November 28, 2020

STRONGER, BUT LESS VERSATILE: Neanderthals’ thumbs were well-suited to ‘squeeze,’ study says. “The paper, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, said Neanderthals were well-adapted to grip tools the way we grab hammers — but would have struggled to hold a pencil or shake hands with someone else.”

NOW OUT FROM VIRGINIA POSTREL: The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World.

MICROBIOME NEWS: Gut microbes: The key to normal sleep. Gut flora seem to be the key to a lot of things.

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NEWS YOU CAN USE: Just Put the F*cking Turkey in the Oven.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: SIG SAUER Cross Recall. “Sig Sauer has viewed an online video that presents a single CROSS Bolt-Action Rifle with a potential safety concern. This gun has been returned to Sig Sauer and upon evaluation it has been confirmed that the rifle exhibited a delayed discharge after the trigger was pulled. Sig Sauer has decided to issue a safety recall in order to implement a modification to the firing action to address this potential safety concern.”

ROLL OVER THOMAS THE TANK: Intelino is the new Smart Train in the Toy World.

Over at the PJ Media Lifestyle section, I have a review of the Intelino Smart Train, which I first observed in action at the start of the year at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and wrote about here at Instapundit.


AP SOUNDS THE ALARM: Biden’s win hides a dire warning for Democrats in rural U.S.

Democrats once dominated Koochiching County in the blue-collar Iron Range of northern Minnesota. But in this month’s presidential election, President Donald Trump won it with 60% of the vote.

That’s not because voters there are suddenly shifting to the right, said Tom Bakk, who represents the area in the state Senate. It’s because, he said, Democrats have steadily moved too far to the left for many rural voters.

“We’ve got to see if we can get the Democratic Party to moderate and accept the fact that rural Minnesota is not getting more conservative,” said Bakk, who announced last week that he would become an independent after serving 25 years as a Democrat. “It’s that you guys are leaving them behind.”

While Democrats powered through cities and suburbs to reclaim the White House, the party slid further behind in huge rural swaths of northern battlegrounds. The party lost House seats in the Midwest, and Democratic challengers in Iowa, Kansas, Montana and North Carolina Senate races, all once viewed as serious threats to Republican incumbents, fell, some of them hard.

Though Democrats’ rural woes aren’t new, they now heap pressure on Biden to begin reversing the trend. Failure to do so endangers goals such as curbing climate change and winning a Senate majority, especially with GOP Senate seats in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin up in 2022.

“The pressure for Democrats has to be on conveying an economic message for rural America,” said Iowa Democrat John Norris, a former candidate for governor. “We have a great one to convey, but we haven’t put enough emphasis on it.”

Gee, I’m not sure that “learn to code” has the flyover country selling power the left thinks it has.

THIS COULD BE BIG: Protein regulating inflammation in atherosclerosis identified.

GOOGLE IS A CULT? I JUST CAN’T SEE IT MYSELF: YouTube Celebrates “Unthanksgiving” Instead of Thanksgiving.

WE SHOULD PUT ITS REPLACEMENT ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON, AS GOD AND ROBERT HEINLEIN INTENDED: World’s most powerful radar telescope at Arecibo will be scrapped.

AT AMAZON, Black Friday Deals Galore.


Elon Musk said in a follow-up tweet on Wednesday that lots could go wrong in this first high-altitude test. “Lot of things need to go right,” the billionaire said. When asked on Twitter what he thought the odds were of Starship landing in one piece, he answered “1-in-3.”

He’s willing to learn through iterative failure. NASA is not, which is why he’s progressing so much faster.

UPDATE: My friend Dale Amon comments on Facebook:

Just got around to watching the Nov 24 launch. 7th landing for that particular Falcon 9. They are building experience. I wonder what the life span is going to turn out to be?

I’m quite sure that is a question that many folk are looking forward to finding out. You can design your arse off, but it doesn’t matter a whit until you actually do the testing.

I’ve been smiling for quite some time about how Elon has solved the problem which everyone has been complaining about for decades. Flight rate. How do you get enough business? The answer is to start another business that makes a lot of money and is a regular customer. The beauty of Starlink isn’t just that it is a money maker. It is also that it is going to require a continuous high rate of satellite replacement since these things are all in LEO and not intended for 20 year runs like the billion dollar GEO sats.

More importantly, with the rate of technology progression still accelerating (hey, that singularity ain’t so far off any more!) you actually want assets that are upgradeable or replaceable, because otherwise you are stuck with last week’s tech and losing market to the guy who launched this week’s tech.

Watch for Starlink service to improve at a jaw dropping rate.

Excellent point.

ANOTHER UPDATE (Charlie): Here’s a tease from my upcoming Stack Overflow blog article:

This is the world of the SpaceX Starlink program. According to SpaceX, the Starlink program has two purposes:
* To provide fast, reliable Internet connectivity to the billions of people who don’t have it now,
* and to use the revenues to make life interplanetary.
Stop and contemplate that for a moment: world-wide Internet to provide the revenue needed to colonize the planets. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, along with Tesla, the Boring Company, and many others, is not a man who sets easy goals.

NOT ONLY IS 2020 STRANGER THAN WE IMAGINED, IT IS STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE: South Africa considers ‘dimming’ the sun to avoid running out of water.

It sounds like a plot lifted from a science fiction flick, but scientists have suggested permanently dimming the sun to save South Africa from deadly dry spells.

The hairbrained scheme would involve pumping vast quantities of gas into the atmosphere above Cape Town to preserve local water supplies.

It evokes the plot of 2007 sci-fi movie sunshine, in which scientists head off on a daring mission to reignite the dying sun with a nuclear bomb in 2057.

Put forward by experts at the University of Cape Town, it’s hoped the plan would dramatically reduce the chances of a water crisis engulfing the city.

Fears over a “Day Zero” drought – the point at which there’s not enough water for everyone – hitting the region have been brewing for years.

With the climate crisis tightening its grip on our planet, the chances of such a dry spell hitting Cape Town will triple by 2100, according to research.

In a study published last week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists outlined one bonkers way to avoid such a catastrophe.

The plan is controversial, South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian reports, both due to its climate impacts and geopolitical implications.

In their paper, the researchers suggest injecting particles of sulfur dioxide gas into Earth’s upper atmosphere above Cape Town.

The gas would form a huge cloud above the city that reflects sunlight, dimming the environment on the ground below.

According to researchers, the sci-fi tactic could reduce the chances of a Day Zero drought hitting Cape Town by 2100 by up to 90 percent.

Former Obama “Science” “Czar” Robert Holdren, your time to shine (or in this case, reduce it) has come at last!


NOT ONLY IS 2020 STRANGER THAN WE IMAGINED, IT IS STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE: Deer steals hunter’s gun, probably gearing up for the Apocalypse.