethal strains are selected out (the first by immune systems whacking them, the second by death of host in quarantine), and the winning variants are somewhere in the middle.

To use a well-known example, the original SARS (SARS-CoV1) from 2002-2004 was highly lethal but hard to transmit. It's no longer present in humans, although apparently it's still in bats. SARS-CoV2 (Covid19) is mostly nonlethal (95% not even hospitalized) and it's still spreading. The emerging variants are more infectious, but it's not clear to me how much more lethal they are.

126:

Yes. I was oversimplifying - the mathematics may be simple, but the data needed to use it are damnably difficult to measure.

There's some evidence for at least 50% increased lethality, in some cases. But, as that is based on fitting a complex model with some questionable assumptions, I don't trust the answer an inch. And, in any case, the current death rate is largely irrelevant from an evolutionary viewpoint, as it is (a) very low and (b) almost entirely in non-reproducing individuals.

127:

It's a job for the government. And here in the UK, government agencies are doing it: my wife and I are both participating in the Oxford University/Office for National Statistics COVID-19 infection survey, along with a huge number of other people. Once a week for the first month, then monthly thereafter, a visitor turns up to survey our interactions with other people and administer a COVID-19 test. Here's the latest report.

I'm glad you're getting tested regularly, and I'm glad you're both uninfected. For what it's worth, I've been getting tested as part of donating blood every two months.

The point wasn't about testing for whether people were infected, it was which viruses were getting their genomes sequenced. Monitoring infection rates is easy (and necessary) compared to that. The UK in fact has a sequencing project going on that has sequenced over 200,000 "identified cases" in the last year (https://cen.acs.org/analytical-chemistry/sequencing/200000-counting-UK-sequenced-cases/99/web/2021/02) and that's excellent.

What I'm positing is the possibility of many unidentified cases being caused by an inocuous strain of Covid19. Note again, this is a thought experiment, and I know of no evidence whatsoever that this is happening or even possible. I'll also note that EC is quite correct in his concerns about mutations. Covid19 has some stereotypical mutations that work better than others, mutations that improve spike protein functionality. There's no reason to think that a hypothetical inocuous strain couldn't re-evolve to become more lethal, simply by chance.

The point of the thought experiment is that, if a stealth strain existed, it would be hard to monitor. Given that the UK sequencing project is more concerned about finding problem strains (and more successful at finding them too), I don't think much effort will be given to finding innocuous strains, especially at the moment.

Now if you to see the result of some "natural experiments" in spreading Covid19 through various political policies, check out https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/30/which-world-leader-has-worst-pandemic-record-competition-is-fierce/ . BoJo didn't make the cut, "sad" to say.

128:

My understanding is that they sequence enough samples that were taken routinely (e.g. on asymptomatic people) to pick up something like that if it were widespread. But a low frequency, asymptomatic strain might go undetected, or simply not noticed in the results (there must be a zillion mutations that never take off).

129:

""Race" is a social construct."

Definitely.

"But if race is a social construct then so is "racism"."

I'm not so sure about that one. Racism is not just a social construct, it is also a behavior, (frequently speech) with a set of goals, strategies, and tactics. The best word here is probably ideology (or "set of ideologies" perhaps, because racists frequently disagree on goals and best-practices.*)

It's arguable that an ideology is a social construct, but I'm going to disagree with that position because the word "social construct" doesn't have a lot of power, and racism is a very powerful behavior. (Note that I'm not speaking in favor of racism here in the slightest.) So I'll stick with "ideology" here because we all know that ideologies have enormous power.

Note that the modern construction of "race" was used as a justification for colonialism and slavery, and this includes the "one-drop-rule." So I think we got the urge to exploit first, the social construct second, and the ideology third, as justification for the urge to exploit. It's very vicious circle, and once running it's very hard to shut down.

* Worst-practices really.

130:

if a stealth strain existed, it would be hard to monitor.

A number of places are analysing "waste water" i.e. sewage, looking to track coronavirus levels in the general population. It may be they're only testing for known protein fingerprints of specific coronaviruses that are presumed to be spreading COVID-19 but it's likely they'd pick up on other less-aggressive varieties since a lot of the proteins will be similar between variants if not identical.

131:

This has nothing to do with anything else being discussed here, but it amused me when I ran across it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9HGZnLu5tU

Since the topic is April Fools, I don't think I'm breaking any taboos by posting it before 300.

OTOH, I would not be offended if the moderators disagree & delete it.

132:

I'd think the thing to do would be to use two or more rabbit diseases at once.

133:

My experience of Conservatives is that they can predict the positions Liberals will take, but have no understanding of the context. Essentially, "predicting liberals" is not a matter of understanding, but of Orwellian ducktalk.

134:

Here in Canada the indigenous peoples have had an awful history with the police, and continue to make up a vastly disproportionate percentage of the prison population.

Yes, they are very under-represented in current police forces. The indigenous people that I know personally have almost zero interest in joining what they perceive as the occupying army.

The one indigenous person I know who did seek to join the police (my brother in law) was not accepted, despite being a highly intelligent, deeply ethical person with a degree in philosophy. He believes they rejected him because of his teenage pot smoking (when it was still illegal), but it is also possible that racist interviewers had a role.

135:

Rocketpjs "Here in Canada the indigenous peoples have had an awful history with the police,"

They make up 30% of the prison population yet they make up only 5% of Canada's total population.

136:

Right. Not.

"Throws like a gurl"... and they're taking MLB pitchers, not merely all MLB players, as a sample. Can you say "biased sample"?

For that matter, how do the bone structures of women whose graves have been found from 500, 1000, or 4000 years ago compare? And how much of "throws like a gurl" is due to cultural expectations and training?

137:

_The Frailty Myth_ is about women and sports and a surprising amount has been studied about how people learn to throw.

It turns out that "throws like a girl" is actually "throws like an inexperienced person". So, in a society that believes in "throws like a girl", boys are immediately taught how to throw, and girls are expected to not learn.

It's quite an interesting book, with a lot amount how the ideal Victorian upper class woman was expected to move very little-- so little that they were having trouble giving birth. So low intensity lady-like exercises were invented so that being upper class wasn't completely debilitating.

Anyway, the book is written with an assumption that all women would like to be athletic. I do not believe this is true. However, it's worth knowing about how the rules for men's and women's sports are different so that male and female performance can't actually be compared.

138:

It's worth pointing out that this is one of the postcard examples of confusing preference or aptitude with underlying socially-mediated structural disadvantage (in relation to @89 above, believing 3) is the case when in fact 2) is the case). It's entirely possible that everyone involved (parents, teachers, siblings) is self-consciously non-sexist, but in believing the ideology (that is, believing in 3)) unwittingly produces sexist outcome by passively constraining behaviours and opportunities.

139:

Sure, that rings true for me too. To me, being more predictable isn't a shortcoming. To draw a really poor analogy, sometimes the only reason for deception is to get the bidding high enough that you can declare open misere.

140:

In this situation, if there's a common coronavirus mutant that rarely causes detectable illness and never puts people in the hospital, it's going to be hard to spot. Worse, going looking for it will be hard: how do you justify spending scarce resources (not money, but freezer space, sampling kits, genomic sequencers, people to do the legwork and paperwork) to find a virus that's not deadly? If someone is infected and asymptomatic, do you put them on a two week quarantine?

Denmark has been sequencing all positive tests since January (with some caveats). With 200,000 daily tests in a country with a population of 5.7 million, it gives a pretty good picture of the spread of the virus in Denmark. The number of tests will probably rise, as the easing of restrictions is linked to increased requirements for recent negative test.

141:

Yes, but that's not the key factor in the issue he raised. It is how many asymptomatic people are tested - if only symptomatic ones are tested, then a variant that doesn't cause symptoms might well not be detected.

142:

Re disease becoming less fatal. Chytridiomycosis, the fungal disease in frogs doesn't seem to be getting any less lethal. It seems to be happy, not just killing its host, but taking out entire species.

143:

I was actually replying to that specific question. I probably should have added that roughly 0.3-0.5% test positive, and the vast majority being tested are not displaying any symptoms.

144:

Niala #135: Thanks for putting numbers to my roughly held recollections. It is an ongoing issue - in my work I routinely have cause to interact with police, and their treatment of indigenous persons is (anecdotally) hard to justify. Their knowledge of how to 'ride the line' of appropriate behaviour is extensive, especially when they are aware of not-necessarily supportive witnesses. I have no proof but plenty of reason to suspect their behaviour 'out of sight' is not better.

Whitroth#136: I've been coaching baseball for almost a decade. At the younger ages the teams have been about 40% girls. The older ages in our current registration are almost 100% male.

Some of the girls I've coached have been the stars of the team, but have moved on to other athletic pursuits. (One of those girls' male twin is playing on my team this season, another star). Others left for other reasons.

I have zero doubt that there exists a highly talented female player out there who will break the barrier into Major League Ball at some point, probably as a pitcher. Similarly someone will become a roster player in the NHL, likely as a goalie.

But that doesn't change whatever structural and cultural barriers are causing those young women to leave a particular sport. I sincerely hope that my coaching has made them feel nothing but welcome and supported.

145:

_The Frailty Myth_ is about women and sports and a surprising amount has been studied about how people learn to throw.

Added to the ever-increasing pile of books to read. I thought I'd have more time to read in retirement, and I do, but my eyes give out too soon nowadays… :-(

My sister won Bronze for the Iron Man Triathlon back when she was competing. In those days she'd go for a training run with me on a borrowed bicycle, and generous hold back so I could keep up with her.

To me, throws (or anything athletic) like a girl means 'throws better than I do'. :-/

146:

that doesn't change whatever structural and cultural barriers are causing those young women to leave a particular sport

Peer pressure and social rewards are probably a big part of it. Boys can be pretty nasty to girls in mixed competitions — look at the number of 'gamer girls' who get dogpiled and harassed online, and realize that the same happens IRL when responsible adults* aren't around.

And not just from guys. A few years ago our principal came on the PA at the start of school to tell everyone about the boys volleyball team, who had lost a hard-fought** quarter-final the previous day. She was proud of the players etc etc. Class started late because of this.

The coach of the girls rugby team, who had just won the championship, had to make that announcement herself, and do it with the other announcements rather than interrupting classes to do it.

Message to students: boys sports are important, girls sports don't count. From a female principal who made a big deal about Equity.

I'll bet your girls are getting the message that other things are more important than their sport, or possibly hassled for their sport. (Girls who do better than boys have huge targets on their backs.)


*Adding the adjective because I've watched adults ignore harassment and bullying, or even engage in it themselves.

**I've never heard a winning game described as "hard-fought", oddly.

147:

Re women in computing: this is a good article, summarizing what many of us went through. https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-women-stopped-coding

There are many examples of sexism in computing, ranging from the obvious (that Google dude) to less public (I have lots of stories of things that happened to me and other women). The bullying, arrogance, and nastiness entailed is more than lots of people want to put up with. This is a major reason lots of women will not change jobs if they are happy where they are, even if the salary they are paid is lower than the competition, because they don't want to risk ending up with sexist managers or colleagues.

148:

Haidt did an oft-cited study that claims to show conservatives understand liberals better than vice versa. While the design comes across as flawed in so many ways, but its evidence base was a survey where respondents were asked to predict what people with various political views would think about certain questions. So in some ways it's actually more a measure of who is more predictable, and perhaps consistent and likely to do what they say.

I suspect that it's very much a measure of who is more predictable and consistent in what they do and say. You may remember Altemeyer discovered, among other things, that authoritarian personalities were often poor at own internal consistencies.

Certainly I've encountered many angry right-wing internet posters who seemed to be completely blind to the possibility that anyone on the left could possibly want what they say they want. It never occurs to them that politics could be anything but zero-sum competitions and propaganda against the other side.

Actual understanding seems very poor. Notice how many essays and articles have come out over the past few years trying to figure out why one group behaves and believes as it does, and who is writing them. There are many trying to explain the peculiar actions of some demographics and a near total lack of those groups trying to understand the rest of the world. It's much more personally rewarding to repeat your own group's internal slogans about what the other side is supposed to want, and then avoid any non-yelling interactions with anyone outside.

Having said all that, I haven't seen Haidt's study myself. Is there a quick way to get up to speed on this?

149:

Having said all that, I haven't seen Haidt's study myself. Is there a quick way to get up to speed on this?

Well Haidt has a pop-sci book out called The Righteous Mind, which develops the material about different moral principles. I haven't read it, not sure I'd ever find the inclination to be honest, but have skimmed a couple of reviews as a way to come to grips with the content (for instance this one in the New York Times). The study people seem to refer to as a justification for the claim that conservatives understand liberals better than liberal understand conservatives is detailed in the book, but there are extracts around the internet. I found one here (warning: I know nothing about this blog, I just found it by googling for Haidt and this study).

There's also a TED talk by Haidt (again I've not watched it myself). This Wired article (which I have read) gives a précis of the TED talk:

https://www.wired.com/2012/10/the-psychology-of-liberals-and-conservatives/

As you can see from the dates, this stuff isn't especially recent. But also Haidt isn't a crank, he has his theory about 5 moral precepts and that's the schtick he's pushing. I've come across morally serious lecturers during my postgrad coursework who refer to his work in an ethics subject, even if only to provide a contrarian case in an argument. So I think your instinct is correct, that it's well to be across his five moral themes even if only to be aware that others might refer to them.

150:

Great article, thanks so much for sharing it.

I think it shows what happens when things that had not been gendered encounter mass marketing and become gendered. But as an (eye) opener, that graph is just stark and brutal.

151:

Ah. In that case, then, they should pick up pretty well all variants that establish themselves.

152:

Rocketjps
whatever structural and cultural barriers are causing those young women to leave a particular sport
How about the systematic bullying, the monstering of the small-but-agile, who are perceived to be "weak", anyone at all who has any academic interests, as opposed to being totally concentrated on spurts, oops, sports ... and the basic fascism underlying the whole ethos?
And not just females, either - all the above is from my own experience of "team games" 1957-60. And, from what people are saying, it hasn't changed or improved one little bit in 60+ years

There's also the "Keeps you fit & healthy" lying myth, inherited from the "muscular christianiity" (SHUDDER) of earlier years ...
disproven personally on several occasions. Because, of course there are other forms of "exercise" that DO NOT INVOLVE Team Spurts, which are many & varied & can be & are enjoyed by many people { In my case mountain walking, slow cycling, fencing, archery once-upon-a-day, dancing, etc & c. } But these are not "officially approved" or on the curriculum, are they, so they don't count.

153:

For what it's worth, I think the culture around athleticism has changed, for the better in some ways and for the worse in others.

Team sports have become less obligatory-- individual sports, especially running, have become normalized.

Being interested in athleticism is much more normalized for adults than it used to be.

The bad part is that pushing oneself beyond one's limits is also part of the culture. You know what those limits are? A lot of them are safety warnings.

There's also the highly visual notion that very low body fat is a sign of virtue.

I've been doing a style of qi gong which has the 70% rule as fundamental-- while you're learning, only do 70% of what you can, and much less than that if you're sick or injured.

And I *still* hurt myself because I pushed too hard. Part of the problem was group lessons over Zoom so I didn't have a teacher checking on what I was doing, but part of it was that even after a few years in this system, I still thought I should push myself too hard.

Details-- I was getting serious pain in my left knee from going down stairs. It's alright now-- all it took was a few days of doing much less qi gong, and especially to not do one that involves shifting weight and turning to the side. I got off easy.

Some of you will probably feel compelled to offer advice. It's better if you have some background knowledge about knees and/or qi gong and/or learning how to do things without hurting yourself.

The thing is, I've been working with this system for some years, and I'd learned both how valuable the 70% rule is (high quality progress), and how much trouble I have following it.

One thing I'm still curious about-- the worst with my left knee wasn't using it to lower my weight on to the step, it was the weight shift on to my right foot. I have no why the weight shift was the big problem.

****

I've been rereading Digger. The online version includes excellent comments, including those from BunnyRock, whose name I recognized from a previous read.

If you want something gentle, intelligent, and funny, I recommend it highly.

There's a mention of a run of earlier comments which were deleted but can be found at the Internet Archive. Does anyone know how to find them?

154:

Nancy L
the highly visual notion that very low body fat is a sign of virtue Ah well, some of us natural ectomorphs have an unfair advantage - like my trouser waistband size is the same as it was 40 years ago (!)
The bad part is that closet fascists like the utterly vile Seb Coe are still pushing this shit. The 2012 Olympic stadium is 3.2 miles/5.1 km almost-directly south of here - it really, really was deeply unpleasant that summer.

155:

Haidt did an oft-cited study that claims to show conservatives understand liberals better than vice versa. While the design comes across as flawed in so many ways, but its evidence base was a survey where respondents were asked to predict what people with various political views would think about certain questions. So in some ways it's actually more a measure of who is more predictable, and perhaps consistent and likely to do what they say. But it also strikes me that some of the "more complex" moral position of conservatives can be shown to be slightly incredible and prompting more questions than it addresses.

I wonder what that study's methodology would show if it was applied to someone like Trump, or the current Republican Party?

At one level very predictable in terms of goals, but with an absolute lack of consistency/predictability in words and actions.

156:

I've been doing a style of qi gong which has the 70% rule as fundamental-- while you're learning, only do 70% of what you can, and much less than that if you're sick or injured.

When running, I try very hard to keep a pace of 10 km/h. I could probably do 12 km/h for a 5 km run, but I find that it increases the risk of injury significantly. Since I started enforcing the 10 km/h pace roughly 5 years ago, I have avoided injuries.

About 3 years ago I ran a lot more, and did a few half marathons. Both times, I met a guy who was complaining of having injured himself with a running injury that would not go away. But rather than taking the hint from his body and finding another sport, he ignored the injury (and related pain) and kept running half marathons (and marathons, IIRC). And while he was the most extreme example, many of the other runners were discussing injuries a lot.

157:

We've had this conversation before. I'm sorry that your experience with team sports in school over 60 years ago was bad. My experience over 40 years ago wasn't much better.

However, decades have passed. I can say with 100% certainty that the girls whom I have coached on my teams were not bullied. In the few instances where bullying happened on my teams it was dealt with immediately and decisively. In none of those instances were girls the instigators or victims of the bullying.

That doesn't mean things are perfect. But you might want to update your software on the notion of team sports as they currently exist. This is me speaking from immediate, direct experience in the current day (I will be coaching again starting next Tuesday).

Both of my children are avid players of team sports. The elder is playing at the highest level for his age group (<18). You have frequently have defined such people as irredeemable fascistic thugs, and I have to reject that outright. You are wrong, please accept that your experience 60 years ago is not the same as current experience.

[[ If you want to use the < character, you need to enter &lt; - mod ]]

158:

(and also to Robert Prior 155)
Appears to be this (there are three papers with those three authors though):
The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum (Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek, Jonathan Haidt)
Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup's morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.

Useful paper, but it needs to be revisited (maybe it has been) to tease out the effects of extremely partisan media and monsterizing-the-other influence operations in general. (I haven't take a deep look at their methodology though.)
One of the major weaknesses of the right wing in the US is that, due primarily to closed propaganda media (including social media operations) and politicized churches (where many F2F conversations happen), many, including high-level people, have caricature-grade mental-models of the political opposition, and this makes them very mistake-vulnerable.
The Democrats, having won control of the US Government, will allow their mental models of Republicans to become less accurate (I noticed this in 2009). Certainly Democrats make plenty of mistakes due to poor mental models of their opposition. (The general "why should I bother to try to understand monsters?" attitude is sadly common (and accepted) in most partisan political groups.)

159:

To sum this up, and what others have noted, I would assume conservatives can *sometimes* guess how liberals react.

They do not, however, understand them. The entire concept of "there, but for fortune..." appears to be incomprehensible to them, and cannot believe that anyone on the left would actually *want* to live the way we say we do. They are also sure, apparently, based on all the comments I've seen for decades, that we would turn into Stalin or Pol Put, given the chance. Just that confirms what I said about what's incomprehensible to them.

The white wing, in the US, however, has gone over the cliff. Krugman notes that the GOP isn't even the party of big business anymore, they're the party of the core wackoes. And understanding them is not necessarily possible... given the irrationality of their mental connections. Qanon, anyone?

160:

If it were up to me, there would be exercises, and perhaps non-structured exercise time in schools. The school should NOT officially support or fund teams. Under no circumstances should children be *FORCED* into team games.

And I would ban American football, filing it with boxing as a blood sport.

161:

whitroth
But ... it was necessary, at least in part to understand the "white wackoes" of the Nazi party during WWII - wasn't it?
How long before a significant number of US "normally-republican" voters realise that their party has left them? The same Q applies here, of course - the "moderate" or "left" wing of what used to be the Conservative party now have BoZo & his gang of petty-fascists in charge ......

162:

Be careful with your exercises and your joints.

No, my osteoarthritis is genetic, not injury-based, thank you very much, says the guy who's had both knees partially replaced.

163:

Not sure why but the bottom half of my comment was absent.

... My kids play team sports. They are not the irredeemable fascistic thugs that GT asserts them to be, nor are their teammates. It is not public school Britain in 1955, it is 2021 and things have changed.

Nobody who does not wish to play team sports should be forced to do so. Everybody should have the opportunity to try things, ideally a few times at different ages. Because what is fun or not at 10 is different from 15 or 30 or 50.

School is an ideal opportunity to give children an opportunity to try things, including team sports. Especially since such things outside of school usually cost money, and that can be a barrier to some kids.

164:

A fair number of folks who think of themselves as Republican know the party left them behind. For one, more GOP than Dems have dropped party affiliation, and are now "independant" - it's over 41%.

Hell, my ex, from Virginia, I am told by one of our twins, still thinks of herself as a Republican... and hates IQ45 with a passion, and hates people who don't research the data (being as she's a now-retired librarian).

165:

whitroth @ 159: "And I would ban American football, filing it with boxing as a blood sport."

Don't hold your breath.

When the private high school I went to in the last century (Le Collège Notre-Dame de Montréal) went co-ed I held my breath, hoping that they would eventually drop their footbal program. Instead, they eventually added cheerleading as a sports program.

166:

Re: '... to tease out the effects of extremely ...'

Haven't seen the questionnaire but seems that the respondents were explicitly told to project their personal political stereotypes and so they did. What the article might suggest is that the 'reasonable conclusion' is: 'See - the other side doesn't understand us - why bother even talking about things.'

Looks like a pretty one-sided study design because no control, e.g., 'describe a typical physician, scientist. lawyer, elementary school teacher, etc. with no way to assess how prone these respondents are toward stereotyping (or exaggerating differences for effect/better recognition) overall.

OOC - Are editors/reviewers of social psych/poli-sci academic journal papers required to have any minimum research design and stats expertise?

167:

Rocketjps
Until v recently "School Spurts" were compulsory for all children aged 11-16 & may still be so in formal state schools. Mainly because of the pervasive lying bollocks that it's "necessary" to have spurts to keep the little victims healthy ....
And no, I went to a state school, not a "private" one. It looks as though, in some areas, the US is actually ahead, here! ( What happened? )

168:

No idea what's happening in US schools as I am a Canadian.

Here in BC the kids are required to have 30 minutes of 'activity' each day up to a certain grade (7?), and required to take Physical Education. That includes sports but also dance and a bunch of other stuff.

Actually playing on a school team in a sport has always been optional. So optional that it has usually depended on a parent or teacher volunteering to coach a team, with mixed results.

My mistake about the nature of your school. Sorry about that.

169:

Actually playing on a school team in a sport has always been optional. So optional that it has usually depended on a parent or teacher volunteering to coach a team, with mixed results.

It is, however, sufficiently important* that sports uses a significant chunk of the school budget**, that being a coach is a significant factor in many principals' staffing decisions***, and that a significant number of parents will avoid a school with no sports****. Not to mention students are pulled from class for sports, missing significant lessons, labs, and tests that their regular teachers are expected to make up with them on their own time. (Which is a time-tax on non-coaching teachers, honestly.)

I was chatting with the head of math last year, reminiscing about past strikes (because we were on the first walk-out strike of a generation), and he remarked that the year we struck covering for sports during class time (forcing all competitions, practices, etc to be held after school or as full-day competitions with paid supply teachers) was the only year all our classes finished the curriculum with plenty of time for review and remediation at the end of the year.

So yeah, participating is optional for kids, but those kids who do participate get considerably more of the school's resources than the kids who prefer chess or debating.

And yes, there are non-competitive physical activities, but administration still stresses the ones that can win trophies that they can display in the school for higher administrators to show what a motivated school they run.

Things may be different in BC — all I know about BC high schools comes from a long-retired Sunshine Coast teacher who had a very cynical view of the system, so is (hopefully) outdated.


*At the high school level — I have no experience at elementary.

**Larger than the science budget, for fewer students.

***Sufficiently so that principals will hire unqualified teachers because of the sports they coach. I know this because I've been asked to help those teachers prepare for subjects they don't know.

****The last time OSSTF removed sports as a strike action parents moved their kids into the Catholic system that wasn't on strike*****. So the next time we had to go on strike we simply struck covering for sports during school time. Usually what happens if the students and coach are released to go to the game and teachers have to cover the coach's classes; when we struck that it was either have admin cover the classes, move the competitions to after school, or make them all-day affairs with multiple games and hire supply teachers for the coaches. Admin didn't want to cover classes, the coaches didn't want to coach late after school, so they ended up holding far fewer multi-game full-day tournaments.

*****The Catholic unions have a history of being the first to settle, for fairly poor terms, but with a clause that if the public teachers get something they didn't get then they get it too — so they get all the benefits but have none of the costs associated with strikes.

170:

Spaceship - fungal protection against radiation

Don't think I've ever read about this here or in any recentish SF novels but apparently this info goes back to 2007-2008: some fungus including the stuff that's currently growing inside the ISS can provide a protective melanin coating against some radiation. (Just heard this on most recent TWiV episode - guest microbiologist Arturo Casadevall - who first co-authored/published on this fungus back in 2007-2008.)

BTW - at least one space agency is looking at this seriously.

https://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/projects/melanin_protection/

Wonder what the next ugh! solution will turn up for some other currently unsolved spaceship problems.

171:

Rbt Prior
Which shows just how utterly fucked priorities are...
"School spurts" are more important than an actual education ....
It was strongly in that direction 60-65 years ago, but not that obviously....

172:

Yup. All we need is a couple-dozen symbiotic species an we can live in space. (After thinking about it a little, I think humanity's move into space will be about quick as the move our ancestors made from water to air, though we might get some advantages from genetic manipulation.

173:

There is a fungus growing under Chernobyl that actually eats gammas using a melanin-based mechanism. But there is no such thing as a magical gamma shield, and especially not one made from organic materials, which are built of elements from the wrong end of the periodic table. The fungi are only intercepting a very small portion of the energy very inefficiently, like window glass becoming perceptibly warmer while transmitting sunlight at apparently unreduced intensity. To stop gammas you need a large thickness of heavy nuclei: there are no short cuts.

174:

Well, I can't speak for Ontario at all but my kids are in BC schools now. Both of them are the types of kids who join the teams though, so maybe they are exactly like the irredeemable fascistic thugs GT keeps asserting them to be. As he stated, he 'isn't hearing anything has changed' despite many people over the past few threads saying - to him- that things have changed. The hearing is the key part.

For another point of view, sports can offer a place of belonging for kids who might not get it otherwise. It isn't for everyone, it certainly wasn't for me as a child, but it has worked very well for both of my little fascist monsters.

175:

sports can offer a place of belonging for kids who might not get it otherwise

True, but many things can do that. It bothers me when the system gives preference to sports over other activities that provide a place of belonging — especially if that place is at the expense of other children who have other interests.

An active school like my last one has a lot going on, so many chances for kids to find their place. But only competitive sports was assumed to be essential, with pressure from admin for staff to step up and volunteer to assist, while other extra-curricular activities had to be justified by the volunteers.

Indeed, I think it interesting that school sports are now called "co-curricular" activities, while things like the chess league are still "extra-curricular" activities — because co-curricular means it supplements the official curriculum. And very interesting that a volleyball team (which cuts students who aren't good enough*) is considered co-curricular, while the environmental council (which takes anyone interested in the environment) is extra-curricular.

I don't have any system-wide statistics on how school sports is valued compared to other voluntary activities, just observations from the schools I've worked at and comments from colleagues at other schools.


*When I coached, the one policy I insisted on was that we wouldn't cut anyone who regularly attended practice, and everyone would get to play games, not just the best players — because the only way to get better was to practice and play.

176:

Haidt may have had some crediblity once but he got swept up in the bollocks that is the so-called intellectual dark web. He publishes tripe like The Coddling of the American Mind now. It's the same stupid schtick the right in America have been trying on since William F Buickley crapped out God and Man at Yale in the '50s. Here's one of the many takedowns available- https://academeblog.org/2018/12/28/the-myth-of-the-campus-coddle-crisis-the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/

177:

For any disease there are only a set number of mutations that are possible without the disease becoming something else, and I suspect that we've probably seen most of what may be possible with covid-19.

It isn't likely to start using a different way into cells, the amount of mutation needed for that is immense. Therefore as soon as it arrives at the perfect fit for the receptor, that's as far as that goes. The only other things that may change are how rapidly it can multiply once in a cell, and how effectively it spreads once the replication inside one cell is done.

I rather suspect that most of the covid-19 infections are sub-clinical, and that most of the virus life cycle goes on very, very quickly indeed; the phase from infection to multiplication to transmission from that host to others is probably over in a couple of days, and the entire disease cycle that so distresses us happens long after this process has taken place. There therefore isn't any real selection pressure happening on the long covid disease cycle or on the clinical phase of the common infection; the bits where selection pressure is being applied are over.

The trick now is to work out ways to make the transmission and infection processes much less effective. Vaccination is one way; otherwise it seems that even long wavelengths of UV light have some inactivating effect on virus particles, probably from disruption of the proteins rather than the more expected RNA damage that UV-B and UV-C inflict. If this is a factor, then we may be able to slow the spread using existing long-wavelength UV LEDs.

178:

Re: 'There is a fungus growing under Chernobyl that actually eats gammas using a melanin-based mechanism.'

Yes - he mentioned exactly this.


Re: Uncle Stinky

I'm guessing that the European Space Agency feels there's some merit to this. Also: Expertise in one area does not automatically make someone an expert in some other area.

179:

Regarding Covid-19 and the length of the pandemic, it is interesting that many seem to be just assuming that we'll require annual vaccine boosters indefinitely to ensure that we don't see a never-ending IFR of 1.0% or thereabouts each year (or possibly a higher if the variants do prove to be more lethal).

We already know that the South African and perhaps the South American variants in the news seem to have some degree of immune escape so can cause reinfection even if you've had a past infection or even perhaps a vaccination. However, one thing which has been noticeably lacking is any sort of a breakdown of how severe these reinfections were.

On the one hand, this isn't a surprise as there was such little global testing capacity during the first major wave of infections a year ago. Many supposed or suspected infections may have been nothing of the sort, so some of the reinfections could actually be first infections. The various vaccine trials have most definitely not mentioned anything about the severity of reinfections, even though one or two of them flagged these up. Perhaps not a surprise as nobody is selling sterilising immunity with the current vaccines and it is good for business to be able to sell a booster shot every year, especially with governments so eager to chuck money at them.

However, if the vast majority of reinfections are mild (or milder) cases, as you would tend to expect given the way the immune system operates, then it isn't nearly as much of a worry. Vaccine boosters would then soon become similar to the flu jabs we know well - generally just given to the older population and younger people with serious risk factors.

I suspect that it won't be until later in the year that any data about the general severity of confirmed reinfections becomes clear, although this is likely to be limited as the news will all be about the rollout of 'variant' vaccines by then. I'd expect the usual media scare stories about a small number of people who have worse infections the second time around, but I'm cautiously hopeful that we'll perhaps discover that after a year or two of 'boosters', we don't really need them any more as our immune systems will have adapted and the virus won't be quite as novel any longer. Not to mention, of course, the billions pumped into treatments which should also mitigate the damage infection can do.

Obviously, this presupposes that a super-variant doesn't emerge to put us in a doomsday situation, but this doesn't seem particularly likely from what we've seen so far. I know the anti-vaxxers have been pushing some scaremongering about the risk of ADE as their latest approach to deter vaccination so let's hope the universe doesn't get too ironic and make them right by sheer chance!

180:

Re:' ... but I'm cautiously hopeful that we'll perhaps discover that after a year or two of 'boosters', we don't really need them any more as our immune systems will have adapted '

That would work for the 1-50 year olds and/or no serious underlying medical condition segments of the population. The rest - anywhere from 25-40% depending on country - would still face medical issues. That's why seniors are now given the specially formulated (stronger) flu vaccines because their aging immune systems need more help.

I just looked at how the countries where wearing masks has been commonplace during flu season are doing -- specifically whether they've managed to avoid another 'wave' fueled by the more transmissible and dangerous new variants. Nope - although their numbers are much lower than among Western countries, their case loads are rising rapidly with 'Eek' their particular variant of concern. (Japan just announced plans to shut down Osaka for a month.)

181:

Robt Prior & Rocketjps
Maybe I'm overstating things, but RP has the point that spurts still appear to be more important than any intellectual activity.
Which I regard as flat-out wrong & possibly dangerously so.

182:

Immunity fades, in addition to new variants developing (and, no, there is no sign of that stopping). It MAY be possible to develop long-term immunity, but we simply don't know - as you said, the data available are so limited as to be useless in estimating that. Almost certainly, vaccination and previous infections will reduce the severity (though the converse CAN happen), but there is little to no chance we will reduce the problem of COVID to below that of influenza. Note that, while COVID is primarily a disease of the elderly, it causes a significant number of deaths and long-term disablement in younger people, including some infants.

That's livable with, but the people with the rose-tinted glasses are simply being unrealistic. We have a new established disease and will need to vaccinate against it indefinitely, in order to keep it under control.

183:

Over the centuries, we have built significant resistance to influenza, partly because everyone has had it and partly because of selection pressure. I'm not convinced that influenza is less deadly than COVID 19 to a population that has not been exposed to it before.

If we take the longer perspective of 25-50 years into the future, where everyone have had a vaccination and a few boosters, gets COVID 19 every 2-4 years, even the elderly will have a strong resistance to COVID 19, similar to the influenza resistance today.

The next generation will get COVID 19 multiple times during their childhood, but due to their increased resistance (and maybe a vaccine) they will mostly shrug it off. Some will get really sick, which also happens with influenza today.

184:

"School spurts" are more important than an actual education ....

Arguably they were in the age of mass employment in un/semi-skilled labour and a big-ass colonial empire that had to have physically conditioned young men available for military service. During the Third Boer War IIRC more than 50% of volunteers for the infantry were physically unfit to serve due to rickets, bad teeth, or other health issues: during the post-D-Day campaign in second world war the British Army was so hard-up for manpower that Montgomery was unable to reinforce units facing heavy counter-attack, or provide extra forces to relieve the paras at Arnhem.

"School spurts" as you recall them were meant to train young men in aggressive confrontational teamwork and physical exertion: it was very half-assed but it was at least a response to a logistical need that would have been unpopular if openly admitted.

You'll note that the link between sports and the military is near-universal and crops up in the most unexpected places. Look at the biathlon and ask yourself what the skills it requires training in are applicable to (skiing cross-country, marksmanship). The Soviets more or less pioneered parachuting as an Olympic sport. And so on.

This justification for mandatory team sports is obsolete in the age of highly skilled technicians operating complex weapons systems (instead of gangs of riflemen with bayonet-tipped guns shooting it out at visual range): about the only vestige of it remaining is in SWAT teams and special forces who are, er, special -- not a mass occupation.

However, from the 1950s onwards we've had lots of evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for long-term health outcomes (e.g. the classic comparison of cardiovascular disease between bus drivers -- sitting at the wheel all day -- and bus conductors -- walking around issuing tickets). So inculcating the habit of "activity", which can be individual or team-oriented and include all the stuff you like, Greg, not just soccer or rugby, is probably a good thing to add to schooling.

185:

While that MIGHT happen, it's pretty unlikely. A significant proportion of our immunity to such things is genetic, and that develops only over many generations - and, the fewer young people it kills or sterilises, the more generations that takes. In the case of COVID, it would be at least dozens of generations, even with 18th century medicine, and hundreds at least with modern medicine. I am ignoring deliberate modification of the human genome, here!

And whether we will develop long-term resistance from vaccinations and infections is an open question. We simply don't know.

186:

All we need is a couple-dozen symbiotic species an we can live in space.

I think you're out by 2-3 orders of magnitude, minimum.

Firstly, you missed the fact that your gut contains the overwhelming majority of the cells in your body, and they're not human: they're bacteria, they collectively weigh 1-5 kilograms, and without them all sorts of things go wrong with nutrient absorption and the immune system.

Secondly, the plants, fungi, and maybe animals/fish/insects you eat also have gut bacteria. And they eat other things. And when they die, the stuff humans can't eat needs to be broken down and digested by fungi or other insects and converted into feedstock that can be recycled elsewhere in your food web. Without losing any micronutrients, mind you.

TLDR is: you're looking at this from a systems engineering perspective, but biology -- and ecology is the systems level interface between interacting biological systems -- is monstrously more complicated than you imagine (because it wasn't designed, it just kind of accreted).

If you try to reduce it to the smallest possible subset that can sustain human life, congratulations! -- it will sustain human life right up until some unforeseen situation kills one of the organisms responsible for the critical paths in your nutrient cycle and you can't reboot, and then you all die.

187:

Yup. Especially in public (USA: private) schools which, for many years, quite openly had the purpose of training army officers (see Kipling on that). Sports WERE regarded as more important than academic education at my public school (*) but (a) that was in the 1960s and (b) was an extreme aberration even for the time. Apparently, that was completely changed in the 1970s, and I believe has not been true for any English public school since, though I believe some Scottish ones held on for longer ("Colditz in kilts").

(*) Before my year, we had more pupils in the England under-20 athletic team than got into Oxbridge. In my year, they didn't know how to handle the half dozen of us who were highly academic.

188:

Yes. However, that is commonly used to deny that there is even a grain of truth in the other viewpoint, which is both factually false and seriously discriminatory against some subgroups of people. Yes, I do mean that the tribalism of the politically correct discriminates against (and even persecutes) quite a lot of vulnerable people - which, of course, they deny are vulnerable or discriminated against.

189:

Haidt defines his principles and then says Cons fit more of them than libs - strawman stuff

From the Wired article in Damian's post 149

Haidt's principles are

Harm/Care
Fairness/Reciprocity
In-Group/Loyalty
Authority/Respect
Purity/Sanctity

Love the last one - brings up images of Fascism, Racism and the Orange Beast
The fourth one says lots about Haidt and very little about liberalism
The third one stirs in a little more Fascism.

Us libs apparently are allowed to use the first two.

190:

One suggestion I've seen for making school sports less important is to only permit competition within schools rather than between schools. Good luck making that happen.

Highest paid public employees by state: https://fanbuzz.com/national/highest-paid-state-employees/
There are a lot of football coaches.

Admittedly, these are colleges, not high schools, but I think it's still a good indicator of the culture.

I'd call football a crippling sport rather than a blood sport, but I don't know which one is more effective.

It would be nice if schools taught students to move in a way that doesn't leave many of them hating the very idea of exercise. School (as done in the US, I don't know about the rest of the world) does a similarly brilliant job of teaching many students to hate reading and math.

That reminds me-- I was struck in Harry Potter by how seriously students took their school subjects. Not 100% seriously, but actually learning the material was important to them.

I don't know how much of that was that magic is somewhat more interesting and/or obviously practical, and how much is a cultural matter.

****

One thing we don't know about covid is whether there's a long-term syndrome in the spirit of shingles.

****

I gave up on Haidt as soon as I saw him say that liberals don't have purity as a motivation. The short humorous version is that conservatives do purity about sex and liberals do purity about food.

I have no idea who understands who better. I've seen a lot of people on the left writing off people on the right as not worth understanding, which, now that I think about it, seems like a purity issue.

191:

while COVID is primarily a disease of the elderly, it causes a significant number of deaths and long-term disablement in younger people

In London (Ontario) over 50% of new cases are in the 18-22 age group.

University town, notorious for parties…

192:

Charlie
But the point that you may have missed & certainly schools & the "educational establishment" have completely missed, by a parsec or two is connected to what you said: a sedentary lifestyle is bad for long-term health outcomes (etc)
Yes, enormous BUT ... I have never had a sedentary lifestyle, I have always kept active, but, with one wonderful exception in my case ( tell you about it another time ) schools then & schools now simply appear at any rate to not even recognise the existence of suitable physical activities outside the mandatory Team fascismgames. I know my own teaching experience is now 30 years ago, but, then, there was (almost?) no apparent change.

EC
In my year, they didn't know how to handle the half dozen of us who were highly academic.
well - I went to my local "Grammar School" - which in those days had a good reputation ... a couple of miles away was a "public school" - even then we ( the pupils ) commented that said school was "For thick kids with rich parents" - & no their academic results were noticeably worse than "ours".
Later ...
"Authority/Respect/Purity/Sanctity"
Sounds like an advert to join the OSD in about 1209! Or the Waffen-SS in 1934!

Both of you & Nancy L ...
Spurts coaches being paid well + a. v recent development.
Rather than trying to at the least downplay football, etc, they are ENCOURAGING girls to take it up! WE now have a serious professional women's league in "fitba" .. oh dear.

193:

In a more normal time this would be a headline from the Onion or an April Fools article but in these times, well it just fits in.

Putin signs law allowing him 2 more terms as Russia’s leader

https://apnews.com/article/russia-putin-signs-law-allows-2-more-terms-d9acdada71b75c3daeafb389782fed4b

194:

My children are not yet 11, so are in primary school, but at primary level the current UK thinking is so-called "multi-skills training", not team sports. They still get "tasters" of team sports, but there are no established teams.

In other words, the emphasis is on learning the skills you'll need for any team sport (kicking a ball in the right direction, catching a ball, running etc) and not on the sports themselves. This turns out to be difficult for the kids who are considered "good at sports" because it turns the focus on your own abilities as an individual, and thus gets rid of a lot of the opportunity for cruelty towards others.

195:

It would be nice if schools taught students to move in a way that doesn't leave many of them hating the very idea of exercise.

I struck me this morning that if we assume school sports are a 'subject' to encourage healthy exercise*, then their pedagogical philosophy is diametrically opposite other subjects!

If a student has trouble with math, we give them extra support in math — tutoring, possibly special accommodations, try to show them that they can do math so they;re not discouraged, etc. The push from admin is to help every student pass.

If a student has trouble with a sport, they get cut from the team and have no chance to get better, or if they are kept on the team they get less playing time and less coaching attention. The push from admin is to have a winning team.

If the true purpose of school sports is encouraging healthy lifestyles, shouldn't the emphasis be on keeping students in them rather than driving the one having trouble away?


*Not something I agree with (unless the subject is phys ed, but one supported by designnatiing them co-curricular rather than extra-curricular.

196:

the emphasis is on learning the skills you'll need for any team sport (kicking a ball in the right direction, catching a ball, running etc) and not on the sports themselves

I like this idea. Any chance you could post a pointer to the program so I can show it to colleagues?

197:

Did "things settled down" happen to coincide with the smoking ban in airliner cabins, by any chance?

Yes. And no.

Studies involving one subject make it hard to control. I'll admit that totally.

But in the US smoking was confined to the rear (at least most of this time before being banned). And the air filters did make a difference. The back of the planes seriously looked like a "London Fog" zone at times.

198:

Butbutbut… According to the airlines, flying is safe because planes have HEPA filters and so viruses can't spread. Have they been lying to us? Say it ain't so!

As to your sarcasm point. Yes. Sort of. Kind of.

Modern planes have airflow over most seats. This personally drives me nuts as I hate a breeze blowing on me unless I'm working in a very hot environment and sweating profusely. But back to the point. With that airflow from the filters and your seat mates wearing masks I do consider sitting on a plane somewhat safe.

But that's not why I've not flown for over a year. Flying doesn't involve someone teleporting from their home to the airplane seat. It means taking some kind of transportation to and from the airport and mingling with large crowds in a building for an hour or so at each end. And queuing up several times at each end. With people who may or may not want to bother with masks or that they have a fever or whatever.

To me, the process of getting on and off the planes is what is bad about flying just now. And to Charlie's point about smoking and colds, the same applies. I did not hang out with smokers when not on a plane but was around crowds of strangers a LOT.

Disclaimer: My wife worked for a major US airline for 20 years. And I have enough Avios points to fly most anywhere on the planet first class if I wanted to get on a plane. Plus a lot of miles in other programs.

199:

Re: 'Haidt's principles are ...'

I only watched the TED Talk but my impression is that these are labels of convenience for identifying discernible (i.e., statistically different) groups of related/similarly responding variables between - in this case - two artificially (and self-identifying/labeling) population segments. If my interpretation of how he parsed this model (specifically his start and end points) is correct, this segmentation was done bassackwards to how segmentation is usually done. This approach is okay to use sometimes as a way to test the fit of a segmentation model but is not okay for finding a new model. Lots of methodology issues here. Folks here with different modeling experience might see other issues but that's what jumps out at me.

Further - my impression of the 'purity' construct is that it's probably similar to 'neuroticism' in the Big Five model. Identifying a label for a behavior or tendency is not the same as condoning/wanting to promote that behavior. This also brings up something I've been meaning to ask the folks here: quite a few of the older religions have 'purity' embedded within their religions (kosher, halal, etc.) - have any historians checked whether this was a social/cultural response to some previous pandemic? Almost all of the history I learned in elementary-high school had a strong European/North American-Christian bias which doesn't.

200:

but they are not being listened to by TPTB.

In the US we still have a sizable number of people who refuse to listen to anyone who says this is worse than a typical case of the flu. Somewhere between 10% and 40%.

As long as that's true it almost doesn't mater what TPTB say or do.

How about other places on the planet?

201:

If you search for "Multi-Skills Development in Sport", you should find resources that help you show it to colleagues. There are several UK bodies that issue "level 2 certificates" in multi-skills coaching, and some of them should have syllabuses for their training.

202:

For some inscrutable reason, most people in the UK believe what the government says. As the government has had a long-term policy of never telling the truth when a lie will do, I don't understand it. In our case, it's not the people not listening to the government, but the attitudes in the government (and, to some extent, in the people) (a) that reality will reshape itself if you can convince enough people and (b) that selfishness is the only true morality, especially at a country level.

203:

Dietary and similar restrictions are not really a historical matter, as most have no preceding record, but they have quite a strong correlation with safe practices under Mesopotanian conditions. In particular, pigs are notorious for being zoonose sources, even today, and some freshwater molluscs are alternate hosts for very nasty and common diseases. There are several nasty diseases transmitted by carnivores, COVID has shown how risky bats are, and the bacteria in reptile and amphibian guts can be quite nasty to mammals. Bleeding carcases reduces the speed at which they rot in hot conditions. And so on.

But, as far as I know, there's nothing much more definitive.

204:

I'm not prepared to deny there may be an occasional grain of truth but in almost every case where some right or centrist pundit has mounted his hobby horse to rail against those wicked SJWs, there's usually a far more complicated tale lurking beneath the manufactured outrage.

205:

Oh, yes, and you will notice that I will not support them, either. But I stand by what I said, and remain unapologetic for being effectively a SJW on behalf of the minorities that are discriminated against by the mainstream and self-proclaimed SJWs (as well as the right-wing bigots, of course).

206:

Oh, definitely. The post you were responding to wasn't meant to be taken seriously. (The statement about how moving into space is akin to the move from water into air... you can take that one seriously if you want!)

207:

"Throws like a gurl"

My daughter played baseball (NOT softball) through the age of 17. She was better than 1/2 of the boys on most of the rec league teams she was on. Typically in a league of 100 boys there MIGHT be one other lady. She will tell you that the anatomy of ladies (bone layout) means they throw and run a bit differently that the men. Now add to that that most don't play baseball (or football) while growing up and then you get really bad throwing motions unless they take up a sport that requires throwing.

208:

I have zero doubt that there exists a highly talented female player out there who will break the barrier into Major League Ball at some point, probably as a pitcher

My daughter played through the age of 17. She was almost always the best fielder on the team. But her size and lack of muscle tone limited her. I suspect that maybe 2nd base might be an option for a lady as height is not so much an advantage but agility is. But in most other positions size matters. Even in pitching.

209:

To unpack that a little more Charlie, I'm definitely with you on the whole "space is hard" thing. If we take the most optimistic assumption, which is that modern spacecraft are the equivalent of mankind's first dugout canoes, then the equivalent of say... a diesel-powered ocean liner are several thousand years away at the very least.

So I'd guess that actual scheduled service, at a reasonable price, between Earth and... I dunno... a permanent colony on one of Saturn's moons is probably 3-5000 years away at the most optimistic bare minimum, and this assumes that nothing happens to send our society backwards* during that entire time!

The least optimistic assumption is that putting canned apes into space is akin to the transition from water to land.


* ~coughs~ Climate Change!

210:

How long before a significant number of US "normally-republican" voters realise that their party has left them?

Already happened. But they can't stand the thought of being a D. So they hang out in the un-affiliated middle voting R when they can stomach it and D when they can't.

211:

You are assuming that such developments occur at a constant rate, which is assuredly not so. To take the two big aspects:

If we had adequate AI and industrial automation, we could mine the asteroids and various plates moons and build large structures and industries, cost effectively if not quickly. The technology is claimed to be just around the corner, but I am dubious - however, as with computing, when and if it happens, it will develop fast.

We simply do not know how well habitat-scale (sq. km of 'surface') ecologies would work, and how well humans would adapt to them. Any claim that they would or would not is simply hot air.

But, unless there is an incredible breakthrough in physics, I can't see that there would be much human traffic between Earth and Saturn's moons, simply because it would take so long. Putting up with a two year trip to emigrate is one thing; doing it regularly is another.

And, as you say, all bets are off if our 'civilisation' collapses, as it may well.

212:

The problem is that multiple advancements are required - AI/automation is just one of them. I won't repeat the arguments which have been made about the difficulties of biology/botany in space, nor about power-generation, nor about any other aspect, but surviving in the asteroid belt would require multiple unexpected advancements plus their integration. I'd be thrilled to see it happen sooner, but I'll stick with thousands of years (at a minimum.)

213:

Rbt Prior # 194
What about those pupils who simply point-blank do not want any fucking thing at all to do with "team games" - like me?
Archery, fencing, horse-riding, cycling for FUN ( Emphatically not what is now called "The Lycra-lout brigade" ) country/hill-walking - not available - some on obvious cost grounds, of course.
The reason I was ( as it turned out ) fitter than all the spurts loonies, was that between the ages of 11 & 18, I was cycling 5 miles a day, every day. And I think that "training" has lasted all my life, probably.

EC # 202
Ever come across a book called: "Cows, Pigs, Wars & Witches"?
There's also the problem that in the "Middle East" Pigs are a food-competitor with people ... but not in N Europe, of course, where, historically, you turn them loose in a "forest" & let them rootle for stuff you, humans, can't eat.
This comes down to a standard "religion-problem" - "$_Thing" was a good partial practice in 500BCE ... but now we know why this was so & we can avoid the problem entirely by doing "$_Modern-food-preparation" governed by increased knowledge.
So, time to dump the outdated practice ... which happens, now to be "Holy word of BigSkyFairy". Oops.

# 204 - Me too!
You might be surprised, but the events during & after the Sarah Everard vigil enraged me.
Also, I caught a distinct whiff of Niemöller there (*) - couple that with the proposed & totally unnecessary "Police & Crime bill" - & there was also a flavour of the Soviet saying: "You today, me tomorrow".
No thanks.

(*) LEST WE FORGET THIS:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

214:

I remember what that sort of remark was being made about the limitations of software! You have misunderstood my point.

For example, power generation is a solved problem - IF the AI/automation is good enough that we can mine the materials, make and install the turbines or solar cells, and maintain and build replacements for the automated machines themselves. No, you do not need Von Neumann machines for that, but you need what 'AI' and mechanical automation are hyped-up to be capable of, not what they currently are. And, yes, that would take time.

And I don't see what difficulty there is in doing biology or botany in space as such. Yes, you need gravity (rotation), radiation protection and normal atmospheric conditions etc., but those are also solved problems - again, given the AI/automation assumption. I agreed that establishing a viable ecology IS an unsolved problem, but we don't actually know how hard it is on a habitat scale.

215:

I agreed that establishing a viable ecology IS an unsolved problem, but we don't actually know how hard it is on a habitat scale.

Which reminds me... I just read another article that says available evidence indicates Musk really, truly, wants to establish people on Mars in hectokiloperson numbers. Dozens to hundreds per ship.

If so, one would think he has in mind some method for keeping them alive en route and at the destination. Has anyone seen what that might be?

216:

What about those pupils who simply point-blank do not want any fucking thing at all to do with "team games" - like me?

Well, it's not mandatory like it apparently was in your day, so that's a step in the right direction.

The big problem with competitive sports (whether individual or team) as a means to fitness is that as currently set up those kids that need them the least (because they are already fit/interested/trained) get the most resources dropped on them, because that's the way you train winners. While those kids that need the most support (because they are unfit/uninterested/untrained) get cut early and pushed out (because if they participate their side won't win).

What school athletics should be doing is helping kids find and learn activities that will keep them fit and healthy well into adulthood. The current system is designed to weed out the kids that really need help finding activities they enjoy in favour of allocating resources to kids that already know what they enjoy and are already good at it.

217:

the anatomy of ladies (bone layout) means they throw and run a bit differently that the men. Now add to that that most don't play baseball (or football) while growing up and then you get really bad throwing motions unless they take up a sport that requires throwing.

The Mythbusters did an episode on that, where they told their test subjects to throw with their off hand (i.e. left hand for right handed persons) and the gender difference pretty much vanished IIRC. That being said with all the caveats for small sample size and Mythbusters being a TV show with limited resources etc.

218:

Yes, but the point is that no matter who says what about them or who is looking at them, they are not, and can never become or provide, a useful gamma shield for spaceships. It is not possible to arrange atoms of light elements on a molecular scale in a way that makes them greatly more opaque to gammas. Stopping gammas takes mass, and making the mass more effective is only to be achieved by concentrating its density on the vastly smaller nuclear scale, which in practical terms means having it in the form of the nuclei of heavy elements. If you want to do it using light elements you need a much thicker shield regardless of what compounds those elements are assembled into. Melanin is only opaque at wavelengths which are long enough to be stopped by the walls without any extra help; at gamma wavelengths it is as nebulous as any other organic compound.

The fungi are not intercepting an unduly large proportion of the gamma radiation; what they are doing that's interesting is making constructive use of the energy from the minor proportion that does interact with them. Melanin is part of a system to deal with damaging radiation that evolved to deal with the wavelengths you get from sunlight, and at those wavelengths its opacity is highly significant, but it has other significant functions in that system too, importantly, hoovering up reactive radiogenic chemical crud before it damages anything that matters. Hoovering up reactive crud releases energy, and these fungi have specialised in making that energy useful.

They are also interesting in being able to survive in a high radiation environment where they can no longer deflect the shellfire and have to cope solely by clearing up the mess it makes fast enough. I suspect this has a lot to do with fungi being basically weird in ways which Heteromeles will know far more about than I do. For instance I believe they manage their genetic material in a manner involving a lot more distribution and redundancy than normal organisms do, which potentially allows them to do better error correction.

219:

Rbt Prior
And, if, going to-&-from school they are cycling 5 miles a day ( Or some other equivalent ), every day, then they are NOT GOING TO NEED any sports or "activities" to keep them fit & healthy, are they?

220:

We give kids tutors, etc... depending on the school, and the decade since WWII.

I assure you that there are *plenty* of schools in the US - pretty much all in Black/Ethnic/lower working class where social promotion is a thing, and they're taught with the idea that maybe some of them will get a job in a warehouse, and the rest will die by the time they're 32.

I let my son drop out of a high school in Chicago - one a friend had attended in the sixties, and back then, was really good - but only because we had a friend on the board of an ACCREDITED distance learning school The school he dropped out of was 80% Black/Hispanic. Let me assure you, for example, and speaking as someone with a B.Sc in computer & information science, that a typing course, suitable for people training to be clerks in 1930-1070, IS NOT A COMPUTER COURSE, and it was the *only* course they claimed was a computer course. And that was 1997 or so.

221:

On intercity buses (i.e., Grayhound/Trailways) smoking was limited to the last 5, I think, rows of the bus.

Or, remembering the time I took Grayhound for 72? 74? hours from SF to Philly in 1975, after the NASFiC in LA, as the new driver who got on in Omaha announced, "No pipes, cigars, or marajuana."

He'd heard about the evening before....

222:

SJW...

Ok, not sure how far outside the US this spread, but some of you know the story of why Tony Weiskopf is no longer GoH for this year's Worldcon.

I read the original post by the turkey that resulted in that, and in the shutdown for undeclared time of Baen's Bar. I keep meaning to write a post tearing it up, given how much it FAILS to report (how big is the problem, is it everywhere on the Bar, which was a multi-threaded site, etc). He did mention one person, esp. guilty, of attacks.

Well, on faceplant a night or two ago, following up a subthread started by Eric Flint, I ran into Tom Kratman.

We got into shouting and name-calling... then, in response to my posting the pic that's been floating around the 'Net for years (a group of antifa about to disrupt a gathering of white supremeciets, pic from inside a landing craft on D-Day), he went off. I responded moderately... and he utterly lost it.

Between that post - which faceplant removed before I could respond

223:

Re Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches, Marvin Harris, mid-seventies. Sitting on a shelf in the room I'm in.

The only thing wrong with it was the last chapter, where he goes after us hippies... and fails to realized he's doing *exactly* what he describes others doing in a number of incidents (esp. the Pharisees).

224:

Allen Thomson @ 214: If so, one would think he has in mind some method for keeping them alive en route and at the destination. Has anyone seen what that might be?"

I've searched the Web and have found nothing, but I can guess one of them:

Smoke detectors, hidden in the best places to catch smokers trying to get a puff.

225:

I filter results from Mythbusters through a considerable mass of sodium chloride. I tried watching a few of them because it's the sort of thing that could be really interesting if they did it well. Turned out it was possible to predict exactly what results they were going to get from seeing what they cocked up in their basic arrangements and premises, and it was impossible to watch in polite company due to the overwhelming urge to shout things like "No no no no no you fucking dick" at the screen every couple of minutes. Their experimental design to test a premise, and their engineering of the apparatus, were both so fucking awful that the results really didn't tell you anything of use.

226:

The idea that sprots lessons necessarily involve activity and provide exercise is fallacious anyway. I simply acquired great skill in standing around doing nothing while looking like I wasn't, and other abilities of a like nature. I got more exercise from the one day a week I had to catch the train home from the station which was a long way away up a big bastard hill instead of the one which was nearby and on the flat than I ever did in a sprots lesson.

227:

Ah, Tank Marmot...

228:

But back to my daughter. She played a variation of baseball from aged 5 (T-Ball) to aged 17 when she left for a year in Germany for her final year of high school. Every summer. And in high school (grades 9-12) she did a stint on a softball team and 2 years of JV soccer goalie.

So she was an experienced and flexible athlete. Her wider hips just made some throwing motions different. Not as big as in comedy movies or TV but it was still there. And she knew it. And was still better at turning a double play than most guys. And could nail someone trying to stretch a single into a double when playing the outfield. And except for the occasional batting cage, she didn't practice. Note the last 2 or 3 years was with 90 foot bases and pitchers throwing over 80mph.

When she got to high school she though about trying out for the baseball team. She mentioned it enough that the word got around and would likely have caused some political upheavals if she tried out and showed up some of the guys. After some long talks about it with me and some others we knew who had kids on the team she decided against it. My point was that I would back her fully with all the politics but she had to commit to practicing on her own such that she got better than her casual ability. She decided against it.

So she went out for softball and was the best all around player on the team. Coach admitted it after a couple of games as she was doing infield shifts and directing the other girls who had never known of the concept. But the crazy coach wanted her on the JV and would not let her play on the varsity. And she purely hated that season. Her team mates had absolutely no interest in getting better or even trying to win. The next year the new coach (former JV coach after old coach was fired due to, ahem, ....) asked her to come back to the team and play any position she wanted. But she declined. Spent the next 2 years playing JV soccer goalie after never having played before. But all those years of baseball fielding did her good in blocking incoming shots.

229:

Left half in football and I forget now which rugby position was easiest to idle in. Second or third year we could opt for hockey in the winter terms, much to the exasperation of the games teacher who took it because we were all doing it to avoid the 'enthusiasm' of the other games.

I get the impression that a lot of people are missing the fact that this was a normal lesson, not something extra. In my secondary school it involved four classes at a time, so around 60 boys (and 60 girls off doing their equivalent) for a double period (~80 minutes minus changing time) every week. Three football matches (could usually scrape the 11 a side, classes were a bit over 30) in the autumn term and two rugby (15 a side) in the 'spring' term. Summer term was athletics and cricket though I forget exactly how that was split.

If anyone was good enough for the school team that was after hours, and the PE staff weren't above blackmail ("We'll write a letter saying you're doing badly academically because of the time you spend with the village team") if someone was playing for their village kids team but not the school team.

230:

Simon Farnsworth @ 200: If you search for "Multi-Skills Development in Sport", you should find resources that help you show it to colleagues. There are several UK bodies that issue "level 2 certificates" in multi-skills coaching, and some of them should have syllabuses for their training.

Seems to me this whole thread about sports is conflating an extra-curricular activity (participating in sport on a school team) with physical education. They're not the same thing.

At every school I ever attended, extra-curricular sports were purely voluntary activities. If you wanted to play sports-ball, you went out for the team. But you did not have to if you weren't interested.

Physical education OTOH was a required class. You had to participate, but it was as much education as it was sports. When I was in school phys-ed included "Health" ('birds 'n beez IYKWIM) I was in that age cohort where schools taught that stuff & it wasn't that abstinence only) bullshit, although they did encourage, strongly encouraged "waiting until you are older" (at least age 35).

And there are all the other things that go along with school sports - Marching Band, Cheerleaders, Pep Club ... none of which required you to play on the sports-ball team. Also, other sports that are not sports-ball - track & field.

My schools didn't field gymnastics teams, but there was a side horse, a set of parallel bars & mats for tumbling, and everyone got exposed to them in gym-class.

Not to mention RECESS - which didn't really have anything to do with sports, it was just to get the kids outside to blow off some steam after lunch; get the energy flowing so the kids would be alert for afternoon classes. But there was always a bag of softballs, bats, gloves and you could be chosen for one side or the other AND THE OTHER KIDS HAD TO LET YOU PLAY TOO ... but you didn't have to. You could go climb a tree or just sit under one and read a book. The only requirement was you had to be outdoors.

231:

On another topic entirely ...
It seems that the electricity consumption of the PRC, which has very "cheap" juice, is going up & up ... because of Bitcoin "mining" - to the poin that it's becoming dangerous, as in GW dangerous.
I wonder if "Satoshi" is actually a PRC heist on everybody else?

"PE was a required class" - yes, I know - if anything that was worse than the team spurts. Mainly because our place's PE teacher was ex-Army & a total shit .... to the point that, 30 years later, the PE/sports main teacher at the school I was teaching at, remembered him as an awful example ... (!)

233:

With the inevitable "almost lost due to a stupid liberal" scene. I haven't read the book, but I know it's there.

234:

In all fairness, it was John Ringo who came up with these particular evil aliens that are simultaneously stupid and overwhelmingly powerful. And given the initial material, bringing in the SS was not much of a stretch.

235:

Re sports, recalling physical education classes several decades ago in (US) high school, they were co-ed. My favorite was playing a few times with members of the school's female field hockey team. Since I did not have developed skills (and they as athletes did), they had me goal keeping. (I had raw talent for that, at least.) The (annoying) male aggression was interestingly absent. Volleyball was also good, approximately 50-50 M/F.
High speed physical interactions with other sentients and their controlled (physical) artifacts require important skills. E.g. driving in traffic, walking in/through crowds, (physical) situational awareness. Non-individual physical sports do teach those skills, to the extent that there is transfer of learning. (That includes martial arts(various) sparring, perhaps dance though music is seldom synced with optimal motions in physical reality.)

236:

Re sports, recalling physical education classes several decades ago in (US) high school, they were co-ed.

In my upper secondary (comparable to high school, but that's the official translation), we had five study periods each year, and could choose courses for each of them, with some restrictions. One of the rules was that we had to take one PE course during each year (of which there were 2-4, but three was the most common). The classes were separated by gender, but I think the last year course many of the girls decided they don't want the girls' class, and came to the boys' class instead. (I don't wonder, I understood that they got bored by the aerobics on each course...)

We could also basically decide together what we wanted to do. We then played volleyball for most of the class, and I don't think anybody was either too good or too bad for it. We all got better during the six weeks or so, and had fun. I think everybody had the rudiments of volleyball from the comprehensive school, at least I don't remember we spending a lot of time on technique.

That was one of the rare times I liked playing team sports in school. On the seventh or eight grade basketball was fun, but mostly because I was tall enough that when I got the ball I could hold it high and nobody else could get it from me.

237:

THIS - Brazilian doctors are practically screaming for help & commenting that new variants, often even more vicious are emreging ... & Bolsanaro does ... nothing.
The Great Filter is ... stupidity?

238:

“ Firstly, we do NOT know if there can be long-term carriers (even asymptomatic ones), though there is some evidence that there may be. “

Given how extremely successful my country has been at keeping COVID out, I believe your “some evidence” claim is overly mild.

If a long-term carrier had entered NZ, we’d know. Only 2500 cases have come into NZ, but we know a lot about those cases (including DNA analysis of all all the viruses since the first peak) and zero have been long term carriers.

239:

The big hazard isn't so much your own stupidity, it's whether you're living with stupid people.

#191: In re girls being encouraged to take up football: I have a notion that people are being pushed to take up bad traits of both genders, with men becoming excessively concerned with their appearances and women becoming excessively ambitious.

There's a book called _The Armored Rose_ about teaching women SCA fighting, and it says there are some joint differences (typically-- 10% overlap) between men and women. I don't remember the difference in hips, but there's a gender difference about the default angle for the knuckles compared to the wrist, with men much more likely to have them parallel and women more likely to have the knuckles angling down towards the little finger.

(Pointless achievement unlocked: getting a bunch of people to look at the back of their fists.)

The joint differences matter because if you train for a joint structure you don't have, you're more likely to get injured.

There was also something about men generally being able to rev up for competition more quickly than women. I should reread the book.

The differences didn't make women less capable, but it was important for a teacher to know how to handle them. It occurs to me that a teacher knowing how to do this means there's a small proportion of men who will also get more appropriate training.

240:

Several diseases almost always run their course, but occasionally long-term carriers develop, and even 0.01% would be enough to cause havoc with herd immunity in a densely populated city (which you don't have, either). Also, it's likely to be variant-dependent. So we simply don't know yet.

241:

Nancy L
Or, even worse, arrogantly stupid people in charge.
We all think of IQ45, but Bolsanaro & also Xi Jinping qualify, as well.
Let's not get into those places where prayer & magic potions are rife, shall we?

EC
Wellington is fairly dense & Auckland, these days, isn't a diffuse as it used to be.

242:

"Pigs were classed as unclean because they competed with humans for food" is a pretty dubious claim, in the first place. It's possible, certainly, but was it the case?

In a survival situation (which would have been common), such animals are the first to be slaughtered and are only kept if there are ample resources; they simply wouldn't have become a widespread domestic animal. Also Mesopotamia in Abraham's time was very different to today. There are several other possible explanations (including the zoonose one), which are equally or more plausible; we simply don't know.

Also, in the Pentateuch as I know it, the only reference to swine is as an example of cloven-footed, non-cud-chewing animals, following the camel and hare; there's no evidence it was selected out. That also militates against the theory that they were unclean because they were carriers of zoonoses, of course.

If I had to guess, it would be a tribal matter, quite possibly between farmers and herders - which has an even earlier reference :-)

243:

Hours of the day are social constructs.

That there are 24 is because of Babylonian religious beliefs. That they remain the same length despite days getting longer and shorter is a social choice (and 2,000 years ago people chose differently). There is no physical property of three o’clockness, which changes when you cross a county line in Indiana to a different time zone.

My point is that while social constructs certainly can be ill defined and vague, not all are. Races can be quite precisely defined and still be a social construct - an oddly arbitrary way people divide up the world because of historical and cultural reasons, with no particular scientific reason to do it that way.

244:

Since this thread started with April Fools' Day, now might be a good time to link to an amusing article in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/apr/07/jordan-peterson-shocked-by-captain-america-villain-espousing-10-rules-for-life

245:

We give kids tutors, etc... depending on the school, and the decade since WWII.

I thought I made it clear that I'm talking about the schools I've worked in, so this-century Ontario (specifically Toronto, although I have anecdotes from other parts of Ontario).

American schools are different*. For one thing, I think a lot of them pay coaches (because I keep hearing American teachers talk about a 'coaches stipend'). In Canada coaching and other activities are voluntary and unpaid.

*Although less so if Ford pushes through his plans for privatization.

246:

Brazilian doctors are practically screaming for help & commenting that new variants, often even more vicious are emreging ... & Bolsanaro does ... nothing

Ontario doctors have been doing that for weeks, and Ford's response was to finally close restaurants for in-person dining on Saturday, but to keep schools and shopping malls open.

On Alberta Kenney has said that there's no point in restrictions because people will just ignore them so fights enforcing the limited ones they have.

Brazil doesn't have a lock on governmental stupidity, sadly.

247:

R Prior
From what you've said previously, I assume Kenney/Alberta is a right-wing nutjob - is Ford/Ontario another one of the same? Except I've just looked him up & he doesn't seem quite as mad as many ...

248:

Peterson says:

Do I really live in a universe where Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a Captain America comic featuring a parody of my ideas as part of the philosophy of the arch villain Red Skull?
But actually Coates doesn't have to parody Peterson's ideas -- the Red Skull just quotes Peterson, no parody is needed.

249:

"But actually Coates doesn't have to parody Peterson's ideas -- the Red Skull just quotes Peterson, no parody is needed."

Don't you just hate it when someone quotes your exact words and makes you look like a complete plonker?

250:

Elderly Cynic @ 241: If I had to guess, [unclean animal rules] would be a tribal matter, quite possibly between farmers and herders

It's not just animals; Judaism has a load of rules about ritual cleanliness. Animals are only one part of it.

Reading these rules, I get the distinct impression that some high priest in ancient Israel suffered from OCD, mistook his compulsions for the Will of God, and insisted that everyone else had to do the same.

So why would someone with OCD have a thing about pork being unclean? Maybe this would explain it.

251:

I assume Kenney/Alberta is a right-wing nutjob - is Ford/Ontario another one of the same?

IMHO Ford isn't a nutjob.

He's a right-wing populist. One of his election promises was to bring cheap beer to corner stores. He holds grudges and uses the power of his office to pay them back (although not as much as Harris did). He's second-generation wealthy, and actually got his father and brother into politics so he could have more freedom running the family business, then got jealous when they began getting popular acclaim and got into politics himself. He listens to his friends and business cronies more than experts, which is why Ontario's response is so screwed up. (He did well enough at the beginning when he was listening to medical advice.)

So not as bad as Trump or Kenney, but a man in over his head and apparently unable or unwilling to adapt.

252:
Don't you just hate it when someone quotes your exact words and makes you look like a complete plonker?

Yeah, it might make you think... but no, this is Peterson we're talking about.

253:

I know that, but doubt very much that the rules were the result of one priest with OCD. Recent history shows that when one tribe takes against another, it will define rules that forbid things commonly done in the other tribe but not in its own. The demonisation of cannabis, dreadlocks/'afro hairstyles', hijabs and others are very recent examples. It is far more likely that two tribes in Mesopotamia were in conflict, and the Abrahamites codified a mixture of sane rules and (prejudicial) differences in custom.

254:

Someone might have noticed that eaters of pork had more heath issues than those who didn't. Without complete cooking and good processes for curing and/or refrigeration (not in the middle east 3000 years ago) eating pork can give people cross over diseases.

Plus pigs seem to have no qualms about eating from the sewage pit when hungry. Which might turn off some folks.

255:

Re: 'The fungi are not intercepting an unduly large proportion of the gamma radiation; what they are doing that's interesting is making constructive use of the energy from the minor proportion that does interact with them.'

Thanks - really appreciate your explanation!

256:

Putting Peterson's words in the mouth of the Red Skull means at least one Marvel supervillain is a plausibly banal personification of evil; the hilarity was Peterson's inability (via twitter) to comprehend just why anyone might want to do that.

257:

Sign-in issues!

Got logged out/off the comment section automatically after my last comment post and tried to re-log into comments several times - no go.

Closed the window, opened a new window, came back to antipope.org, re-logged into the Commenting section (re-entered username & password) and after the second attempt made it here! (At one time I did see a short message that my log-in didn't take.)

Reason for the above detail is to (maybe) help identify the problem. (Also: I'm currently using Chromebook - and have no idea whether their latest update is partially to blame.)

258:

"I think I've said enough. Watch on the Rhine is so breathtakingly full of shit that it's possible a single copy, appropriately mulched, could fertilize enough arable land to end African famine for the next four centuries"
from a review...

btw, IIRC the Darhel are explicitely compared to Jews according to the anti-semite stereotype in another novel: bankers, masterminding from behind the curtain, ruthless

259:

Did you use https instead of http?

That is, access this blog with https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/. I have problems with logging in if I use http only.

(Also, apparently annoyingly my Chrome doesn't display the "https://www." portion of the URL...)

260:

Re: 'Also, in the Pentateuch ... swine'

I wonder whether there was some sort of disease that affected swine and humans and the authorities made a cause-effect guess.

Pigs have shown up several times through history as likely organ/tissue transplant sources and are still of interest esp. as sources of pancreatic islets for Type 1 Diabetes.

'A brief history of cross-species organ'
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246856/

And like AI, jet packs, etc. - the perfectly safe xenotransplant is just around the corner - only 15-30 years away.


BTW - another round of getting kicked out after posting, multiple sign-in attempts, etc.


261:

Meanwhile & possibly very importantly..
A mix-up among the Muons

262:
You'll note that the link between sports and the military is near-universal and crops up in the most unexpected places.
Norman Dixon makes this point in detail in "The Psychology of Military Incompetence." Some of his psychological theory is out of date, but if you can get past the Freudian terminology, it's well worth the read.
263:

I may just have read that book years ago ...

264:

Oh. Since I knew nothing about him, I hadn't looked.

Ghu. And since Ringo is willing to put his name on this crap....

265:

Given the most feared assignment, from what I've read, in the Nazi army was the *eastern* front, why not revive the Red Army?

Because the authors, esp. Kratman, are literal fascists, I see.

266:

Well, there assuredly are such diseases, but I was pointing out that swine were NOT singled out in the way that most people seem to think nowadays; that's a modernist interpretation. Leviticus chapters(*) 1-10 are mostly about ritual and sacrifices, but chapter 7 forbids the eating of fat and blood. It's only chapter 11 that classifies animals into clean and unclean, and the order goes camel, coney(!), hare and swine, and a lot of things afterwards.

There's a repetition of that in Deuteronomy 14, but those are the ONLY references to swine in the Pentateuch; if it were singularly unclean, I would expect more prominence. Later authorities (Jewish and other) added their own slants, of course, but that's irrelevant to the origin of the rules.

(*) Yes, I know that they were added by Christians, but they are useful.
(!) Which may well mean hyrax, not rabbit.

267:

Oh? I thought that as part of the Brexit deal, every day of the year was declared Fool's Day in the UK?

268:

Oh, hell, I thought that everybody knew that the fifth force of matter was perversity!

269:

I was active in the SCA from late '75 through '81 or '82. Fought heavy. Fastest I ever saw someone qualify as ready to fight was 3-4 weeks, and *she* was not only at fighter practice both days/week, but several other days, every week - she wanted to fight at Pennsic.

270:

Saw that - so, a villain espousing a villainous agenda. Like John Galt, or IQ 45.

One reason I've never quite gotten why folks like/emulate villains. I prefer the good guys.

271:

In chrome desktop (and maybe related browsers?) right click on the address bar. A pulldown will appear, and you can toggle "Always show full URLs".
Not sure about current chrome behavior but the EFF "HTTPS Everywhere" extension will allow you to add a rule for https-ing a site, including this one.
Don't know of anything on tablet/phone chrome; chrome://flags has a bunch of stuff, but nothing obvious.

272:

Regards Red Skull:

One of the things that killed the KKK’s support was Superman.

Back when he fought crime, not just supervillains, the popular Superman radio show started having episodes where he fought against the criminal white-hooded racist menace. They leaned into the Krazy KKK Knight Kommander silly titles, and made the KKK buffoons with silly names that kids laughed at when they heard the radio show.

As one ex-KKK member put it: who wants to be part of a group that your kids are laughing at?

273:

Just got my AstraZeneca jab. Due for second shot after July 28. Really hoping that the longer-than-recommended delay doesn't bugger the effectiveness of the second dose.

I did look, but couldn't find anything saying that it has been tested — just parallels with other vaccines that have long intervals before the second dose, and concerns that the older you are the more important that second dose is.

274:

Since it came up, here's the start of a truly splendid takedown/revue of Watch on the Rhine- https://www.reddit.com/r/ShitWehraboosSay/comments/d1vidb/the_scolar_visari_memorial_book_club_103_watch_on/

Very strongly recommended, if you have the time.

275:

As I understand it there are listed a couple of criteria for a clean animal (cloven hoof and being a ruminant) and swine fails b/c they don't chew their cud.

H Turtledove's "The R-Strain" has a funny take on this with a geneticist who develops a strain of ruminant swine (and the follow up question he gets if the meat is kosher or not)

If I'm not totally mistaken Islam has a more straightforward ban on eating swine (even if muslims living in the west often don't take that hard on the rule "I know it's Haram but it tastes so good!" as an egyptian friend of mine says...)

276:

Back in the day when Superman was really Superrman. I have a collection of early daily newspaper strips, up through around '41. One of the villains he takes on is a slumlord.

277:

Geezer-with-a-hat
A few threads back we had a short discussion about: Fried/Grilled BACON BUTTIES ..
As Charlie said: "Food of the Gods"
{ Even better inside one of my home-made Pain Ordinaire mix bread-rolls for breakfast. }

278:

At every school I attended (I was a London-based child), PE *was* team sports. So was "Games". There were extracurricular sports teams, too, which played against other schools, but the curriculum for PE at the time had a heavy emphasis on playing team sports for all the benefits they give you.

Now, I'm noticeably younger than Greg, and things were better in my day than in Greg's (not least because corporal punishment was outlawed in state funded education by the time I reached compulsory schooling), but the "Health" curriculum was part of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education, not PE.

Marching Band, Cheerleaders, Pep Club are all things that didn't exist in England at the time (and still don't in most schools) - you did team sports of some sort in PE, not those American things. Track and Field was a team sport, too, albeit not a ball sport - teachers would set up teams (in my schools, by taking the achievement records from the last sports event, and splitting us up into teams of comparable ability levels), and you would compete in your team.

Further, gymnastics was a team sport in PE; all of your team had to complete a certain amount of each exercise individually before anyone on the team could move onto the next exercise. Teachers encouraged the faster members of the team to "help and encourage" the slower members - you can guess how this turns out when the teachers reaction to bullying is "well, you should be going faster".

Basically, "PE" was the same as your extra-curricular sports, but only within the school; extra-curricular sports were against other schools, but were otherwise the same thing as extra-curricular sports.

I think perhaps you can see why Greg has such a big thing against school PE - imagine if it were 2 hours/week of compulsory extra-curricular sports only, often with teachers who deliberate set up "good at $sport" versus "bad at $sport". Thankfully, it's changed for my children.

Recess (or "break" as well called it) is the only context we have in common here.

279:

Uncle Stinky @ 273: "Very strongly recommended, if you have the time."

I read it and prefer the article in Wikipedia instead. It's more focused. But the cited review in "Publisher's Weekly" does seem impossible.

280:

The data I saw indicated that a longer interval is actually better, though the number of people that had a gap as long as yours was small.

281:

the number of people that had a gap as long as yours was small

That number will go up. Apparently 'up to 16 weeks' is the new second-dose guideline for Canada, so all the provinces seem to be treating 16 weeks as the new target.

Given that there also seems to be indications that, at least for the mRNA vaccines, the protection of a single dose begins decreasing after three months, I really hope things get sorted out.


*Yeah, I know, but that's what they are claiming when talking to our government.

282:

Simon Farnsworth
The only way half-out of it was to partially "Schweik" it - & to be so bad & useless at any of it, that "they" would (mostly) leave you alone for fear of you being included in "their" team ....
I also had a *cough* fortunate break in the last year (Age 13-14, i.e."3rd-form" ) when I developed a rare & particularly nasty form of giant multi-headed boil/furuncle/carbuncle on my right leg ... which excluded me from football & most sports for 4 months. Well worth the bandages & the stink. ( Just as well I didn't get serious blood-poisoning, though )

283:

Mikko Parviainen (he/him) @ 235:

Re sports, recalling physical education classes several decades ago in (US) high school, they were co-ed.

Not where I went to school. Might have been fun

In my upper secondary (comparable to high school, but that's the official translation), we had five study periods each year, and could choose courses for each of them, with some restrictions. One of the rules was that we had to take one PE course during each year (of which there were 2-4, but three was the most common). The classes were separated by gender, but I think the last year course many of the girls decided they don't want the girls' class, and came to the boys' class instead. (I don't wonder, I understood that they got bored by the aerobics on each course...)

We could also basically decide together what we wanted to do. We then played volleyball for most of the class, and I don't think anybody was either too good or too bad for it. We all got better during the six weeks or so, and had fun. I think everybody had the rudiments of volleyball from the comprehensive school, at least I don't remember we spending a lot of time on technique.

That was one of the rare times I liked playing team sports in school. On the seventh or eight grade basketball was fun, but mostly because I was tall enough that when I got the ball I could hold it high and nobody else could get it from me.

Our school system divided High School & Junior High School. Ninth grade should have been nominally the first year of High School, but was instead the last year of Junior High. Still, it was the first year where you were allowed to choose which courses you wanted to take - subject to required classes & approval from the school. I think I've mentioned before that I tried to sign up for French for my foreign language requirement and was denied; told that I was going to take Latin.

Backstory: My father became "Chairman of the School Board" while I was in Junior High. I attended the same Junior High School my father had attended 30+ years earlier. He took Latin and it was the same Latin teacher. Every time she saw me she made comparisons to what a good student my father had been ... with the suggestion I wasn't performing up to his standards. After he died I saw his report cards while going through his things - we were both B-average students.

She was also the one teacher who always called me "Johnny", which is NOT my name!

Anyway ... all of our classes were coed except for Gym Class (Phys-Ed) and Shop/Home Economics. Shop & Home Economics were interesting because for one six-week report card period we got swapped. Boys took Home-Ec and girls took Shop. I don't know how much the girls enjoyed Shop class, but the boys hated Home-Ec ... except me, I learned to cook and sew well enough to serve me in later life.

The thing that was kind of peculiar about Gym class was if you took it in the ninth grade, you only had to take one year to meet the course requirements. If you waited until High School proper to take it, you had to take two years to meet the course requirements.

284:

Robert Prior @ 244:

We give kids tutors, etc... depending on the school, and the decade since WWII.

I thought I made it clear that I'm talking about the schools I've worked in, so this-century Ontario (specifically Toronto, although I have anecdotes from other parts of Ontario).

American schools are different*. For one thing, I think a lot of them pay coaches (because I keep hearing American teachers talk about a 'coaches stipend'). In Canada coaching and other activities are voluntary and unpaid.

*Although less so if Ford pushes through his plans for privatization.

Speaking only for the American schools I attended. In Junior High "the coach" was the full time Physical EDUCATION teacher who also coached the school teams (football, basketball, baseball). There was another teacher who coached the track & field team, but I don't remember what course he taught.

In High School, there was a "coach" and several assistants. Again the coach & some of his assistants were Physical EDUCATION teachers. The assistant Basketball Coach was the full time Boys Guidance Counselor who also taught math. I had him for Geometry, which just sparked a memory ... his wife was an English teacher and the full time Girls Guidance Counselor. I had her for English the same year I had him for Geometry.

285:

Marino_bib @ 257:

"I think I've said enough. Watch on the Rhine is so breathtakingly full of shit that it's possible a single copy, appropriately mulched, could fertilize enough arable land to end African famine for the next four centuries"
from a review...

btw, IIRC the Darhel are explicitely compared to Jews according to the anti-semite stereotype in another novel: bankers, masterminding from behind the curtain, ruthless

I read the books long ago, but as I remember it, it's clear that the stereotype was a falsehood when applied to Jews, but perhaps not when applied to the Darhel.

I also remember in "Watch on the Rhine" the former SS members are enlisted as a suicide squadron, allowed to redeem themselves for their former crimes. Not to justify, but to atone.

286:

I read the books long ago, but as I remember it, it's clear that the stereotype was a falsehood when applied to Jews, but perhaps not when applied to the Darhel.

Clear as a matter of the author's intent in the text?

287:

In High School, there was a "coach" and several assistants. Again the coach & some of his assistants were Physical EDUCATION teachers. The assistant Basketball Coach was the full time Boys Guidance Counselor who also taught math. I had him for Geometry, which just sparked a memory ... his wife was an English teacher and the full time Girls Guidance Counselor. I had her for English the same year I had him for Geometry.

I used to be told by phys ed teachers that while they don't have marking they have to coach, so our workloads were balanced. Then I added up how many teams were coached by teachers who were not phys ed teachers but were teaching subjects like math and science — and hey, most teams were coached by non-phys-ed teachers.

I don't know if things used to be different, but in the three decades I've been teaching here the majority of coaches haven't been phys ed teachers. I find it amusing that phys ed teachers who weren't born when I started teaching take for granted things that they could easily see aren't true — except that admitting that would mean admitting that they have an easier job than the rest of us*.

(I wonder if one reason a disproportionate number of administrators are ex-phys-ed teachers is that they are the ones who have spare time to work on their careers?)


*At my first school I had a friend who was split science/phys ed. She always claimed that each was the same amount of work, just different kinds of work. Then one year she wanted to go on a teacher exchange to Australia and to make it work the principal gave her a full phys ed timetable**. When she got back a month early and taught the rest of the year she kept going on about how great this was, she had time to have a social life, catch up with her friends, etc. When I pointed out that the only difference was that she wasn't teaching science any more she admitted that yes, teaching science was much more work than teaching phys ed.

**A lot more Australian phys ed teachers wanted to go on an exchange than science teachers.

289:

Anyway ... all of our classes were coed except for Gym Class (Phys-Ed) and Shop/Home Economics. Shop & Home Economics were interesting because for one six-week report card period we got swapped. Boys took Home-Ec and girls took Shop. I don't know how much the girls enjoyed Shop class, but the boys hated Home-Ec ... except me, I learned to cook and sew well enough to serve me in later life.

My classes were coed except the PE classes, and in some cases those were coed, too - more in the early and late classes.

We had Home Economics, which was coed, too - it was probably one of the classes which are still useful for everybody every day. Our shop type things were divided into "shop" and "textile work" (sewing, crotcheting, knitting). It began on the third grade and everybody had one or the other for a period (maybe two months?) and then we had to choose. In my classes all boys took shop and all girls took textile work, but I know some women who did take the shop classes.

Then, on the seventh grade we had I think half a year of each, and then for the grades 8-9 both were electives. I took the shop class then, it was fun, though for some reason I didn't do that much work there.

Nowadays, there's only one subject for that, compulsory again I think to the seventh grade, and everybody learns the basics of both wood and metal work, sewing and crotcheting.

I did learn knitting later in life and I'm disappointed I didn't learn it earlier.

290:

This is the first I've seen Xi described as stupid, rather than arrogant and destructive. He *could* screw up China by overextending it, but I don't see anyone arguing that.

What's your line of thought?

****Some odds and ends****

Scientists are more likely to cite papers which don't have much jargon in the title and abstract-- or at least that's how it tests out in speleology

Some fast-growing treatment resistant cancers have DNA-- structured DNA-- outside of chromosomes

Chemical weapons have fallen out of use because (for modern armies), they're less effective than explosives Lots interesting there-- high tech effective militaries *require* that the government can trust low level soldiers. And the success of outlawing chemical weapons isn't because they're horrific, so there may not be hope of actually outlawing land mines.

[[ html fix - mod ]]

291:

Not Greg, but I agree with you about Xi. I'd venture that, among the problems of dictators, hubris ranks higher than most measures of intelligence. Additionally, looking at both Trump and Xi, what I'll refer to loosely as "dictator smarts" (the intuition it takes to be a successful authoritarian) not only is not measured by IQ tests, it seems to correlate rather poorly with successful governance leading to a healthy population, especially in the long term. There are various reasons for this, one big one being that there's a reason why corruption is a bad thing, and there's a reason why getting rid of potential competition by removing competent underlings is also a bad thing.

292:

Some banned chemical weapons, like tear gas, are not horrific and do less damage than bullets, shrapnel and explosives.

Their main problem is that (like the horrific nerve gases) they can be turned against the original emitter by the potential target or just by mother nature. The secondary problem is that they make hazmat-grade suits necessary at all times. It's difficult to fight a war while wearing those.

293:

Troutwaxer @ 285:

I read the books long ago, but as I remember it, it's clear that the stereotype was a falsehood when applied to Jews, but perhaps not when applied to the Darhel.

Clear as a matter of the author's intent in the text?

Yes, that's the way I remember it.

294:

Niala @ 291: Some banned chemical weapons, like tear gas, are not horrific and do less damage than bullets, shrapnel and explosives.

Their main problem is that (like the horrific nerve gases) they can be turned against the original emitter by the potential target or just by mother nature. The secondary problem is that they make hazmat-grade suits necessary at all times. It's difficult to fight a war while wearing those.

Tear gas is not a banned chemical weapon.

295:

The use of tear gas in war was banned in the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tear_gas

296:

Niala's right: Tear gas is banned on the battlefield. It's not banned for use against civilians by police. Nor is it necessarily that harmless, although compared to a true nerve agent it certainly is.

On the scale of things it's like glyphosate as an herbicide. Glyphosate is mildly carcinogenic, if you feed it to rats in the equivalent of hamburger patty-sized doses. Given its ubiquity in agriculture and home use, it has probably caused some human cancers through sheer bad luck (the one in a million cases). Used at low concentrations in highly targeted applications, it's wonderful stuff for killing otherwise unkillable weeds, but it's being sold by the gallon at high concentrations for broadcast spraying by idiots, because that's what makes money.

Tear gas and pepper spray have analogous problems with glyphosate, except that the people using the mass quantities want to get rid of left wing "weeds," as it were, while us civilians (in California at least) are left with jogger foggers and bear spray, neither of which are optimal for self defense.

297:

Nancy L
Arrogant + Destructive = Stupid - or so ISTM?
He (Xi) *seems* more "forward" than Putin, who is equally bad, but does lots of little forward-backward-&-sideways dances to keep people off-balance. Xi seems to be believing that because he is in charge of The Central Kingdom, provided it isn't a nuclear war, he can do as he damn well pleases. I think he might come unstuck if he tries it on Taiwan too hard - & even the Philippines are starting to realise that they are about to be trampled, unless ....

298:

This is the first I've seen Xi described as stupid, rather than arrogant and destructive. He *could* screw up China by overextending it, but I don't see anyone arguing that.
What's your line of thought?

Most of us "westerners" see the world differently than the rulers of China. Both our general population and leaders.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tends to see the world very different from most of our thought processes. The value internal harmony (even if at gun point), the whole over individuals (to a degree that most of us can't fathom), and that the CCP should rule China no mater what. As to elections, look at Hong Kong.

There are also the huge goals of unifying everyone they think of as ethnic Chinese (even it that means wiping out the ones who aren't wanting to be a part of such unification) and being a world power that can move the world as wished.

They have unified most all ethnic Chinese except for Taiwan. And they are not shy in stating that is a goal AND WILL BE DONE. People here said I was nuts when I predicted they would invade within 10 years. Now I think maybe sooner.

Trump has weakened the US presence in the western Pacific in many ways. And gotten a non trivial number of the US population to think we should not have any presence there. Korea, Japan, Taiwan, anything. And he wiped out our coordination exercizes in the name of saving money (it didn't) and getting that coordination and competency back takes time and commitment.

The US Navy is having a real hard time with maintaining tempo due to man power issues. And much of the fleet at the mid and small sizes is nearing or at end of life. And the US military is now based on fewer but "better" high tech weapons. China has a huge amount of "stuff" and it is based nearby. I suspect they are willing to incur losses at rates like 4:1 if they start out with 6 times as many plane/subs/whatever.

As to people saying invasion is hard. Yes it is. But just how much of that island building and the military exercises around it has been used to develop skills that can be applied?

China is facing the same demographics as many other countries. In many ways worse due to the one child policy of the past. In 10 years or so they will have to shrink the size of the PLA or start cutting back living standards of the country as a whole. Refer back to the harmony note above. Anyway this makes them think sooner rather than later.

Taiwan is in the middle of a terrible drought which is causing them a lot of non trivial headaches just now.

The next 5 years may be the "best" foreseeable window to invade in the next 50 years.

Will Xi invade? I don't know. But I don't dismiss the chance as trivial.

As to his smarts and comparing him with Trump. Trump's political smartness/dumbness is a sudden thing. And he proved spectacularly inept at actually running or finding people who could run the government. There were a LOT of conservative articles published over the last 3+ years about how badly he was at getting the right wing's goals. (Which made me happy.) Xi has spend his entire life preparing for and navigating the intricacies of climbing the ladders of power in the CCP and how to use that power to run a sprawling government in a way that "works".

Anyway, I'm not convinced that Xi will not invade Taiwan. At all. And the world would not do much about it. Mainly because there would not be much they can do.

For extra credit just how much of the $$/££/€€ value of high tech is made outside of SE Asia. And if that stopped for a year or few, tell me what the rest of the world economy looks like.

299:

We are nearly at 300 so here's an off topic question for ogh:

A couple of threads ago you mentioned a smart pen that you can use to record and upload handwriting.

Is 5he tracking good enough for drawings or does it realistically only grab derivatives suitable for glyph recognition?

I'm talking box and line type stuff with labels, not fine art.

301:

Last year Ontario's Conservative government amended the Education Act, removing the requirement for actual supervisory experience when school boards hired Directors of Education — which the government "hailed as a way to promote equity and diversity in the top position at school boards".

Today the first director hired under the new provisions quit, after one month on the job. His background was three years teaching at a private school*, and 20 years working at a bank.

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/08/new-education-director-leaves-york-catholic-school-board-after-just-one-month-on-the-job.html

White guy, obviously.

And just yesterday Ford said that no one could have seen the third wave coming, when doctors have been screaming at him for months that it was on the way, and pleading every step of the way as he systematically dropped restrictions and opened the province.

Our local Tories aren't (yet) as bad as American Republicans, but they seem well along the same path. :-(


*St Michaels College School in Toronto. The one that was in the news a couple of years ago for students assaulting and raping another student with a broom.

302:

Interesting SpaceX Stats

56 successful sea barge recoveries of first stages of Falcon launches to date.

All 10 launches this year are with boosters that have flown at least once before.

303:

The booster that launched yesterdays flight, B1058, was making its seventh flight. Its first flight was 10 months and one week earlier for the DM-2 crewed Dragon. Turnaround from its previous flight was 27 days.

304:

Police (in California and elsewhere) are also allowed to use expanding bullets against civilians, while the use of those same expanding bullets is forbidden in war.

Not just the police. Expanding bullets, sometimes known as "hollow point" are widely available for civilian use in the US.

https://www.ammunitiontogo.com/index.php/cName/9mm-hollow-point

305:

So many things were banned on grounds of Human ..Rites? Those performances that meant little to you unless you were on the receiving end of ..well until the end of his life my Grandfather received a Very Small -and not index linked - pension for the GAS injuries that he had received in the trenches during his service in the Durham Light Infantry. He was mostly a rifleman, and so - I would imagine? - didn't have to agonise over his use of Flamethrowers? Not that he would necessarily have been troubled by killing the Germans ..would it surprise you to learn that he didn't like the Germans very much?This after WW2 and the discovery of the Extermination Camps? https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/9-banned-weapons-countries-cant-use-in-modern-warfare/

306:

How long would it take the Taiwanese to ramp up their weapons program - https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/taiwan-says-has-begun-mass-production-of-long-range-missile/articleshow/81689134.cms - to deliver weapons of mass destruction? Given that nukes would be difficult? Chemical and Biological weapons?This to poison as much of Mainland Chinas productive capacity as possible?

307:

Off-topic amusement. it's late enough in the day that I went to faceplant.

It's offline.

308:

Not that he would necessarily have been troubled by killing the Germans ..would it surprise you to learn that he didn't like the Germans very much?This after WW2 and the discovery of the Extermination Camps?

My grandfather fought in WWI. Ypres, the Somme, Palestine, and Greece or the Balkans. Irish Civil War. Home Guard in WWII.

Didn't hate Germans. Or the Irish. Actual Nazis, I think yes, especially the leaders (and his opinion of Haig and certain other British officers was…pungent).

Definitely working class — I suspect my father got his Bolshie tendencies from his father.

309:

Given that nukes would be difficult?

Maybe not all that difficult if they decided to do it no matter what. They have some experience in the area:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

310:

April Fools has not been canceled. Due to COVID restrictions, it has been moved to December 15, 2021. Or April 258, 2021, if you prefer to think of it that way.

311:

I do wonder whether Professor Kingfisher experienced an uptick in Amazon sales following on from these remarks, and whether she'd have noticed (and whether Ms Vernon isn't a lurker or even regular commenter here). Certainly I bought and have been reading this book in the last few days, like it a lot too. (Also the old Dixon book... it's come up before but I grabbed it this time around).

312:

If they really stopped in the late 80s then saying they have experience is a bit of a stretch.

If you stop doing something for 30 years then most of all the expertise in the field will age out and retire. Non existent job prospects mean they aren't replaced and you effectively lose the technology at that point.

I can think of several examples of this happening in the UK.

313:

Leaving this here for Frank, though I don't want to get into another argument about this topic. Article possibly gives a bit more background on my perspective viz human "predation" for population control. And the discussion in the article notwithstanding, the *numbers* in the article should show why I have a certain perspective on the efficacy of utilising self-motivated individuals for this purpose.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-08/us-ban-commercial-shooting-kangaroo-leather-football-boots/100050994

314:

dbp
I can think of several examples of this happening in the UK.
Yeah - Building nuclear power stations. Grrrr ....
Building successful rockets & aircraft, too.

315:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 289: [Xi Jinping] *could* screw up China by overextending it, but I don't see anyone arguing that. What's your line of thought?

China is approaching, if not at, the point where it can beat anything that America can throw at it. The US still thinks of an aircraft carrier as a military asset. China thinks of them as a big fat target.

The Chinese view of the world includes "Mandate of Heaven. This is the view of history as cyclical; a ruling dynasty begins as wise and just, leading to prosperity, but over time become corrupt and greedy, leading to hard times and ultimately revolt and the replacement of the old dynasty with a new one, thus starting the cycle again.

This cycle is also reflected in world power politics; at any given time there are some people on top and some people on the bottom, but as the wheel revolves they change places. China sees the period of 1839 to 1945 as The Century of Humiliation where they were on the bottom and the West was on the top. Since then the CCP has come to power as a new political dynasty, bringing justice and harmony. Hence China has been rising while the West sinks. Soon it will be China's turn to be on the top and the West's turn to be suffering humiliation and defeat.

This is not just propaganda (although CCP propaganda certainly hooks into it); its a fundamental part of how the Chinese people view the history of the world, and the lens through which they interpret current events. It has the same mythic role as the the leather-skinned American settler taming the wild land with a gun and a plough does in the USA, or "Britannia Rules the Waves" does in the UK. It is very likely that this is how Xi Jinping views the world too.

At some point China will probably invade Taiwan, just for the propaganda value. Taiwan's industrial capability will collapse and China will need to impose an on-going military presence to keep it pacified, but that isn't the point. The point is that China is back on top, and the West is too weak to do anything effective about it. Also from the CCP point of view Taiwan is much better as a clone of Hainan than as a prosperous and democratic rebuke to Beijing.

The Mandate of Heaven contains an important insight: authoritarian systems rot from the inside out. Party apparatchiks seek to gain wealth and status, and then to pass that wealth and status on to their sons (daughters are still second class). This tendency to aristocracy is already visible and will only get worse. Enforcing party discipline with anti-corruption crack-downs won't help because a) corruption crackdowns always get diverted into kneecapping political rivals and b) the rules are written by the very apparatchiks who want to exploit them, and its not corruption if you followed the rules.

Democratic countries have the same tendencies of course, but elections and a free press tend to keep it in check. E.g. the parliamentary expenses scandal: most of the MPs pocketing the big expenses claims were playing by the rules and the real scandal was that the rules had been made deliberately lax. A corruption investigation would have concluded "nothing to see here", but voters concluded otherwise. The recent David Cameron imbroglio is similar.

So in the medium term I think the West is in for some nasty shocks as China flexes it's muscles. The loss of Taiwan and an aircraft carrier or two should focus minds, and we're probably in for another Cold War. Expect lots more electronic attacks too (in the long run this will force us to do security properly, but its going to take time to rewrite everything in Rust).

In the long term the Wheel of History will revolve once more. Democracy has a resilience that authoritarians often fail to understand, so I think we (the democratic West) will still be standing when the second Chinese Revolution breaks out.

316:

dpb: You are looking for a Livescribe Symphony.

Earlier iterations of the Livescribe pens felt a bit like trying to write with a XL-sized dildo wrapped around a crayon, but this one just about nails the sweet spot for me and if I handwrote much these days I'd be a 100% convert. Has about the same weight/dimensions as a fountain pen, only with a replaceable ballpoint element. Needs special dot-patterned paper, but you can print your own from PDFs of the pattern. Pair with a phone or laptop via bluetooth and it can squirt anything you write or draw on the dot paper into an app which can then do handwriting recognition and/or export it as docx, pdf, or whatever you need.

It's not good for fine art but if your art needs are box-and-line and you're okay with ballpoint quality, it's perfect.

317:

That sounds ideal for my needs. Thanks.

Essentially I mostly type and rarely write longhand, but if I need a diagram or schematic to help me think something through a ballpoint and sheet of A4 is the only method that works.

All diagramming software I have ever used is clunky enough to break the flow and leave me thinking more about the software than the problem.

318:

Arnold: per wiki, Taiwan pursued a number of weapons of mass destruction programs from 1949 to the late 1980s. The final secret nuclear weapons program was shut down in the late 1980s under US pressure after completing all stages of weapons development besides final assembly and testing; they lacked an effective delivery mechanism and would have needed to further miniaturize any weapon before it could be effectively used in combat.

I think it's a slam-dunk that if they had viable nukes 30 years ago, then the blueprints are still on file somewhere and the potentially explodey metal hemispheres might have been melted down and recycled but the material is still in inventory. Given the noises emanating from the CCP over the past couple of years, combined with Trump's manifest disinterest in foreign affairs, I'd be astonished if Taiwan hadn't reactivated its nuclear weapons program some time between 2017 and 2020, if only so that in event of an invasion they could announce that a Samson option was on the table.

319:

I'll agree with that, but all the other knowledge about the little practical details that weren't written down will have to be rediscovered.

That takes time.

See the state of the UK civil nuclear program for a worked example. We have access to designs, but commisioning capability is effectively gone & has to be bought in.

320:

Last survivor of The Battle of Matapan has just died.
- Prince Philip, aged 99 & 10 months.
Whatever his opinions, he was honest - the contrast with the unspeakable crawler we have as PM is very stark.

321:

The UK civil nuclear program ... circa 2003 there was one course in civil nuclear engineering at master's level, and it turned out 2-4 graduates a year. The industry was running on fumes: the Navy had its own nuc. eng. course, but minding the kettle on an SSN isn't directly comparable to running an AGR or PWR.

By 2010 they were ramping up training again and were up to 30-50 nuclear engineers per year in higher education, which was getting up to what they needed just to replace the retirees running the existing fleet.

Taiwan has national service, and modern militaries with conscription generally try to find appropriate niches for specialists -- no more nonsense like giving Konrad Zuse or Kurt Godel rifles and sending them to the front as infantry privates. So I suspect a number of Taiwan's civilian nuclear engineers are cross-trained in other radiological activities for one month a year ...

322:

Goodie, a topic I can comment

@297 "They have unified most all ethnic Chinese except for Taiwan. And they are not shy in stating that is a goal AND WILL BE DONE. People here said I was nuts when I predicted they would invade within 10 years. Now I think maybe sooner"

That depends. There are factions within Chinese society that consider Singapore, N Kachin State (Myanmar), and George Town (Malaysia) sufficiently Chinese. Then there's another faction which considers Johor Baru, Malaysia and Mandalay, Myanmar as sufficiently Chinese to 'reunify'. Christmas Island was also briefly floated, but that idea seems to have disappeared. Source: Taiwanese ex-girlfriend

@314 "China is approaching, if not at, the point where it can beat anything that America can throw at it. The US still thinks of an aircraft carrier as a military asset. China thinks of them as a big fat target."

1. That goes both ways. The same missiles that make the US Navy a tempting target can work as well against the Chinese Navy. Note that the missile mentioned in the article can't reach Beijing, but it can reach Shanghai. Good luck invading without a surface navy

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-defence/taiwan-says-has-begun-mass-production-of-long-range-missile-idUSKBN2BH0IT

2. a. The second point is also not true. China has 2 weaknesses: semiconductors and jet engines/passenger aircraft in general. While SMIC occasionally mentions making 7 nm chips, most observers doubt that they've exceeded 14 nm. By comparison, TSMC has already rolled out 5 nm this year with 3 nm chips having passed the prototype stage. Moore's Law hasn't died yet. The diameter of a silicon atom is 0.2 nm, so probably 0.5 is the limit?

b. COMAC just released their first narrowbody plane last year, with the jet engine made solely in the US. They're partnering with Russia to design their first widebody (I think they've given up doing it on their own). They have to buy the engines for their 5th gen fighter from Russia.

c. In 2019, 7.8% of their yearly imports were IC
https://oec.world/en/profile/country/chn?depthSelector2=HS4Depth
Look up HS6 for a better breakdown. I remember reading last year that 40% of US exports to China in 2019 fell in the categories of aerospace and semiconductors, but I can't find the source.

323:

"Moore's Law hasn't died yet. The diameter of a silicon atom is 0.2 nm, so probably 0.5 is the limit?"

Quantum effects are already causing trouble; to get that small would require some massive improvements in low-level error correction.

324:

My opinion on China is that it's gaining power...relative to the US. But in global terms, it's gaining very little new power. Most of the changes are due to the US losing a lot of power. So, who's gaining the actual power? Regional countries.

Consider the following realities:
1. Populations in each region is heavily skewed towards a few countries. In SE Asia, 2/3 live in just 3 countries (Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia). In Latin America, 72% live in just 4 countries (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia). In the Middle East, half of the population lives in just 3 countries (Egypt, Turkey, Iran). Note that I'm counting the Maghreb as part of the Middle East. In Africa overall, a third of people live in just 4 countries (Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the DRC). As those countries catch up, they can form a counter to both the US and China. These countries insistence on trading with both is a huge reason why the world hasn't formed into blocks like during the Cold War. In my opinion, it's a huge reason why it won't form into blocks again.

2. The combined GDP of Japan, S Korea, and Taiwan is ~50% that of China. As long as it's > 1/3, that should keep China from dominating the region economically, despite its much larger population. Likewise, imagine if the largest cities in the above countries became a tech/financial hub? That would dilute the economic powers of Nylon Kong (NY, London, Hong Kong) as well as Silicon Valley and Shenzhen/Beijing.

3. The weapons ecosystem in WW1 favored the defenders. The ecosystem in WWII favored the attackers. I believe that the current ecosystem also favors the defenders. This gives a military advantage to the regional powers over the blocks. Imagine if all the regional powers have missiles accurate enough to target aircraft carriers.

325:

Re: China - Century of Humiliation (navy)

The Wikipedia entry (Paul @ 314) mentioned that most of China's losses were as a consequence of insufficient (no) naval power. A search immediately turned up info that China now has the largest navy in the world plus the following headlines:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-09/filipino-reporters-chased-by-armed-chinese-ships-in-disputed-sea

According to the Wikipedia article, the Philippines were once a Chinese territory/possession.


My impression is that in all former/fallen empires - China included - there's usually a bunch of good old boys/old aristocracy that makes a try at grabbing back whatever territories they 'lost' since.

326:

"According to the Wikipedia article, the Philippines were once a Chinese territory/possession."

Wikipedia needs better editors. In the 15th Century, there was a huge SE Asian trade network opened up by Zheng He that collapsed with the fall of the Ming Dynasty. Of the 50 million 'Overseas Chinese', about half are descendant from traders who immigrated in the region.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Chinese

By the definition they're using for the Philippines, Japan was a Chinese territory in the 700s.

In the 19th century, the 'Chinese' in the region got the same stereotypes that Europeans placed on Jews. So, in the 20th century most of the people pushing the "Chinese colony" theory were those who wanted pogroms. This in turn means that Xi is selling the Chinese Navy as a form of "insurance against future pogroms"

As for regaining lost territory, most of that focus is on Bhutan, the "7 sisters" (w.r.t. India), the Pamir Mountains, Mongolia, and very rarely Vladivostok. The stuff I mentioned in my previous post was about the goal of uniting "Chinese ethnics", which is a different goal. Taiwan and N Kachin State are the only overlaps, as far as I know.

327:

Right now, 2 nm is still in the prototype stage. Some labs have built a 1 nm transistor, but I'm not sure how practical it is?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_nm_process

328:

Ioan @ 325 "According to the Wikipedia article, the Philippines were once a Chinese territory/possession."

Wikipedia needs better editors.

Where exactly do you see such a claim? I've gone to the articles and haven't found it. Now and then I edit Wikipedia when there are glaring errors.

329:

I hadn't read the articles in question, I took SFReader's words for it. He was the one who made the claim. If the article doesn't exist, then I apologize. That sentence was a direct quote from post 324.

330:

Ioan @ 328: "That sentence was a direct quote from post 324."

Yes, and from there I went to Paul @ 314 where I found Wkipedia articles but no mention in them of the Philippines as part of China.

331:

Ok, then I was wrong, and I apologize.

332:

It's not you, it's previous posters.

333:

In other news, an HIV vaccine candidate has shown great promise in preliminary phase 1 trials - 97% of subjects had antibodies

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/research-shows-promising-development-hunt-hiv-vaccine/story?id=76904202

334:

Ioan
So, according to both you & several others, China is looking for "Lebensraum" - yes?
In spite of the knowledge that world population may have already peaked.
That is not a pleasant prospect.
I think, now that IQ45 is out of the picture that any attempt to take over Taiwan by military force will ... not end well.
They have no business in Bhutan, either ...
And an Indo-Chinese war could be - bad for the planet?

The way the PRC is throwing its weight around, with almost no regard for the way its "smaller/weaker" neighbours think & behave is also extremely worrying - worse than Putin, maybe, who always seems to know when to - if not stop, at least back off a little.
How come Putin's Russia carries so much weight, anyway, given their GDP, declining population & miserable state of internal (medical) health?

No comments, yet on mine @ 319, which surprises me

335:

I haven't seen anything suggesting that the world population has peaked. I've seen suggestions that it could peak by 2050 (VERY good).

On the other hand... "The way the PRC is throwing its weight around, with almost no regard for the way its "smaller/weaker" neighbours think & behave is also extremely worrying"

Speaking as someone from the US, ROTFLMAO. Please look up "Monroe Doctrine", and how the US has treated Central and South America for well over a century, and, though it has lessened a lot, still... I have *no* right to complain...

336:

I had a thought last night. With the government shakeup that leads to the installation of the "New Management", did the Laundry or Contingency Operations or whatever successor agency manage to recover Angleton's Memex?

337:

My impression isn't that China is looking for Lebensraum, it's looking for that pleasant feeling of dominance.

338:

Whitroth
Entirely correct & apposite, but, one would have thought that those days are dying, if not entirely past. And, of course: "Two wrongs do not make a right".
Also, for instance/for example - The Philippines.
Were a Spanish colony, then a US one, then given at least partial independence, then utterly controlled by the Japs at their very worst, then actually independent ... one might assume that they would NOT welcome Han overlords, at all ....

339:

How come Putin's Russia carries so much weight, anyway, given their GDP, declining population & miserable state of internal (medical) health?

Oil

Industrial might. Not everywhere but there are still only a very limited number of countries that can produce military jet engines and nuclear subs. The is on the decline but still.

Plus they want to re-establish the USSR to some degree. And there's not much anyone can do (or has the stomach to do) to stop it. At least around the edges.

I think of that early part of "Foundation" where someone is traveling around the galaxy and keeps finding worlds where the tech is being maintained but the worlds don't really have the ability to actually create the tech.

(Excuse the 40 year or older memory.)

340:

I have been of the opinion that navies in general, and aircraft carriers in particular, are becoming something of a skeumorph as far as actual wars are concerned.

At present they are very effective in unbalanced combat. The US can project massive airpower and flatten any lesser country it chooses. The many carrier groups it has wandering around is a big part of the current global power dynamic.

Nobody else has anything remotely near. I have to assume that everyone else is aware of that, and also aware that Carrier Groups are massively expensive and extremely hard to replace. Any long-term planner worth the job title in Russia, Europe, China, Iran or anywhere else has had to put some thought into how possibly to sink or neutralize US naval power.

How many small rubber 'drone' torpedoes would it take to sink a carrier without warning? How much would it cost to build swarms of the things to sit or roam around deep underwater and ambush a carrier? Maybe the whole group at once?

I sincerely hope it never happens (war) but I strongly suspect a large percentage of most navies will be involuntarily underwater within the first few weeks of any actual shooting war.

341:

The big problem with carriers, unlike most of the things that can replace or destroy them, is that the actually have a very useful role in disaster relief, since they can serve as a floating airfield to get stuff in to rebuild ports and coastal airfields after disaster like cyclones, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

While yes, I get seriously annoyed with all the power projection, it's worth remembering that they're useful in other kinds of emergencies too, useful as it would be if they were all bad and therefore disposable.

342:

I'd say that China isn't looking for lebensraum. They're looking for Anschluss or "Restore the Roman Empire". They've largely given up on populating "empty" regions.

China's population is set to peak in 2030 (My ex-girlfriend doesn't believe this too be the case. Her opinion: single women sans children will get a VERY low social credit score sometime this decade)

As for Russia, to quote Pres Obama, "it's just a glorified regional power". For all the noise they make in the media, they don't really dominate much. They can't dominate East or Southeast Asia while there's a strong China and Japan. They can't dominate Europe while there's a strong Germany, France, or Poland. They can't dominate the Middle East while there's a strong Ottoman or Persian empire (whatever they're actually called), and they can't dominate Central Asia while there's a strong Kwarezhmia. In short, they're the first of many regional powers that will increasingly dominate the 21st century as per my post at 321.

343:

slightly a bit off topic, but a few weeks ago I remeber reading in some comments, what were Charlie's medias of choice for following political news about Scotland.

Could you please refresh my memory ?

Merci :)

344:

That's nice, but a bit of a diversion. Aircraft carriers can be used in disaster relief, but that is not their core purpose. If that was the only goal of an aircraft carrier it would be scrapped as overly expensive, and/or it could be done for dramatically less cost. Sometimes fighter jets transport organ transplants as well, but that alone is not a reason to maintain thousands of fighter jets.

I could use a backhoe to dig my garden, but it is massively overpowered for the task at hand, and has a bunch of additional costs and functions that I don't need and can't afford. I will stick with my shovel.

I'd love to see a dozen 'disaster relief' fleets operating and in service around the world, ready to provide care anywhere and everywhere. They could likely be operated for a tiny fraction of the cost of a military fleet.

Disaster relief is not in itself a reason to maintain carrier groups. Their core purpose is disaster infliction.

345:

When cruise missiles became good, they essentially obsoleted the tank as a vehicle of open-country warfare. Yet, the tank is still indispensable in urban warfare.

The aircraft carrier still remains immensely valuable militarily against an opponent that can't sink one. Missiles that can sink an aircraft carrier are becoming more widespread, but they're still technologically sophisticated and complex weapons. I think it's inevitable that regional powers will have those weapons, but that still leaves a lot of countries which might not be able to acquire those weapons. Not to mention sub-national hostile entities. Think Mindanao or East Timor (if 'restorationists' come to power in Indonesia).

I read a thought proposal last year: "It's too dangerous for a foe to send an aircraft carrier to 75% of Asia's coast. However, half the countries in Asia are found in the remaining 25%"

346:

Aircraft carriers, specifically, and carrier groups, in general, are mobile military bases, relocatable.

Fighting a real opponent? Who was the forcably-retired admiral, 15 or so years ago, who defeated the USN, by attacking with a ton of small, small craft with torpedoes, etc? And then there's the t-shirts I've seen for a long, long time: on one side (front? back?) is a carrier, and the words "there are two kinds of ships: submarines, and targets (with a periscope view of a carrier).

347:

I am of the opinion that the 'swarm of small craft' will be (or already has been) replaced with a much larger swarm of much smaller drone/torpedoes in serious military planning. It would be possible to sink a carrier group without even losing any mariners.

A swarm of torpedoes could be launched from any vessel, including a fishing boat or cargo ship (or a vessel with that design).

Submarines, and particularly boomer subs, are similarly vulnerable. A big part of their function is in being hidden. That has worked for a long time, but I think we are moving into a period where hiding anything anywhere is going to be near impossible.

348:

"Submarines, and particularly boomer subs, are similarly vulnerable. A big part of their function is in being hidden. That has worked for a long time, but I think we are moving into a period where hiding anything anywhere is going to be near impossible."

1. I'll believe that when we can locate and identify every sunken ship on the ocean floor. As long as subs can hide by simply going deeper, they will.

2, What is the current success rate in catching narcotics subs? Those don't dive very deep.

349:

They included the Scotsman, the Nationalist and the Glasgow Herald; I can't remember if there were others.

350:

China is looking for "Lebensraum" - yes?

No.

Looking for security, yes. Both economic security (sources of raw materials, economic allies) and military (buffer zones).

351:

The newspaper is just "The National"; no "ist" suffix.

352:

It's been a long time since I read any kind of technothriller, but I'm pretty sure most military subs can't hang out at the bottom of the Marianas trench. I have no idea what the success rate is at catching narcotics subs. It may be 100% for all we know.


More to the point, subs are dangerous because you can't see them. Boomer subs are a 'deterrent' because nobody can be certain to wipe them out, so they 'deter' against nuclear first strikes.

The oceans are really immense volumes in which it is relatively easy to hide. Most countries have trouble keeping track of surface ships, never mind submarines. However, this is an sf themed discussion. It isn't so hard to imagine a statistically useful array of drone subs that will, given sufficient time and motivation, locate most submarines. Especially since they all come and go from a relatively limited set of bases.

Once located they can be tracked and/or targeted. We probably aren't there yet, but it isn't hard in 2021 to image thousands or tens of thousands of cheap, relatively disposable underwater drones making life very difficult for a couple/few hundred very expensive submarines.

353:

Um, nope. Cheap drone subs? Really? How long do you think they could go underwater? You don't think big subs could outrun them... or run into them and smash them? Hell, heavy sonar might do it for them.

And cheap ones are *not* going to get down to the depths real subs can; to do that costs *money*.

354:

Submarines, and particularly boomer subs, are similarly vulnerable. A big part of their function is in being hidden. That has worked for a long time, but I think we are moving into a period where hiding anything anywhere is going to be near impossible.

I'm trying hard to think of a sensor that could detect a modern sub nowadays. Radar doesn't work underwater, sonar has a very limited range and there's a lot of other problems with it as a sensor -- going active means basically you're shouting "Here I am!" very loudly which is begging to get a homing torpedo or three in return. It might be possible to identify a sub's presence by the amount of waste heat it produces from the reactor or (for AIP conventional subs) motor cooling systems but that won't provide a targeting solution for weapons.

The past fifty years of submarine development has been an attempt to turn them into holes in the water that emit practically no noise which can be detected passively and the development and adoption of sound-absorbing tiles makes them effectively stealth vessels in terms of active sonar. Shrouding the prop, pump-jets and machinery isolation have upped the stakes even further. When the first of the Royal Navy's new Astute nuclear subs went to wargame with America's anti-submarine warfare forces and their ageing 688-class subs about a decade ago it wasn't even a contest. One comment from the USN sub-drivers was to the effect "Our boats kick back the sonar signature of a dolphin. The new RN design has the signature of a baby dolphin." The Thales sonar on the RN subs could easily provide them with shooting solutions on the USN subs while the 'opposition' didn't even know they were there.

355:

What is the current success rate in catching narcotics subs? Those don't dive very deep.

Many of them don't actually submerge all the way at all, just cruise very low in the water. Apparently the makers are getting pretty good about stealth though, doing things like pre-chilling exhaust to avoid leaving an IR plume. At least as of a decade ago the Coast Guard claimed about 10% success, which seems plausible.

Many are one-way vessels, which is cost effective given the value of the payload, but at least some are meant for multiple round trips. This makes sense to me, given the long building time necessary to assemble such a thing in a secret shipyard with questionable labor.

356:

Um, nope. Cheap drone subs? Really?

Instead of thinking robot midget submarine, think solar-powered networked sonobuoy.

By 2040 it might be completely normal for the Royal Navy to drop outrider scouts from aircraft, on either side of a ship's path, maybe one every ten miles or so. Some might be recovered later, many would vanish, but it's not important if the local nodes are cheap.

It could take a while to accumulate 28,800 nodes and the grimly serious military types probably wouldn't stand for whimsical colors and shapes...

357:

Despite all the efforts at hiding a nuclear sub it still leaves a massive infrared signature and it is a considerable magnetic anomaly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_anomaly_detector#/media/File:Lockheed_P-3C_(JMSDF)02.jpg

Modern torpedoes are often rocket-assisted and they can have both passive and active sonar, used at different times during an attack.

358:

(The anti-submarine research/documentation is shrouded in secrecy, and I'm not gonna poke very hard at it, so speculating a lot here.)
As Nojay says, 60+ years of arms race has reduced the vulnerability of submarines to both active and passive acoustic detection, including preventing location precise enough for a non-nuclear anti-submarine weapon.
Magnetometers are also used, and there might be more improvements in quantum magnetometers, but shielding is possible. I do not know (at all) the current state of this arms race.
Wakes are another obvious vulnerability. The obvious approach is synthetic aperture radar looking at surface waves and then massive signal processing. I do not know how well this works in practice or could work in theory.
It's possible that wakes could be detected directly, e.g. through disturbances in patterns of biology, or chemical (and also isotopes, with mass spectrometers) signatures of some sort and highly-sensitive sensors. No clue but it's obvious, so it has been and continues to be explored. (Unless proven not to work.)
Another risk is gravitational sensing.[1] There are recent designs for portable, fast quantum gravimeters[3], and I would assume that these have been militarized (if they weren't already prior to the public research) and that e.g. the Chinese are mapping their very extended "territorial" waters with high-sensitivity gravimeters.
That list is of course not exhaustive. (There are other approaches that might be of interest.)

[1] Feasibility analysis of submarine detection method Based on the airborne gravity gradient (2018, Chinese authors) [2]
[2] And a combination with quantum clocks might enable higher spatial precision. [4]
[3] Quantum gravimeter drives out of the lab and into the hills (30 Apr, 2019)
[4] This is blocked for me (security controls of some sort). Active optical atomic clock for gravitational anomalies detection (October 2017, Marcin Bober, Michal Zawwada) Full reference found here: Quantum Technology and Submarine Near-Invulnerability (Katarzyna Ku, December 2020)

359:

No comments, yet on mine @ 319, which surprises me

A data point of one from the US.

His wife shows up in the news I see maybe 5 to 10 times per year. (I don't read People, Us, or similar "what did this celeb eat for lunch yesterday with whom".)

Her husband much less. The only things I remember about him in in the last few years were:
- pulling back from official duties
- he stopped driving on his estate(s)
- he was in the hospital a week or so ago

My impression of him was he was a decent person, actually SERVED well in WWII, and at times showed his era with statements that didn't fit with the social norms of the modern world of the 20xx's. In other word, a somewhat normal person.

He's just not on the radar of most of the US population.

360:

What is the current success rate in catching narcotics subs? Those don't dive very deep.

Since we're not looking for them and we can't watch them being built we don't know how many there are and thus what the detection rate is.

But given they are not really meant to dive more than a meter or few below the surface, I suspect that are not all that hard to detect if we try. And the cost of making them able to go deep is likely not worth it.

361:

it still leaves a massive infrared signature
Interesting, thanks. A quick search found a bunch of things. This wasn't blocked for me (another related paper was) (note: site is naval postgraduate school so logs might be more likely to be watched):
EFFECTS OF INTERNAL HEATING ON THE DYNAMICS AND PATTERNS OF STRATIFIED WAKES (Huang, Lianghai C., 2020)
or the pdf:
EFFECTS OF INTERNAL HEATING ON THEDYNAMICS AND PATTERNS OF STRATIFIED WAKES (Huang, Lianghai C.Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School, 2020)
Distinctive loop shapes form in slices of the turbulent dissipation rate in all cases that may be used to easily identify submarine wakes. We also observed that the thermal anomaly is correlated to the submerged body's velocity and to higher background salinity gradients for comparable density stratification.

362:

For the vulnerability of Carriers to Submarines, this from Wikipedia;

In 2004, the Swedish government received a request from the United States to lease HSwMS Gotland – Swedish-flagged, commanded and manned, for a duration of one year for use in antisubmarine warfare exercises. The Swedish government granted this request in October 2004, with both navies signing a memorandum of understanding on 21 March 2005.[5][6] The lease was extended for another 12 months in 2006.[7][8][9] In July 2007, HSwMS Gotland departed San Diego for Sweden.[10]

HSwMS Gotland managed to snap several pictures of USS Ronald Reagan during a wargaming exercise in the Pacific Ocean[when?], effectively "sinking" the aircraft carrier.[11] The exercise was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the US fleet against diesel-electric submarines, which some have noted as severely lacking.[12][13] In 2001, during the exercise JTFEX 01-2 in the Caribbean Sea, the German U24 of the conventional 206 diesel-electric class "sank" the carrier Enterprise by firing flares and taking a photograph through its periscope.[14]

363:

And recently (2016) republished by the Folio Society.

364:

Cheap relative to crewed submarines, or even warships, let alone carriers. If you don't have a crew, getting down to the depths is MUCH easier - e.g. the submarine could be entirely solid- or fluid-filled. My guess is that the same applies to making them quieter. And then there is the following:

To David L: if there is a bit of a chop, how would you propose to detect a camouflaged quiet, slow drone moving just below the surface? If it were equipped with a rocket for the final burst, it would be severely hard for a carrier to protect against.

365:

I met him, once, briefly when he was past 70. He was most impressive - this was touring a supercomputer, and he had clearly asked for a thorough briefing, taken it in, and asked intelligent questions.

366:

Re: China-Philippines - 'previous posters'

My apologies - that was my screw-up. I read too quickly and followed/searched a bunch of comments/phrases through the interweb media rabbit-hole. The 'correct' reference is:

https://globalnation.inquirer.net/36057/china-tv-claims-philippines-as-chinese-territory

'When commenting on territorial disputes and separatist movements in Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and neighbouring sea areas, Chinese diplomats and media routinely claim all such areas as an “indisputable part of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”'


367:

The weapons ecosystem in WW1 favored the defenders. The ecosystem in WWII favored the attackers. I believe that the current ecosystem also favors the defenders.

Another factor to consider is the changing distribution of energy sources and their geopolitical impact. The pre-WW1 era was dominated by coal, hence the strategic importance of coal reserves in Germany (although the RN was driving a rapid shift towards oil, indicated by the horrible experience of the Russian Baltic fleet's voyage to Tsushima: oil was a vastly superior fuel for long range fleet operations). The post-WW1 period, including WW2, was dominated by oil economics, and drove the western dismemberment and occupation of the Middle East (and a bunch of other stuff: Venezuela, anyone?).

Nuclear power seems to have fizzled overall, but the new hotness is renewables and especially photovoltaic panels, which don't produce easily transportable fuel (although there are ways around that) and which is most intense/abundant near the equator. China is in that respect well-positioned (look at the Gobi desert! Pave it with PV cells!), as is the USA (large chunks of the south will be useless for farming in the next few decades but get copious insolation). But the big winners are going to be the populous African and Middle-Eastern nations you mentioned. And unless someone finds a way to magically teleport those photovoltaic electrons, they're going to be utilized near to where they're produced, which means: industrialization ...

368:

Underwater gliders seem to be a possibility for this. Stick a couple of wings on a small submarine shape and make it nose heavy and it will move forward as it descends. If the ballast is made of a variable density material, or can be moved fore and aft (eg mount the battery pack on rails), then rebalance the craft to be nose light and it keeps moving forward as it rises again. Low power, quiet, and long duration, construction can be largely non-metallic so if they're detected at all they look like a shark or dolphin swimming by. Effectively a self-positioning mine field.

369:

another related paper was

I've noticed that USG sites tend not to like VPNs. If you're using one, you could try turning it off. Of course they'll note and record your presence -- I usually don't care about that myself, but YMMV.

370:

It never went away -- and that's probably going to be a plot point in the next (last) Bob novel.

(NB: don't worry, the Laundryverse isn't going away any time soon: it's just that I've been writing Bob and spies since 1999 and I'm kinda tired of that stuff, especially as government security agencies in 2021 have drastically different social significance to back in 1999. I've just sold two more in the spin-off series that started with "Dead Lies Dreaming"; first should be out next year.)

371:

Industrial might. Not everywhere but there are still only a very limited number of countries that can produce military jet engines and nuclear subs. The is on the decline but still.

Nuclear subs are not rocket science. (Good ones, on the other hand ...)

Current producers are: the USA, Russia, the UK, France, and China.

However the list of countries who could produce them is much, much longer. At the top of the list are India and Japan, probably followed by both Koreas, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil ...

The reason they're not more widespread is that submarines in general and nuclear ones in particular are expensive and tricky to get right, and nuclear subs are primarily useful for long range/blue water operations. If you don't need a blue water navy you'd do better to concentrate on the smaller, cheaper fuel-cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) subs, which are at least potentially as quiet as nuke boats and with much greater submerged endurance than traditional SSKs, albeit with much shorter overall range.

372:

I'd love to see a dozen 'disaster relief' fleets operating and in service around the world, ready to provide care anywhere and everywhere. They could likely be operated for a tiny fraction of the cost of a military fleet.

What would a disaster relief fleet look like?

I'm going to go with: the core asset would be a nuclear-powered carrier. But it'd be more like an LHD than a fleet carrier -- optimized for rotary-wing or tiltrotor aircraft rather than fast jets, possibly able to handle STOL transports up to the size of a C-130, and with a big-ass well deck for hovercraft and amphibious vehicles. The reactor power a fully electric drive system and provide hotel power, and also have a grid interconnect for delivering up to 50MW of base load to a local power grid. Also a giant desalination plant, and in place of the armory it'd have extensive hospital facilities. It'd still carry tracked vehicles, but they'd mostly be bulldozers, backhoes, and engineering vehicles rather than tanks or IFVs. Possibly a handful of APCs and IFVs for police use, but there's no need to carry helicopter gunships, tanks, or strike fighters.

It'd travel with supply ships, tankers (esp. water tankers, not necessarily fuel oil in the post-2030 world), engineering support ships able to repair/replace damaged urban infrastructure (eg. cell coverage, power substations, water pumps), and possibly something vaguely like a cruise ship, except optimized as a floating emergency hotel for evacuees rather than a vacation hotel. Also a fully equipped hospital ship. Maybe some specialized offshore fire-fighting capability, too.

The Caribbean hurricane season could easily keep such a group usefully busy; so could the South East Asian typhoon season, and also earthquakes/tsunamis around the Indian Ocean and Pacific Rim.

Thoughts?

373:

New Scientist (which is just one step above the Sunday comics in plausibility) mentioned research in using neutrino emissions to identify nuclear subs -- although it's murderously difficult and requires multiple huge detector arrays to stand a chance of triangulating on one. Seemingly neutrinos from fission reactors don't match the fingerprint of solar or other extraterrestrial sources.

One interesting point is that enough seawater effectively blocks out daylight, so towing optical sensor arrays behind a deep-diving boat, pointing downwards into the abyss, can plausibly detect neutrino events in the ocean that involve interactions with sodium or chlorine ions.

Colour me very skeptical, however.

374:

Ioan writes (326):

Right now, 2 nm is still in the prototype stage. Some labs have built a 1 nm transistor, but I'm not sure how practical it is?


GLENDOWER

I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR
Why, so can I, or so can any man, But will they come when you do call for them?

What leakage current do you expect at 1nm or 2nm? What is your intended yield?

(At much below 14nm you expect leakage currents of about 50+% when the transistor is switched off. This has obvious implications when you consider the total power budget. Yes, Steve Furber taught me chip design, and his first question is always: "What's the power budget for the chip?" His answer, by the way, is "One Watt" (with a stretch to perhaps 2W), as anything over this is too much. Because you'll need to extract the excess heat, and you'll need to ceramic-package, thereby adding circa $10 to the 0.01$ cost of each chip.

The next issue is that at 1nm, I'd expect most transistors will fail to be usable, because as EC has pointed out, your feature size is just 4x4x4 = 64 silicon atoms. Recall that you want doping at 5 in 1,000,000 atoms for the P or N parts of your FET. This suggests 2.5nm as a sensible end point for the silicon process.

You also need to consider the economics of "iffy" transistors. If the failure rate is 0.01% then on a typical chip where 1nm is of use, you'd be using multiple billions of transistors. Lots of those will fail. What counts as a successful product?)

Your milage may vary.

375:

Re: 'For all the noise they [China] make in the media, they don't really dominate much.'

They do in manufacturing and increasingly in consumer spending - core components of the GDP. They've also demonstrated that they have a very solid research infrastructure.

The past 5 years (DT & COVID-19) really highlighted how easily screwed most Western economies/populations would be if international relations fell apart: China can and has retaliated economically. This matters because the other manufacturing countries that the US/EU also has ties with wouldn't be able to ramp up their production fast enough to prevent major supply gaps. (BTW/FYI because of the age profile of folks here: China produces approx. 20% of generic drugs, globally. India is the other generics powerhouse.)

Basically it boils down to whether you'd rather fight any future wars with guns or $$$ based on: what of your own wouldn't you mind destroying/sacrificing, what's the cost (in $$$, people and other unreplaceable assets/resources, time) to your enemy vs. yourself, how much (what) does it cost to rebuild under each scenario, etc.

376:

This was never my area, and I am very out of touch, but low-level error correction was a hot topic in the 1990s and 2000s - I should be flabberghasted if it hasn't remained so. But, while it is well-understood for storage and transmission, it was much trickier for actual logic, and doing it without adding serious delays to branching and other control-flow-critical actions was an unsolved problem. Things may have moved on, of course.

377:

That would be very cool. I can't comment on the details, but getting the idea out into the world could help. Maybe there are people who can make this happen would would like to take on a big interesting project.

Do you mind if I copy and paste this into my Facebook-- not that I have any significant influence, but you have to start somewhere.

Also, there could probably be decent novels or television series about disaster relief fleets.

378:

> neutrino detection

See the JASON tutorial "Neutrino Detection Primer", https://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/neutrino.pdf

It's really tough.

379:

Please read more closely, I was referring to Russia with that comment. But you do point out why Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN are unwilling to sanction Myanmar. They're hoping to replicate a lot of that production within the Indochinese peninsula. Thailand and Malaysia are too expensive for this type of manufacturing to relocate there, never mind Singapore. Vietnam is already facing a labor shortage due to (primarily) the smartphone factories. In the meantime, Cambodia and Laos are the only 2 client states China actually has (there's a long history there). I don't know why Luzon, Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, or Borneo aren't considered suitable there?

380:

Dave Lester
One of the all-time-great sarcastic put-downs, that one, of course ......

Relief fleets
Well the RN has it's RFA's ( Royal Fleet Auxiliary ) & the US must have a larger equivalent set of vessels already.
Couple that up with, say, pairs of helicopter-carriers & you are well on the way to the desired objective with kit already to hand.
Which would be a significant start.
The difficult bit is PAYING for it - especially given the example of the angry child, IQ45's temper-tantrum over the WHO as a bad example.

381:

the US must have a larger equivalent set of vessels already.

You mean these?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibious_assault_ship

If you follow the links, the USN has over 30.

382:

I got my first vaccine yesterday. It was the Pfizer, and I felt very tired afterwards, but other than that no side-effects.

383:

319: My principal reaction is to feel sorry for Liz. I think it was really sweet that they really did love each other.

379: "All time great" as in the idea being sufficiently suggestive of itself that everyone originates something of the kind themselves sooner or later...? I'm sure most of us here have done. (Yes, I object to Glyndwr being characterised as a bell.)

384:

David L
No, I didn't - they are equivalent to the "Helicopter Carriers" I was thinking of
The USN must have a fleet of support vessels, though, surely?
Only very lightly armed, or unarmed, designed to carry supplies to their fleets?

385:

What would a disaster relief fleet look like?

John Barnes had de facto emergency relief fleets in Mother of Storms, but IIRC they were repurposed military units rather than purpose-designed — and they were fairly peripheral to the plot so not treated in general.

Possibly a handful of APCs and IFVs for police use, but there's no need to carry helicopter gunships, tanks, or strike fighters.

Depending on where they're operating, and the mentality of those operating them, I could see military (or at least paramilitary) units/equipment for security. Especially if operated by our good friends south of the border, where even small-town police departments apparently need military equipment.

386:

I got an email from Big River .ca today that Escape from Puroland's publication date has been moved back to August 10th.

Wasn't this already the publication date? Or am I misremembering?

387:

The USN uses a variety of support methods to keep the fleet moving. Oil tankers which can refuel the non-nuclear stuff at sea. (Nasty operation for boiler operated ships. Talk to someone who has had to do it above decks.) Supply ships for food and such. Supply planes for delivering stuff to carriers and such so they don't have to port. (Mail, meds, etc... A friend carried a jet engine once to a carrier.) I think most all ships these days have a place for a copter to land.

And they rent space in port warehouses for non-perishables around the world. And one Admiral is going to jail over kick backs related to some of these contracts in SE Asia. I'm fuzzy on the details but it was a big deal a year or few ago.

388:

The difficult bit is PAYING for it - especially given the example of the angry child, IQ45's temper-tantrum over the WHO as a bad example.

Odd how a country so committed to 'forward defense' that it has military units all over the world refuses to do anything about infectious diseases until it's invaded. :-/

There was a short story I read years ago when I was a kid — starts like a Vietnam-era attack on a jungle village, then you discover that the 'invaders' are drilling a well and installing proper toilets, basically forcibly implementing public health measures, and their weaponry is non-lethal and to be used only to defend themselves. Main character actually physically attacks a local because 'why should they get good stuff when my family couldn't have that when I was a kid' and gets disciplined.

Can't remember the details, but what I remember is that the whole 'why should someone else get nice stuff because they don't deserve it' mentality seemed really alien to me when I read it; it was only after I started working that I encountered it in real life and realized what the author was getting at — that stopping diseases at source is cheaper than dealing with them after they become an outbreak.

389:

No, I didn't - they are equivalent to the "Helicopter Carriers" I was thinking of

If you bump into a current or ex Navy surface fleet person (or Marine) I think this is the most likely type of ship they would have served on.

Of course we are one short at the moment. Did that fire in San Diego make the news in other parts of the world?

390:

Such a fleet would likely be orders of magnitude cheaper to run than a war fleet. It may need a few lightly armed cruisers or something to protect it from local bad persons, but perhaps that could be handled by various navies.

Of course, any such fleet would be ripe for the chopping block any time the mammonites are in charge, because it would emphatically not be profitable in any mammonite sense. Helping people that are not themselves isn't in the DNA.

391:

Charlie Stross @ 369: It never went away -- and that's probably going to be a plot point in the next (last) Bob novel.

I knew it was still there. I was just thinking about how the Laundry lost access to the New Annex during the Schiller coup attempt & was wondering whether the outsourced "replacement agency" had made any attempt to use it, remove it or destroy it during the events of "The Delirium Brief".

And I guess wondering whether the remnants of the Laundry were back operating out of the New Annex once the "New Management" took over?

I noted that Mhari has new digs as Baroness Karnstein in "The Labyrinth Index & was just idly wondering where the other survivors from The Laundry/Contingency Operations were being accommodated under the "New Management"?

(NB: don't worry, the Laundryverse isn't going away any time soon: it's just that I've been writing Bob and spies since 1999 and I'm kinda tired of that stuff, especially as government security agencies in 2021 have drastically different social significance to back in 1999. I've just sold two more in the spin-off series that started with "Dead Lies Dreaming"; first should be out next year.)

Good to hear. Hope I'll be around long enough to purchase them in my preferred media format (paperback for the Laundry Files).

392:

David L @ 386: The USN uses a variety of support methods to keep the fleet moving. Oil tankers which can refuel the non-nuclear stuff at sea. (Nasty operation for boiler operated ships. Talk to someone who has had to do it above decks.) Supply ships for food and such. Supply planes for delivering stuff to carriers and such so they don't have to port. (Mail, meds, etc... A friend carried a jet engine once to a carrier.) I think most all ships these days have a place for a copter to land.

And they rent space in port warehouses for non-perishables around the world. And one Admiral is going to jail over kick backs related to some of these contracts in SE Asia. I'm fuzzy on the details but it was a big deal a year or few ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Leonard_scandal

393:

Also, there could probably be decent novels or television series about disaster relief fleets.

Some kind of International Rescue organization? Yeah, I'd think such a TV series would be a lot of fun; plenty of people would watch that.

394:

I had a toy Thunderbird when I was a boy. It was before we had a television (and I'm not certain if either CBC or CTV every carried it in Saskatchewan anyways) so I've never actually seen one of the programmes. Sometimes I think I should look them up — have they aged well?

395:

Rbt Prior @ 387
It's a John Brunner story IIRC .... can't remember the title, though

396:

I remembered it as by Joe Haldeman., but it may be
"Commando Raid" by Harry Harrison (1970)
in an anthology called "Study War No More" edited by Joe Haldeman.

397:

Robert Prior @ 392: "Sometimes I think I should look them up — have they aged well?"

No. The effects were crude and the stories simple. They were broadcast in Montréal so I saw each episode in the 60s when I was very young.

What can I say. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space had even less effects and simpleton stories too and I watched them anyway.

The interesting puppet series to note is an earlier one, Fireball XL5, for the simple reason that the units of the Spacex series of Starships are slowly and gradually becoming to look like Fireball XL5, the titular spaceship of the puppet series.

398:

The H. Harrison story (if that's what it was) was Q and IDed in a previous recent thread,
https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2019/07/whoops-apocalypse.html

399:

That's sounds right. Paperback with a red cover…

And clearly my memory is going…

400:

"And unless someone finds a way to magically teleport those photovoltaic electrons, they're going to be utilized near to where they're produced, which means: industrialization ..."

Charlie, I was with you until this statement. With the possible exception of the African countries mentioned, all of the regional powers are already industrialized. None are industrially autarckic, but that's a bad idea in general unless the country has more than 1 billion people. Even there, it's very hard to pull off.

1. Turkey/Iran: Turkey wouldn't have been able to win the war in Armenia if it wasn't a fully industrialized nation. As for Iran, a country with a space program isn't industrialized?

2. Mexico: Mexico is as well integrated into the US manufacturing ecosystem as Eastern Europe is integrated into Western Europe's. In 2019, 62% of Mexico's exports consisted of industrial products
https://oec.world/en/profile/country/mex?depthSelector1=HS2Depth

3. Brazil/Argentina/Colombia: Brazilian industry is not well-known outside of a few niche areas, but
it's a powerhouse in those areas (ex: Embraer)

The problem these regional powers have is the same problem Russia has: they can create a good domestic tech ecosystem, but they can't yet create an international challenge to either Nylon Kong or Silicon Valley. I don't really see how the shift towards solar power helps them with this?

401:

https://youtu.be/wLiH4xrCITI

Worth a look I think, simply so you get some of the jokes in "Team America: World police" if nothing else.

Some of it is a bit cringe worthy. Depictions of Asians in particular, but that was the era. I thought it streets ahead of the contemporary fare. Much of which was dismally terrible animation with dismal plots and dismal acting.

https://youtu.be/gR3ZUCGhA_g

402:

“I had a toy Thunderbird when I was a boy.”
Hah! I *was* a toy Thunderbird when I was a boy. Well, y’know what I mean. Somewhere out there is a deeply embarrassing picture of me in IR uniform.

Yes, it was definitely ‘of it’s time’ in so many ways but just exactly how often is anything not? We don’t seem to see the bias and bigotry in our midst etc any more clearly than we see the air we breathe. Accept the good where it exists (in this case the fairly wholesome adventure of helping people in trouble) and learn not to repeat the bad in future.

For example; do not launch an orbital class rocket in your garden.

Also, there are usually quite lot of the Gerry Anderson shows to be found on yootoob - Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds, TerraHawks, Stingray (anything can happen in the next half hour!) UFO, etc, et .

403:

Bill Arnold
You are correct - it was HH's "Commando Raid" - also published in the HH collection of shorts - "Prime Number" ( Just picked it off the bookshelves to check(!))

404:

Yes, they're industrialized: their infrastructure is patchy but varies between non-existent and leapfrogged-the-developed-world within the same country. And some things that the west is collectively ignorant of: for example, Iran manufactures roughly 20% of all the internal combustion engine vehicles in Asia.

My point is, PV energy isn't easily trans-shipped (unless you have so much surplus you can use it for manufacturing synthetic fuels). So it means building factories where the sun shines, electric power for freight transport (i.e. railways for container freight), and that the geopolitics/warfighting implications are a pattern that bears more resemblance to pre-industrial/agricultural communities (albeit with high technology) than to today's 20th-century-based pattern that favours oil fueled thalassic empires.

405:

Charlie
Recent announcement that India is set to electrify ALL of its Broad-Gauge ( 5'6" ) network by December 2023. Linkie
Meanwhile our wankers are still withering about a few miles of knitting

406:

Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds

There's also a self parody in an episode of Stargate SG-1 which involves the above for a couple of minutes.

407:

[shakes head] The issue is power to keep going, to chase something that doesn't need to stop. And can go up and down all day.

Saw a video a while ago, a jaguar? cheetah? chasing some other critter, the critter kept changing direction, and kept running, and the burst metabolism of the cat ran down.

On the other hand, my late ex told me that when she was in the Navy and working in COMOCEANSISLANT, they tracked one Soviet sub by the noisy samovar.

408:

Oh, btw, I was at the Ring of Fire Press open house yesterday, and was told the publication date of 11,000 Years has slipped to 10 June.

409:

Greg Tingey @ 404: "India is set to electrify ALL of its Broad-Gauge ( 5'6" ) network by December 2023. Meanwhile our wankers are still withering about a few miles of knitting"

It can't be as bad as Canada. We have only 80 miles of electrified trackaqe (most of it in urban transit systems) out of 30,709 miles of total trackage.

410:

? 20 years ago, if you wanted to get any more than about 20 miles from the centre of Glasgow by train, you had to use a diseasel (or go to England via Carstairs). Now the Strathclyde suburban network extends to Ayr and Largs, and to Edinburgh via Airdrie and via Falkirk, oh and the ECML is also electrified. Just because the pointless HS2 is several decades late and getting later doesn't mean no-one is building and/or electrifying new track mileage.

411:

I've never actually seen one of the programmes. Sometimes I think I should look them up...

You can get the gist of the Gerry Anderson supermarionation shows in minutes by watching the spoof Superthunderstingcar. Ideally do this where you won't be overheard alternately laughing and cringing at the low budget and stiff acting.

412:

paws
Bollocks
The electrification in Scotland is one of the things that the devolved Parliament in Edinburgh has got right
South of Newcastle-Carlisle .. not so much, or not at all
Trans- Pennine electrification, nah Leicester-Sheffield - York & Leeds? nah
Cardiff-Swansea? nah
2x1mile IN LONDON to make electric freight viable? nah

413:

I'm not sure how this means that it's bullocks to imply that the political will to develop and electrify the rail network in Ingerlund and Wales is lacking.

414:

Paws
Worse than that
The Treasury will do almost anything to stop or delay improvements in rail in England ... Wales has partly broken free & Scotland completely so, because of devolved powers.

415:

Despite your prejudices, the Treasury treats railways no differently from any other infrastructure project, and better than many (e.g. schools).

However, your point about electrification is good. The East-West railway link is proposed to NOT be electrified - yes, they are not even electrifying new lines!

416:

I refer the honourable gentleman to the "Jubilee Line extension", which is of more or less no use to anyone not wishing to take public transport to Olympic Park.

417:

Robert Prior @ 393: I had a toy Thunderbird when I was a boy. It was before we had a television (and I'm not certain if either CBC or CTV every carried it in Saskatchewan anyways) so I've never actually seen one of the programmes. Sometimes I think I should look them up — have they aged well?

You can find them on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hubB1vcc2i0&list=PL6fJmjt84zZgXus0MZZ7-1BaTOokZIoF9

418:

On the subject of electric trains:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBNHmUT3GPg

419:

Paws
The SPIT "olympic" park is EMPTY SPACE, Stratford station is where people want to go ...

420:

JBS @ 417

That's a huge LGB G scale locomotive pulling an LGB train. I've known about them for a long time. They're sold as garden railways.

So, in later years when I would see "LGBT" in the news I would immediately think of these huge G scale trains.

It's only recently, when they added "2S" for "2-spirit" (to get LGBTQ2S+)that I stopped thinking about LGB garden railways when I read the news.

421:

Meanwhile our wankers are still withering about a few miles of knitting

I thought part of the problem was tunnels? Partly tunnels with limited headroom, but also lines with only tunnels for two tracks, which would force protracted single-track running while installing overhead lines?

422:

Regarding women in computing.

Interesting article about RMS returning to the FSF board.
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/04/free-software-foundation-and-rms-issue-statements-on-stallmans-return/

Now given all of the history of RMS, anyone want to imagine the recruitment of a woman to the FSF board and how much of it would devolve into politics that has nothing to do with the supposed function of the FSF.

Computing has mostly been a collection of badly behaved boys for most of it's history. (See EC's comments.)

423:

The problem with new rail projects in many places like the UK and much of the US is the eye watering amounts of money that would need to be spend to overcome decisions made 80 or 150 years ago. And to deal with geography that fights against high efficiency, power or people/cargo moving. And that those pesky shaved apes have build houses, towns, and businesses in the way of the best new routes and for some reason don't want to give them up. At least not without $$££€€ in non trivial amounts. And at times not even then.

424:

Sometimes badly behaved, but many such claims are discriminatory (as have been many posts on this blog) - because one of the acceptable forms of discrimination is against those of us on the Asperger's spectrum (which is NOT just a form of autism) :-(

I am not, repeat NOT, saying that there aren't badly-behaved "boy's clubs", NOR that there is no discrimination, NOR the rudeness and abuse that caused the demise of so many Usenet groups and later Web forums, but that it is poorly correlated with whether there are few women involved.

What many of the complainers object to is that they are expected to fit in with the social rules of the community they are joining, rather than everyone else changing to use their rules. That is made much worse by the fact that the existing social rules were (and are) often far more appropriate for technical committees.

I have experience of a several cases where there were complaints that they were not given equal respect, because they weren't - they had come in without doing their homework, talked complete bullshit because they were ignorant of the area, were firmly but politely slapped down, and threw a sulk. There were several men who did the same, were treated the same, but did not complain.

The women that had done their homework or said something intelligent were listened to, and begged to continue, but many said that their effort would be better spent promoting their careers. I spent a lot of time trying and failing to persuade the latter category of women to get involved, but I am the world's worst salesman. I was also involved in pleading with a woman to accept a employment post, who rejected it on the grounds of a poor career pathway, as did several of my female friends doing computer science - unfortunately true :-(

A more relevant statistic would be the number of female committee chairs, relative to the number of women active in the committee - and, mutis mutandis, the same in open source contribution. In my career, that was fairly high, though I am not claiming my experience is universal.

425:

That's one problem, but the political aspects are a bigger one, though they are too miltifarious (and nefarious) to describe concisely.

426:

Maybe you should know that of my 50 years or so in IT I've had more time with women as bosses or clients than men. And the women were much more sane and thus better leaders. And the best programmers and analysts I've know for the most part were women. Some literally amazing.

But most of them hated dealing with the sophomoric boys club that existed in so many places.

And they were much better at separating their job from the rest of their lives.

427:

In three decades of teaching I've had twice as many female principals as male. The best two principals I had were male.

At my last school (which I retired from) the admin team and guidance department are now entirely female. This has not led to an era of kindness and consideration, with careful examination of facts before making decisions.

428:

I was referring to my IT experience.

When it comes to teachers my experience decades ago (when the ladies dominated the field) and with my kids growing up, quality was all over. Fantastic to OMG. Both male and female.

I have a special memory of my second grade teacher. She sat with a group of us at lunch and demanded I eat my sweat potatoes. I strenuously objected as I really didn't like such. So I ate. Then an hour or so later gave them back. And my seat in the classroom was next to her desk. I have a memory that she mostly ignored me the rest of the year.

429:

I think I would have had trouble with sweat potatoes too. Sounds yucky! :-)

Teachers all over, yup. Same with engineers at large engineering firm — some technically excellent, some technically shit but adept at office politics and getting credit.

School administrators, hands-down the men were better. But small sample so not willing to generalize beyond pointing out that my experience with female bosses is opposite your's.

430:

Charlie
No it's MONEY ( As percieved by the Treasury -all they can see is first-cost ) & a certain amount of spite, dating back to 1956.
Tunnels can be dealt with by plastic "sheeting " against flashover & "rail" rather than tensioned wire, if you have to.
IIRC no tunnels between Cardiff & Swansea

431:

"...the eye watering amounts of money that would need to be spend to overcome decisions made 80 or 150 years ago."

I guess you managed to avoid the most awkward such problem that we have, though. AIUI it is common practice for American cities served by several different railroads to have compelled them to overlook their differences and all run into one big shared station in the middle. Whereas our idiots compelled the various railways approaching London to stop before they got there and build their separate termini in a ring around the outside of it. Efforts to bodge around that one have been chewing money since 1863 and still are not complete.

But our most expensively awkward problems arise from decisions made during the last 70 years. A great preponderance of railway projects at the big and expensive end of the scale are based around reopening routes that were closed in the earlier part of that period and have spent the rest of it getting fucked. If all they had done was close them it wouldn't be so hard to recover, but it has been permitted for the route to be sold off piecemeal and for shit to be wantonly built on it, which all could have been built elsewhere - we're not so skinned for land as to be forced to use even that few metres of width - but in fact has been built exactly where it makes it most impossibly expensive to find an alternative route, because other bits of the town are in the way.

And they are outrageously reluctant to buy it back and knock it down, even when it's the sort of thing that isn't intended to endure more than 20-30 years in the first place. Instead they prefer to spend more money than it would have cost to do that on paying some association of professional oxygen thieves they were at school with to produce some expensive PDFs containing photos of pretty bits of local scenery and a few sets of figures, in which 90% of the costs and 100% of the benefits are artificial, imaginary, or just straight pulled out of their arse, to argue the toss over spending ten times more money still on various possible ways to bodge around the problem which all more or less suck. The aim is not to build a railway, but to synthesise procedural, pseudo-technical, nominally conciliatory of subtly provoked public reaction, or otherwise basically unarguable but footling and bogus, excuses to iterate this process as many times as they can plausibly get away with it before they have to find some other project to act as a new host.

432:

At least some of this doesn't just apply to Larndarn; Ok, they were all within 1.5 miles of each other (actual on the ground distance, not crow flies), but Glasgow used to have terminal stations at Buchanan Street (now about where the bus station is), Glasgow Central (on the present site, serves the South of the Clyde but is itself North of same, and 2 East-West platforms for commuter services), Glasgow Queen Street (on present site, serves North of the Clyde, but requires trains going North to start and climb a steep (by railway standards) incline) and Glasgow St Enoch (Now a shopping centre, but used to serve mostly Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and South / East Clyde coast services, now served out of Central).

433:

AIUI it is common practice for American cities served by several different railroads to have compelled them to overlook their differences and all run into one big shared station in the middle.

Indeed; it's very common to find a Union Station in many American cities. For example, Washington DC has theirs only 800m north of the Capitol Building (map). Pittsburgh has theirs downtown in the middle of everything (map) and it looks pretty too. In Portland Oregon it's downtown beside the river, where clueless people who bought overpriced riverfront condos complain about rail yard noise (map and interior view) - and part of my route to the San Jose Worldcon. Rail is often terrible in the United States in various ways but poorly located stations aren't one of our common problems.

434:

You made me look. I lived in the Pittsburgh area for 7 years and had multiple nice meals at the ex-station Station Square. Which was the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station way back when. And I have no recollection of the Union Station. And for someone who lived and worked on the other side of the SH tunnels I was downtown a lot.

And then there is the big pair. Midtown Manhattan has Grand Central and Penn station. Penn station is completely underground with the above ground being torn down a long time back and is now Madison Square Garden sports arena. The original Grand Central is still there. It has an Apple Store occupying about 1/4 of the mezzanine balcony that surrounds the main floor. I was in it 1 1/2 years ago. It is a really pretty place. At least the main floor above the tracks.

435:

Women in IT / Stem

But most of them hated dealing with the sophomoric boys club that existed in so many places.

I got push back here on this from some. Interestingly the US PBS show NOVA just did a 90 minute segment on this. Almost as if I wrote the script.

Francis Crick shows up early in the program and it's not a nice showing.

I have no idea who can watch it when or where. PBS is still trying to figure out how to deal with putting things on the internet. I recorded it via a DVR and have access to the PBS site as a donor.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/picture-a-scientist/

436:

I lived in the Pittsburgh area for 7 years and ... I have no recollection of the Union Station.

Oh! Is it called something else by the locals?

I've never been to Pittsburgh but read some Wen Spencer stories; she's gives a good sense of place and I got the urge to drop down in Google Earth and look at Pittsburgh. Union Station was one of the named locations and I happened to remember that when writing about the various other ones.

437:

I just looked it up on a map. I just never had a reason to go there. Or just didn't notice it. I did walk around the downtown way more than most of the people I worked with. Much of it walking about. I just never dealt with that train station. It was on the side of town where, at the time, was mostly businesses. Mid rise offices and/or small manufacturing. This was the mid 80s.

Now they did put in the infamous 3 stop subway while I was there. (Anyone remember the movie Flash Dance?) Which was the butt of a lot of jokes. But it actually made sense as it crossed the river and went through an unused tunnel and picked up a lot of people from the south side. It was really an underground extension of a decent trolley line. Which ran down the center of the street where my now wife lived before we got married.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on April 1, 2021 10:45 AM.

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