Friday, February 12, 2016

Headlines below the fold

BBC article on using Carbon 14 to date the earliest copy of the Koran...

handwriting experts dispute the early date.

But the article goes on to explore more problems with the technique, and the controversies (imaginary or real, from Atlantis to the shroud to the Dead sea scrolls) that are associated with these problems.

the problem? The amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere varies from year to year...


PJO'Rourke's bbc essay on the US election.
Heh. I'm old enough to remember when he wrote for the Rolling Stone.

Mexico has a huge problem with obesity (no pun intended) and the BBC blames cocacola and other sugar laden drinks.

Myself, I would point out that most Mexicans are Metziso, and that Native Americans also have a high rate of obesity and diabetes. So is it the sugary drinks, or that they no longer risk starvation?

The Pima study, comparing the traditional lifestyles vs the modern diet, shows yes, modern food and having enough of it to eat, does make one obese...but the Mexican tribe living the traditional lifestyle also is shorter and I suspect are poorly nourished.

Ravussin also points out the Pima predisposition to store fat efficiently due to survival mechanisms evolved in the harsh southwestern desert. Read more at

except this doesn't explain the similarly high rate of diabetes in the Chippewa of northern Minnesota, who are traditional farmers and fishermen in a non desert environment.

The clue indeed might be genetic: That the gene for metabolic syndrome predisposes one to live through famines. But famines occur everywhere, but until modern times, the ability of the poorer classes to get enough to eat was not present in all the world. Now they can, so the ones with the gene for metabolic syndrome get fat.

My mom tells the story of one of our aunts, who lived through the post WWI famines of Austria by eating tree bark and wild foods. When the aunt visited home in the 1930's, she came back and said there was going to be another see, the peasants sensed the war was coming, and were deliberately getting fat so they could survive.

and, of course, not doing heavy physical work of walking long distances is part of the problem.

Wikipedia list of severe famines...

strategypage has another backstory on the Sunni Shitte problem of the middle east...
Of course, the problem predates Islam: It goes back to the good old days of Darius the Great.


Flash floods in Saudi Arabia.

38mm of rain doesn't sound like much but when the hard desert soil doesn't absorb water, disaster can follow (as those of us who lived in the deserts of NM and Arizona are well aware).

wikipedia article on the 2009 floods there gives some geological background on the area.


Few soldiers were killed in Gulf War I, but the toll of that war continue, made worse by the inabilty to find a cause of many of the vagues symptoms of "Gulf War Syndrome".

blaming it on PTSS and other pschological reasons let the experts refuse to admit it was probably related to Sarin and other WMD.
or possibly an autoimmue problem after exposure.. the syndrome of toxin induced autoimmune disease is similar to GWS, and this article goes into the physiology:
pdf LINK

Attention conspiracy theorists: it mentions the Garasil problems in the article...

friends of mine who went to that war remember hearing the nerve gas alarms going off during SCUD attacks, but then being told they were false alarms.  The suspicion is that the dose wasn't enough to kill them, but the small doses induced long term autoimmune probblems.

luckily fr r me, female problems requiring surgery and obesity causing hormones made me overweight so I resigned the year before the war...

they were epecting 40 thousand casualties from that war, because of the nerve gas. What probably stopped major use of Sarin was that Dan Quale "made a mistake" and mentioned in public that there were plans to Nuke Baghdad if nerve gas was used.

But of course, small amounts of sarin in the scuds also should have caused similar syndrome in Israelis...and the Kurds, who got major nerve gas attacks, also had evidence of neurological sequella.
well, DUHHHH...

Higher nurse to patient ratios result in fewer deaths.

or you could just cut the amount of paper work they do to please the bureaucrats.

and the most important research article of the day, from Improbable research:

the history of of trained dancing chickens.

In 1941, Skinner, the highly-influential behavioral scientist and father of operant conditioning, began working on Project Pigeon, a classified effort to train pigeons to help guide glide bombs for the Navy, with funding from General Mills, Inc. ...While the Pigeon Project never took off, the Brelands saw the money-making potential of using positive reinforcement to train animals. They bought a small farm in Mound, Minnesota, and began training various animals in their barn. Their company, Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE), launched in 1943 and among their clients was General Mills. The couple put together a trained chicken show for the company’s farm-feed division, Larro Feed, and trained Larro salespeople on their techniques. The shows were seen at feed stores across the country and were a hit.

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