24 April 2019

Copper scorpion

Found in an Arizona mine; photographed at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.  Photo cropped for size from the original.

Unsettling financial news from Canada

As reported by BNNBloomberg:
The number of Canadians who are $200 or less away from financial insolvency every month has climbed to 48 per cent, up from 46 per cent in the previous quarter, in a sign of deteriorating financial stability for many people in the country, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos for insolvency firm MNP Ltd. and released Monday, also found that 35 per cent of Canadians say an interest rate increase would move them towards bankruptcy, while 54 per cent said they worry about their ability to repay debts...

Ipsos, which conducts the quarterly poll for MNP, surveyed 2,070 Canadians online from March 13-24. 
Ipsos is a global market research and a consulting firm headquartered in Paris, but I note the survey was conducted for an insolvency firm.  The sampling of 2000 Canadians online raises questions as to how those participants were selected (or self-selected).

The sentiment is similar to a report last year indicating that 40% of Americans can't come up with $400 for an emergency.  That survey was conducted by the Federal Reserve Board.

Found the Ipsos report.  The brief methodology paragraph indicates that interviews were done as well as the oline questionnaire:
For this survey, a sample of 1,582 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Rami Malek and Freddy Mercury - side by side

Rami Malek is said to have viewed Queen's Live Aid show 1,500 times while he was preparing to re-enact the performance.

In stitches

I've always been fascinated by caterpillars spinning and manipulating their  silk.   A variety of species stitch leaves together; this one apparently made use of a pre-existing fold in a  piece of lawn-chair fabric.  Via.

See:  The American Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis)

Secularism in Europe

The burning of Notre Dame prompted a Washington Post columnist to present recent data on church attendance in Europe:
At Notre Dame’s much younger sister church in Bordeaux (construction began in 1684), Easter Mass was well attended. But in his homily the priest noted that the church now has only two Sunday masses; he could remember when there were seven. And for the first time in 15 years, there was not one new priest ordained in the diocese. Bordeaux, he said, was lucky; some French dioceses have not seen any ordinations in 20 years.

France was once one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. Today, while 64 percent of French people still identify as Christian, only 5 percent attend church regularly and just 1 in 10 pray daily. The younger generation is even less attached to the faith of their fathers. According to a study by the Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society, only 26 percent of French young adults consider themselves Christians, and 65 percent say they never pray. The same sad story is playing out across the rest of Europe. The study found only three countries — Poland, Portugal and Ireland — where more than 1 in 10 young people said they attend a religious service weekly.

The situation in the United States is somewhat better: 39 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of evangelicals attend church services once a week, and even more say they go a few times a month. But the numbers are in decline among the young as well. Only 11 percent of younger millennials are weekly churchgoers, while 16 percent more go either once or twice a month, or a few times a year. The secular tsunami that has swept Europe is making its way across the Atlantic.

22 April 2019

Imagine how deep the water is at this dock

Filmed in Alaska.  Worth clicking the fullscreen icon at lower right.

Yoda bookend


A temple older than Stonehenge - way, WAY older - updated

When people think of the history of "civilization," the earliest identifiable distinct culture is that of Sumer, founded around 6000 B.C. The Egyptian pyramids, the Olmecs of the New World, the first dynasties of China all came later - millennia later. The bluestones weren't erected at Stonehenge until about 3000 B.C.

The November 2008 issue of Smithsonian has a fascinating report about excavations on the Turkish/Syrian border of a temple complex that dates to 9000 B.C., which would place it as about contemporary with the earliest rubble at Jericho. Gobekli Tepe has extensive construction and architecture, including circles of carved standing stones, created by people who apparently still lived as hunter-gatherers.

It's hard to conceive of the antiquity of this site just reading the "B.C." numbers. Think of it this way:
"There's more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today."
For those interested in such things, this is mind-boggling.

More info at the links. Image credit to Archaeology.org

Addendum: another article on this site here, with pix and speculation relating it to the legend of the Garden of Eden.

Reposted from 2009 because of this new report from the BBC:
Researchers compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe. The Neolithic inhabitants were descended from populations originating in Anatolia (modern Turkey) that moved to Iberia before heading north. They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Details have been published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

In addition to farming, the Neolithic migrants to Britain appear to have introduced the tradition of building monuments using large stones known as megaliths. Stonehenge in Wiltshire was part of this tradition.

Chemotherapy nails

Via the MildlyInteresting subreddit, where others share their experiences.

The underground city of Derinkuyu, Turkey

In 1963, an inhabitant of Derinkuyu (in the region of Cappadocia, central Anatolia, Turkey), knocking down a wall of his house cave, discovered amazed that behind it was a mysterious room that he had never seen, and this led him room to another and another and another to it ... By chance he had discovered the underground city of Derinkuyu, whose first level could be excavated by the Hittites around 1400 BC

Archaeologists began to explore this fascinating underground city abandoned. It managed to forty meters deep, but is believed to have a fund of up to 85 meters. At present 20 levels have been discovered underground. Only eight can be visited at the highest levels; others are partially blocked or restricted to archaeologists and anthropologists who study Derinkuyu.

The city was used as a refuge for thousands of people living in the basement for protection from the frequent invasions suffered Cappadocia, at various times of their occupation, and by the early Christians.

The city benefited from the existence of an underground river, water wells and had a wonderful ventilation system (52 wells have been discovered vents) that amazes engineers today.
Text credit and photos here (original sources have undergone linkrot).  Wiki here. Reddit here.

Reposted from 2008 to add this newer and vastly improved image - 

 - which enlarges with a click.  Via.

Found in the white of an egg

Apparently these are incidental calcium concretions.  Relevant discussion at Backyard Chickens, via.

The "Jeopardy" buzzer

Pictured above is a practice one created by now-legendary James Holzhauer, whose current record-breaking performance is attributed in part to his buzzer skills.
On Wednesday, James—in keeping with Jeopardy! house style, let’s assume we’re on a first-name basis—set a new record for one-day Jeopardy! winnings with a total of $131,127, surpassing a record that he set scarcely a week ago when he obliterated the previous high of $77,000 set by Roger Craig in 2010 with a total of $110,914. Since his streak began on April 4, James has amassed $697,787; he now has the first, second, third, and fourth spots on the one-day record list (after winning $89,158 and $106,181 in two other games), and is in second place in all-time regular-season Jeopardy! earnings behind Ken Jennings, who reached $2,520,700 over a still-unrivaled 74 games in 2004. James, 34, is winning more, faster, than any contestant ever has...

“If you put random people up there on Jeopardy!, the most important thing would be who knows the answers,” says Jennings. “But with players that good, buzzer timing really becomes what tends to separate the winner from the non-winners.”..
Buzzer tips in the longread at The Ringer.
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