TNET 43: Chess Anyone?

I did not know that there was an Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities, but I think it is a good idea.

The chess community has a long and unpleasant history of sexism and elitism, so it is good to see that the problems are being recognized by the current top chess brass and some progress towards the sport being more inclusive is being made.

I have learned to play chess at the age of five before I learned to read. I have always thought that I am no good at it because I was mostly playing with my father and my brother, neither of whom I could defeat with any reasonable frequency. I still could not beat my brother well into my thirties. That did discourage me a lot, especially since my brother – who was a competitive player, albeit not a top one – remarked often “OOH, you are starting with Italian today”. This always irritated me because I was never able to remember the names of beginnings, except those where the name was logically bound to the position on the board (like King’s Gambit, Four Knights). My memory does not work that way, rote memorization was always nigh impossible for me.

Anyhoo, in the spring of this year, I have created an account on and I started to play regularly. And since online gaming does match people with opponents of approximately the same strength, I am not losing all the time. And I have found out two things. First – I am definitively not at a competitive level, no surprise there. Second – I have Dunning-Kruegered myself, I am not as bad as I thought – I am in the top quintile, so I could probably win four out of five matches with random casual players.

If anyone is interested in chess and would like to play, let me know.

Open thread, talk whatever you want, but assholery is not allowed.

Previous thread.


  1. Gelaos says

    I was mostly playing with my father and my brother, neither of whom I could defeat with any reasonable frequency

    He, he, been there (well, I still am). I could almost always beat my brother but almost never my father (who isn’t at a competitive level, but is quite good).

    I remember one game with him -- mostly I was in defense (as usual), however it was one of my better matches with him. But eventually I knew that I’m going to loose, only question was when. So I tried a couple of moves, to no significant avail. Then he smiled at me and said: “Have you ever seen checkmate by pawn?” I was looking at the board and thinking “What the hell is he talking about? There’s no way, that he can…. OH NO!” He moved one pawn (“a pawn, damnit” I thought) and checkmated me.

    When I asked him how did I do, he said “Well, I really had to stop and think after some of your moves.” I took it that at least I put up a little fight :D

  2. says

    I learned chess from my grandpa (I still have his board and pieces) and the old fellow even managed to cheat at chess. How do you do that? Well, when teaching a young child how to play chess, you start with simplified rules, like no castling, or getting your queen back by moving a pawn all up the board. My grandpa would introduce those rules one by one, always in a situation where it was to his advantage. Imagine thinking that for one you can beat your grandpa within the next few moves, just for him to say “and now I’ll show you what castling is”.
    Later in life his best buddy was the chess computer and I think that was a decisive factor, along with reading*, that kept his mind fully alert until he died.
    * The dreaded sound of grandpa shuffling upstairs, coming in and asking my mother for something to read…
    Damn, now I’m all nostalgic.

    #1 to me: “Mum, there’s a song in my playlist where I can sing all the lines perfectly and beautifully!”
    Me: “It’s an instrumental”

  3. says

    Rant incoming
    I am about to lose it with my BFF. I get it, she’s lonely. But she’s also fucking wrong. Her idea is that Covid spread is basically tied to the seasons, and since nothing will change that. Because if we could change things, we should do them. Pointing out that the second wave hit Italy and Spain basically in late summer did nothing. Pointing to the countries that have basically eliminated Covid, even during winter, did nothing.
    Yesterday I was feeling low because the recommendations about who gets the vaccine when have basically pushed teachers to the end of the line. I mean, I shouldn’t have felt that betrayed by people who have sold us down the river in schools since the school year started, but I did. And I did what people do, I turned to my friends for some support, but who’s the victim? Her, because I won’t meet them. And they want to restrict New Year’s Eve parties again, isn’t that cruel?

  4. says

    And why did I post this already?
    The fuck, you don’t have to restrict my New Year’s Eve celebration, because I’m responsible enough to not fucking have a party! I wouldn’t attend any party and I’m pretty much isolating in my free time because I work in school with basically no protection and lots of cases (next class in quarantine today), while she is sitting in her nice, safe office and can say “oh, I have a really low risk of getting Covid, why can’t I meet my friends?”
    But what really, really almost made me lose it was her refusal to drop it. I said “OK, let’s drop it” and she went “I’m just realistic” (Spoiler, she isn’t). me: “No, you’re having an opinion” and she went on. I repeated “Really, let’s drop it” and she kept going on. So I told her we’d be having a serious fight if she insisted going on. I am probably now oppressing and cancelling her, but that’s her problem. I love her, I truly do, but I’m really fed up with her right now as well.

  5. says

    @Giliell, my sympathies on your friend trouble as well on your government tossing teachers under the bus. In my opinion, teachers should be second in line behind health and social workers, because they unavoidably work with large groups of people in enclosed spaces.

    The pandemic is really stretching many relationships to the limit. I have probably lost at least one friend to Covidiocy, and that is the one that I know of. Bog knows how many people in my circle will turn out to be conspiracy nuts later on. I only hope that my sister in law and brother take the explanations I gave them in the summer to heart, they were on the precipice of conspiracy thinking.

  6. Jazzlet says

    I’m sorry your friend is being so blinkered and I hope the relationship can survive the continuing strains brought about by the whole situation around SARS-COV2. Have some hugs, it’s horrid to row with a good friend.

    Here the Government’s attempt to change the vaccination priority list proposed by the scientists lead to such an outcry that they relented and are following the rational order for once. While not top of the list teachers certainly aren’t at or near the bottom.

  7. says

    It isn’t like she’s a Covid denier, she’s more of a Covid measures denier. She is, deep in her soul, a centrist. Therefore, radical steps necessary to combat Covid are bad to her. And honestly, thinking shit through has never been her strong suit. She’s a lawyer, which I guess adds to it: In law, there aren’t many hard facts but interpretations and negotiations and compromises. But a virus doesn’t compromise. It’s a force of nature, not a neighbour with whom you’re squabbling about the height of the hedge.
    As I said, she firmly believes that most measures have no influence on the numbers anyway. I mean, of course the colder temperatures correlate with the second wave, and they drive people inside, but the second wave hit Spain and Italy, with much warmer temperatures weeks before it hit Germany…
    But what worries me is her shift in language. She talks about how “they want to lock us up” “I’m not going to be locked up” when in reality no “locking up” ever happened here. Even during the first lockdown you were always allowed to leave your home. I got colleagues in France who were strictly regulated as to when and how they could leave their homes when she could just always walk out the door. And also talking about “what Merkel wants” as if Ms Merkel were actually the great dictator the Covidiots and conspiracy theorists would like her to be. You can blame our chancellor for many things. Sadly, pushing through despite of protest isn’t one of them, because as a trained scientist she does have a pretty clear view and has pushed for much harder measures.

    Thanks, Jazzlet

  8. StevoR says

    A better title here would be “When did lizards take over the world?” Answer : Probly later than you’d think -- with a Sphenodontian lizard imposter twist. Good youtube mini-doco here :

    Spectacles coming up soon in the skies :


    So hoping the forecast clouds here do clear at least a bit so I and others can see these.

  9. says

    Giliell, I’m very glad that you aten’t dead. I hope there’s some fun busy in there. I’m setting up Minerva’s 2021 calendar, which requires glitter highlighters, and later on washi tapes, rubberstamps, and stickers. (Minerva is my Filofax)

    We have Roto-rooter visiting today. Turns out that the St Augustine grass invaded, blocked, and actually cracked a sewer line pipe. Fortunately I’ve been frugal and was able to pay down the credit card enough when we refinanced the mortgage so there’s leeway to have it fixed today.

  10. says

    @Giliell, good to hear that. In these times any good news is welcome.

    I just drove over 800 km in two days carting my parents to/from different hospitals. And although I am not dead too, I feel like it is a close call. I am so tired I cannot even eat and the only reason why I am not asleep yet is that I would then probably wake up at 4 a.m. so I am doing my best to keep awake till at least 10 p.m.

  11. Ice Swimmer says

    Charly & Giliell good to hear you aren’t dead. Sweet dreams when for you have the time to sleep and recuperate.

    Charly, 800 km (4 * 200 km), that’s a lot in a country with not that large a land area (compared to Finland you have twice the population in a quarter of the area). And a lot of driving in any country.

  12. voyager says

    That’s a lot of driving, Charly, even for Canada. I hope you’re all recovering.

    Well, Canada’s closed our borders to the Brits because of the new Covid 2 and Ontario is going into a province wide but-down at 12:01 am December 26th because Covid 1 is out of control. So Christmas shopping and gatherings are fine, we’ll just deal with the fallout in 2 weeks.

  13. Ice Swimmer says

    In the west coast of Finland, a guy woke up one night five years ago and thought that instead of slipping and falling over on icy pavements, dogs could do their daily exercise in a dog tunnel during the winter. The idea is kind of an opposite to a ski tunnel. The dog tunnel is 80 meters long and the bone-shaped track inside is about 200 m. A vet states that the exercise dogs get in the tunnel is much better for them than trying to walk on icy pavements, as the dogs can run properly in the tunnel instead of tiptoeing tensely on the ice outdoors.

  14. Gelaos says

    Finally, the sh*tstorm called “2020” ended I am looking forward to 2021, hoping that things will be at least a bit better. And, well, right on the second day I found out that a mild form of “covidiocy” finally reached one of my relatives. Paradoxically it’s my only relative with a university-level pharmaceutical education. She wrote “I don’t think that vaccine is the only way to return to normal life.” which has some sense, but then continued “I can and will smile even without vaccine.”, followed by a series of “their taking our freedom” rants, plus a few red herrings. Oh well…

  15. says

    @Gelaos, my sympathies, that might be a mild form of covidiocy if it is accompanied by recognizing the severity of the disease itself -- there are cases around the world where governments use real problems to restrict people’s freedoms unreasonably (including some “anti-terrorist” measures introduced in the USA after 9/11).
    However I do not think that the Czech government is unreasonably restricting people’s freedoms, quite the opposite, If they restricted our freedoms sooner and more strictly, we could enjoy more freedom now. It was the lack of freedom restrictions early on that has led to the necessity of longer and even more strict measures now.
    If, however, your relative denies the severity of the disease, then the case of covidiocy is not mild and I would argue that if it progresses, it should lead to their diploma being revoked. Seriously, these people piss me off. For example that daft cow Peková has indirectly killed people this year with her insistence that the second wave definitively won’t come. She should be ashamed of herself and she should be shunned by the scientific and medical community until she publicly apologizes for trivializing serious public health risk.

  16. says

    Ice Swimmer
    Looks like the floor has nice soft mulch which will probably be a treat for dogs with joint issues. Makes me wonder, has anybody ever considered running wheels for dogs?
    We have a bit of winter here as well, though so far it’s been mostly dark, which is getting on my nerves.

    My sympathies. I think at some level all we can do is try to protect ourselves. Of course the aim with the vaccine is to reach herd immunity and the covidiots and anti vaxxers will benefit from it as usually. My pessimistic scenario is that we’ll reach quite some levels of vaccination, but not high enough levels. that will mean local outbreaks, much like with measles, which will then hurt vulnerable people who cannot be vaccinated. I couldn’t care less if some unvaccinated by choice person dies of Covid, but they always affect others.

    re: freedom
    Surprisingly, I’m not someone who’d like to live under a conservative authoritarian government. Having a uterus and some not so conservative political ideas, I know what that means for me. And actually, I’ve been living by much harder rules than whatever the government implemented since March, because I’m nit a fucking idiot. But talking about idiots, this weekend authorities had to close the skiing areas because masses of people tried to get there. Not only is it completely nuts to practise a sport with such a high risk of fractured bones when hospitals are at their ends already, but also it’s no use exercising outdoors if that means standing close, close, close to each other for 56 minutes per hour for 4 minutes downhill.


    She should be ashamed of herself and she should be shunned by the scientific and medical community until she publicly apologizes for trivializing serious public health risk.

    She should get married to Hendrik Streek, a German virologist who talks much of the same bullshit. There would be no second wave, there is no second wave, 200 dead a day (it’s now a good day when it’s less than 1.000) is scaremongering, we also have to talk about more than just the number of deaths…
    But he said what people wanted to hear, so they believed him. Contrast this with poor Prof. Drosten, who is the best expert we have (he developed the PCR test the whole world uses). As somebody said: Streek wants to be right, but never is, while Drosten doesn’t want to be right, but unfortunatly is. Like Cassandra he told us about the second wave, about schools,a bout lockdowns, but nobody wanted to listen.

    Well, Mr just said goodbye after two and a half weeks at home. I must say, while I did miss my firends and family, we’ve never had such a relaxed christmas time and New Ywar’s Eve. We went for lots of walks, got some things done around here…
    I do look forward to a quiet night, though. Not only does my beloved husband occasionally snore, he is now also very good at either ignoring my gentle demands to stop or alternatively hold full conversations about his “supposed” snoring while being fast asleep…
    We still have at least one week of distance learning, I hope they extend that, especially with the new, British mutation that spread through schools like a wildfire…

  17. Jazzlet says

    Mr J snores too, he realised how bad it was when I broke the tip off my left collar bone. I sleep on my left side, every time I rolled on to it in my sleep the pain woke me, then I could not get back to sleep because of the irregular snoring, finally I’d manage to doze off only to roll on to my left side again … all night long. After two weeks of inadequate sleep I was blowing up at the slightest thing, I was angry all the time, and Mr J decided something had to be done. He bought himslef a Snorban (I’m sure other brands are available), it’s a bit like a mouthguard, you put it in hot water then clench your teeth with your bottom jaw a little forward and it sets when it’s cooled. Because it holds your jaw just a little forward it holds your soft palate more open so the snoring is far far quieter. I don’t know if Mr would be prepared to wear one, but if he is it might make a difference. Mr J finds wearing it means he sleeps better too, so it ended up being a win all round. I can tell if he hasn’t put it in when I’m down here -- he hasn’t tonight and I can hear the snores as I’m typing this in the room below!

  18. says

    Mr already wears a mouthpiece to stop himself from grinding his teeth into expensive dust. It’s not just good old fashioned snoring. He’s got a ton of, let’s call it “interesting breathing sounds”. For example, most people breathe like this: in-out-break-in-out-break.
    He’ll do it like this: in-hold your breath- out with a sound like pulling the plug on an air mattress while lying on top- in -- …
    Last week he managed a whole new set of noises. It woke me up since I thought there were some animals fighting in the street. Apparently his nose was a little clogged, but he still breathed out through it so it sounded like he was blowing his nose with every breath. Being married sure comes with a lot of fun learning experiences…

  19. StevoR says

    So I wake up today and on the radio (yes old tech) comes news of an attempted coup in the United States of America. & .. &.. that is all and that is also too much and that is both so unexpected and so predictable.

    Trump needs to be impeached again right now. Then removed from power. Then arrested and sent directly to jail. Then tried and convicted and spend the rest of his empty, deplorable, miserable life in jail. Inciting the rioting being the least of his charges. Will that happpen? Hoping so. Doubtful but.

  20. StevoR says

    Gather Ilhan Omar is working on that :

    Plus apparenty even the Repubs are belatedly turning and now thinking of trying the 25th ..

    Plus Biden it seems is certified -- as POTUS at last and despite even now TFP repub objections :

  21. StevoR says

    So anyone still reckon today that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the woman who got 3 million more votes than he did and beat him 48% to 46% in 2016’s 1person 1 vote count would have been equally as bad as POTUS?

  22. StevoR says

    Meanwhile for anyone else in Adelaide, Sth Oz (& know a few others likely reading this are) :

    New year, same old, continuing indefinite torture of innocent refugees by our disgusting, sadistic, incompetent, wasteful, criminal excuse for a government.

    Same resistance and vigil by good people standing up against that too. Please join us. Please help us.

    Adelaide Refugee Vigil, 5pm Parlt house steps and Rundle Mall.

    Adelaide Vigil members invite you to join us on Friday 8th for this week’s vigil, meeting at Parliament House steps, North Terrace and walking to the intersection of Rundle Mall and Gawler Place at 5.05 -- 5.10pm to stand publicly in support of refugees now in their eighth year of detention or immigration limbo, prevented from achieving safe resettlement despite their ever increasing need for it.

    We will stand together in a central position for the following hour, distributing updated information about the situation of those who have been the target of the punitive “No Advantage” policy. We will maintain social distancing and Covid_19 awareness and safe practice.In hot weather, please wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring your own water bottle. Sunglasses are also recommended. Please join us in standing for the freedom, safety and human rights of the refugees the Australian government wants us to forget, with hundreds still being held in inhumane conditions after 7 years of punishment on #Manus, #Nauru and now also PNG and Australian Immigration Detention.

    The only laws that have been broken in their seeking of asylum are those which Australia itself has an international obligation to uphold, through its signing of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

    Plus see : & Adelaide vigil for Manus and Nauru on fb if you are on that.

    Meanwhile :

    Rivers are changing colours seen from space and what that means ain’t good.

    (Doubt this is purely a USA phenomenon too.Vale Amu Darya, Syr Darya. Darling / Barka river.)

    Oh and we’re closing in on the age of our cosmos but puzzles still remain :

  23. StevoR says

    So finally, after all the hatred, all the incitement, all the multitudinous, outright lies, Twitter has at long, loo-ong last banned Trump from using its platform. Which will no doubt have the rightwing Trump Toddlers howling about free speech or as its been dubbed elsewhere for years “Freezepeach!”
    These are the people that will quote the paraphrase commonly misattributed to François-Marie Arouet better known by his penname Voltaire : “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” (Actually written by historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall in 1909 -- under her pseudonymn of S. G. Tallentyre.)
    Oddly (or not?); its a line they seem to overlook very easily when someone the dislike or don’t support is saying something they personally dislike or even hate -- exhibit A here : Yassmin Abdel-Magied but also Bob Brown’s anti-Adani convoy, Black Lives Matter activists, The Piss Christ artist, Extinction Rebellion protesters, anti-Iraq war protesters, etc… I’d take the rightwing Freezepeachers brigade more seriously & respect them more if I saw them live up to their own claims and stand up for those who are outspoken on the Left over things they actually disgaree with themselves rather than reflexively spouting it when defending racists like convicted race hate preacher Bolt and Cronulla riot inciter Alan “chaffbag” Jones and Trump.
    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that 18th century French atheist satirist who believed in separation of Church and State and supported science and who wrote favourably of the Incans and Native Americans didn’t have Trump’s twitter feed in mind when talking free speech there in the writings that would be eventually be distilled down to become the saying Evelyn Hall famously wrote.
    Plus the thing is, speech has never been without restrictions. For starters, we’re not the USA with its First Amendment admirable as that may be and even there there are & always have been reasonable limits. Twitter isn’t govt and our society, our social context more broadly helps determine what can and can’t be said. Society says that you cannot lie and incite hatred and violence without facing serious consequences for that. That if you lie and incite violence you won’t be allowed to keep doing so or stay at all in many places because, y’know, a lot of places have basic standards over what is acceptable and hate speech has real impacts on real people and causes real harm.
    Do the FreezePeachers really think that think anyone should be allowed to say absolutely anything, anywhere like a maths teacher saying Pi = exactly 3 not 3.1415926535…. etc.. That military people can tell everyone worldwide about the classified military secret weaknessses of their forces, journos can just make up anything regardless of libel laws and people can shout “fire!” in crowded non-burning theatres? That in a pub someone who comes in yelling and shouting abuse cannot be kicked out? That people can’t, oh yeah, incite attacks on the American HQ of Democracy in order to stay in office despite losing an election in a landslide?
    We saw where hate speech, disinformation, incitement and demonisation leads the other day in Washington -- as we saw it before in Rwanda’s genocide and in the mass grave of Srebrenica’s Bosnian Muslims and in, yes, Fascist Europe in the 1930’s. We’ve seen where it leads here in the Cronulla riots in my lifetime and in anti-Chinese riots plus more in our history.
    Yes, society can and should place limits on what extremists and polemicists can do when it comes to attacking others and when it comes to companies setting reasonable limits on how their corporate platforms can be used.
    Media platforms have been used by the right wing, by Rupert Murdoch and fbs founder and others to make our world far less safe and much worse over the past few decades. They, Fox News esp, brainwashed enough people into hating Hillary Clinton and voting for Trump instead in 2016. They empowered Trump’s extremist cult of, yes, nazis and Klansfolk and made them fall into the toxic delusions that led to their assault on the US Capitol in his attempted coup. They created the power keg that Trump’s words sparked the other day. They need to be finally be held accountable for their actions in creating this current crisis. They need to be changed and chained and checked so they no longer do this again. So that this doesn’t happen again. Murdoch’s malign empire needs to end and be broken up.
    As for Trump’s cult followers, yes, they have individual responsibility too and yes, they can and will be stopped and where necessary and appropriate arrested if they keep trying to conduct a coup d’etat and committing and threatening to committ other crimes. Hopefully in jail they might be deprogrammed from their dangerous and erroneous brain-washing. But would they have thought and acted as they did without the long, awful poisonings of their mind and the diet of lies they swallowed?
    Words can do a lot of real damage, a culture of persistent trolling and incitemnet and demonisation leads to places we don’t want to go where a lot of innocent people die and a lot of avoidable harm occurs. Lies like Trump’s about the election he lost, lies told by the antivaxxers and antimaskers about Covid, lies told by coal-powered Climatology Deniers about Global Overheating, those are dangerous and deadly perhaps more even than physical weapons in how they change our world. They do need to be called out and stopped and opposed -- frozen peaches or not.
    There may not be anything “unsayable” by definition because to think of it is to be “saying” it in one form or other but not all things can or should be said and things that are said will have consequences for the atmosphere they create and the world they shape.
    Finally, just phew. It will be such a releif and a good thing that Trump will no longer use Twitter to spread such constant misery and constant lying. Twitter, what took you so long?

  24. StevoR says

    Meanwhile on another arguably more important topic :

    Last year was the joint hottest globally and by far the warmest year recorded in Europe, making the years from 2015 onwards the warmest six on record. ..(snip).. Global average temperatures tied with 2016 at 0.6°C above the long-term average – despite the absence of an El Niño event, a climate phenomenon that has a warming effect. There was an El Niño in 2016. ..(snip).. the UK Met Office today said it expects carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere this year to pass the milestone of being 50 per cent higher than before the industrial revolution, reaching 417 parts per million..

    Read more:

    On to something completely diferent and this is rather staggering to contemplate :

    When it comes to a thousand odd red gaint stars getting literally blown away -- at least their outer atmospheres.

    Oh & if folks want to see another planetary conjunction happening this weekend :

    Low in the southwestern evening sky just 30 to 45 minutes after sundown, we’ll be treated to what might be referred to as a celestial summit meeting, a triple conjunction, with the three planets fitting within a circle smaller than 5 degrees.

    Brilliant Jupiter (magnitude –1.9), medium-bright Mercury (-0.9) and dimmer, yellow-white Saturn (+0.6) will be contained within a 5-degree circle from Jan. 8 to Jan. 12, appearing closest together on Sunday evening (Jan. 10).

    This will be happening in twilight with Saturn being particularly hard to spot so binoculars recommended. Maybe try getting astrophotos if you have the gear for it..

  25. StevoR says

    Mentioned here :

    Progressive SF writer David Brin’s ideas for Biden’s inaugeration :

    What do folks think of those?

    Brin also suggests that the Air Force inform Trump that Air Force One be “down for maintenance” on the day.

    Personally I hope the second Biden (or potentially someone else) is sworn in, Trump gets arrested and sent directly to jail for sedition, inciting a riot, corruption, obstruction of justice, etc.. Ideally after a second impeachment with removal this time or 25th’ing.

    Legal Eagle has this onTrump’s attemptd coup :

    Plus a good clip on the 25th Amendment too.

  26. says

    Week two of distance learning. One teacher, two school kids, three times the fun.
    Today Mr had a day off and tried to help the little one with a zoom call while I was in school.
    He tried so using my PC.
    He tried so using my desktop PC without a camera or microphone.
    He tried so using my desktop PC without a camera or microphone, and without the kid’s Zoom log in.
    I think he qualifies as minister of education.

  27. says

    I have a mildly elevated temperature today. I hope it is nothing serious and is just a reaction to the freezing weather outside. I often have this during winter, but this year I am especially wary about it for some unexplained reason…

  28. Jazzlet says

    I hope your mildly elevated temperature is your usual winter reaction.

    I hope you retain your sanity, if not your temper!

    It is gloriously sunny here today, but I’ll be off to try to get some sleep soon, I had a bad night pain-wise. It gets very frustrating, I’ve sort of been expecting a bad spell as I haven’t had one for a while, but all the same I can’t help being disappointed it has actually happened. Despite all the evidence that it will happen again some part of me still hopes every time that maybe, just maybe, this time the worst of the pain won’t come again, silly I know but I guess that’s hope for you.

  29. StevoR says

    Funny, informative youtube on memes meeting real science by the wonderful Dr Becky Smethurst on her youtube channel :

    Phil Plait on the (carbon dioxide cyrovolcanic) spiders ( araneiforms) from Mars :

    And now for something completely (?) different (?) that some may vaguely recall one jaunty old tune :

  30. says

    Shadow (our tortie) has been going downhill for the last few days. Today she refused food, water, or anything else I offered. I have an urgent appointment with her vet this afternoon.

    I knew it had to happen eventually, she’s almost twenty, but I was hoping for longer with her. This is one of those times I wish I could just have a good cry.

  31. Jazzlet says

    Oh I am so sorry Anne, it never gets any easier. Lots of hugs, I’ve stocked the pillow fort with especially comforting hot chocolate.

  32. says

    Thanks everyone. Shadow’s kidney disease was much worse, her kidneys were failing. We decided to let her go. The vet let me be with her while she went to sleep.

    There will be other cats, and soon as we can find the right ones, but no one like her.

  33. StevoR says

    Oh Anne, Cranky Cat Lady, I am so sorry to read there. I am sure you did the right thing even though it hurts and I’m sure Shadow knew she was loved.

  34. StevoR says

    I came to here to say, I’m cyrrently watching ABC News24 now and the inaugeration / departure coverage.

    Biden’s inaugeration is about 3 am my (South Aussie) time apparently. Not sure I’ll be able to stay awake and see it all insominiac as I am. Hoping so much that that all goes smoothly and to plan and things now start to slowly improve as people work and think their way to making that so.

    Aussie ABC news live blog here :

    If its any consolation it’s already the 21st January 2021 here and we’ve just seen a certain chopper depart the lawn of a building famously once burnt down by the British Army in 1812..14..

    Of course a lot of damage has been done that will take a long while to fix as this ABC Op-ed sums up :

    To the whole planet not just the States of America (yeah deliberate, sorry) that will take a lot of fixing, thefight isn’t over and there’s stilllikely dark days and certainly woories to come.

    But for now, well, somehow this ole 80’s song seems wionderfully apt :

    Somehow this music seems really apt tonight :

    America you’re about to get a POTUS who believes in science and listens to experts again. Carl Sagan’s metaphorical candle just flickered brighter and its precarious flame rose higher again.

  35. StevoR says

    If anyone’s interested in coming and hopefully it helps for a one off special with a big tennis tournament in town the Weekly Adelaide Refugee Vigil is going to be at a different place and time today

    Namely 5.30 pm at the War Memorial Drive details :


    Event by Adelaide vigil for Manus and Nauru
    War Memorial Dr, North Adelaide SA 5006, Australia
    Today at 5:30 PM UTC+10:30 – 6:30 PM UTC+10:30
    23°C Mostly Sunny
    Price: Free · Duration: 1 hr
    Public · Anyone on or off Facebook

    Right now there are people who are refugees imprisoned in detention in Adelaide as well as interstate.
    For 8 years people have been kept in limbo. First detained on either Nauru or PNG, they continue to be held indefinitely in Australia. Unable to build their future. A further 137 people remain offshore in PNG and 127 on Nauru.
    Please join in a protest on Memorial Drive this Friday [NOTE TIME AND LOCATION ARE DIFFERENT FOR THIS WEEK ONLY] We need to raise awareness that people who came to seek safety and protection are still in detention.

    -- Alison

    Source : (Yeah, I know facebook still.)

  36. says

    Well, I have some good thing to tell at least. You remember my BFF who was really testing the strength of our relationship with her Covid measures “skepticism”? She seems to have finally understood that sadly there are no alternatives right now. Maybe her dad catching Covid in a nursing home and his room mate dying of it (her dad thankfully fully recovered) had something to do with it. At least I no longer dread our videochats.

  37. says

    @Giliell, it is an unfortunate and sad part of human nature, that even the most astute and intelligent people often fail to notice a problem unless it starts to affect them directly and personally in some way. One Czech proverb sums it up “The sated do not believe the hungry”.

  38. says

    Well, I don’t know how many “We were stupid, please learn from our mistakes” articles I have now read, and I’m sick and tired of them. It’s not like the people who ignored all advice and regulations didn’t have enough information, it’s just that they ignored it, as will the next people who write a soppy story to redeem themselves will ignore their story.

    My friend told me in our video chat that she told her son that they’d visit his grandma for his birthday*.
    “Whose coming?”, he asked.
    “Just us, the family”
    “So Giliell is coming, too?”
    My heart opened while simultaneously breaking to pieces.
    *There’s Covid regulations and there’s useless cruelty. Saying that either he or his mum can enter his grandparents’ house because only one person is allowed to visit another household isn’t going to stop the spread of Covid while people are still forced into factories and offices.

  39. says

    If we can learn something from history, it is that we do not learn from history. I have said this as a kid aged about eleven-twelve years to my history teacher. As an adult, I have realized that I was cynical back then, but still not cynical enough.

  40. Gelaos says

    Today I stumbled upon a well-known sea shantie Leave her, Johnny, leave her sung by 500 fans of the folk band The Longest Johns. I’ve never heard of this band before, though I know that sea shantie. Videos like this always lift my spirit a bit so I thought I’d share it here.

  41. lumipuna says

    Here’s another painting from my favorite paleoartist, Tom Björklund (top illustration of the story):

    It’s a somewhat speculative reconstruction of a young woman’s burial dress 8200 years ago at the Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov mesolithic graveyard, northwestern Russia. The white pendants are moose teeth (specifically incisors and canines), which seem to have been popular status/ritual decorations. The three orange-ish pendants in the apron are beaver incisors. At the end of story, you can see a photo of moose head stone figurine found from another grave at the same site.

    The Oleniy Ostrov or “Reindeer Island” (Finnish Peurasaari) at Lake Onega has shown relatively good preservation for its many Mesolithic burials, thanks to the calcareous soil. In most parts of northern Europe the soils are acidic and poorly suited for archaeological preservation. It is thought the mesolithic culture as studied at Oleniy Ostrov was roughly similar in nearby regions, such as Finland. For example, a moose head stone figurine has been also discovered in southwestern Finland.

    Here’s a related research article in English:

  42. Jazzlet says

    Fascinating paper.

    The first snowdrops are just showing a hint of white, there is hope!

  43. Tethys says

    Thank you for both links to that fascinating paper. I wish I could read all the papers cited in the bibliography too.

    The use of particular elk teeth as adornment has been noted in many locations across Europe and Asia. I cannot remember the source at the moment, but there are sites in France where the people were carving horse teeth to look like the elk teeth, after the elk had been hunted to extinction in their region.
    I dream of snowdrops and greenery. In reality we have at least two more months of monochromatic snow banks and frozen solid earth before the spring bulbs start emerging. Even the sky is white and constantly cloudy.

  44. voyager says

    I’m so sorry to hear about Shadow. Hugs from me and Jack.

    Thanks for the link. The stuff about ritualized landscapes is fascinating.

  45. says

    I dropped off a pile of catfood and other cat supplies at the vet this morning. It’s all senior cat stuff, so better it go to someone who can use it immediately. Now I’m sad again.

    Thanks for the good wishes, everyone, it helps.

  46. says

    Renewed hugs to Anne.

    Ahhh, health care systems…
    Home office is bad for my spinal discs. Too much sitting at the desk. So I went to my GP, asking if I could please have some physiotherapy before it becomes so bad that I end up in hospital again. Well, no, he’s only allowed to prescribe physiotherapy when it’s so bad I just had been to the hospital…
    At least my my special stool has arrived today, one with a round foot so you’re constantly moving

  47. says

    @Giliell, have you tried kneeling chair or the sitting inflatable balloon? I like to sit on the balloon when doing leatherworks. It is more tiring than sitting on a chair because it forces you constantly keeping balance -- and that means the back muscles do not cramp from keeping the same position for prolonged time.

  48. says

    I decided against a balloon because those things need too much space. I got myself this one, which we also have at school. They’re not cheap, but they’re also made to last, because school furniture specialist.

  49. StevoR says

    Long shot but wondering if anyone here could possibly help?

    For about a year now I’ve been doing an Endangered Species of the the Day on my personal fb page featuring a particular species of fauna, flora or fungi. Some really well known and some really obscure but even for the most least known species I’ve always been able to find a photo or illustration online -- even if only one as in the case of the wonderfully named Gloomy Tube-nosed Bat* (Murina tenebrosa) but now after 317 species I seem to have found one that has absolutely no available, useable photos, Scolecomorphus uluguruensis the Uluguru black caecilia or Nyingwa caecilian, an endangered African amphibian that is something like an underground eel.
    ( )

    For an example of Caecialian amphibians generally see :

    So, is anyone with perhaps better google fu than me or perhaps some relevant zoological knoweldge and expertise willing to help me out here and find a link with a photo and ideally more info that I could use here please?

    * See :

  50. StevoR says

    BTW. If folks are interested, the recent 4 Corners episode here on the Jan 6th Trumpist Attempted Coup is worth watching :

    Coming via this Aussie broadcasters onine article here :

    Whilst for something totally different :

    on the role nudibranches -- sea slugs -- are playing in studtying Global Overheating and more.

  51. says

    We have about -9°C it is supposed to go double that during the night for a week or so. It is good winter weather, but it also, unfortunately, means that skiers are spreading Covid again because they ignore lockdown rules. People seem to think that just because the disease spreads mainly indoors, that they are immune outdoors. Not realizing that a ton of people packed together without facemasks, breathing heavily down each other’s necks negates the positive effect of outdoors. Not to mention that we have no sun currently, and no sun means no UV light and no UV light means the virus can survive outdoors in the cold air for a really, really long time.

  52. lumipuna says

    Snarky responses from a blown out reply-all thread at one of my university’s seminar-related mailing lists:

    I guess the Virus club conducted some new research to determine the digital virality rate of the Helsinki University population.

    Please remove me from the list, but do let me know if the virality rate was statistically significant. Quite interesting to know. Hopefully no mutations occur.

    Regards, [name redacted]

    > I wish to just say thank you all for allowing me to join this “reply-all training” e-mail list.
    > It is nice that our university is now implementing community-driven and problem-based learning on the IT matters.
    > Regards, [name redacted]

  53. lumipuna says

    Now it’s getting deep, man:

    Dear All and Everyone,

    As much as I have stood and fought in even most recent past against promotional email messages, I have to admit that the effort and intention here were only well-wishing and admirable.

    This virus situation makes many of us confuse things. The concept is “social distancing”. It could not be anywhere further from the truth. We need “physical distancing”. Social closeness becomes even more imperative.

    To have access to information is every reasonable person’s wish. Do whatever you please with the information. IT skills will not help ignorance.

    Thank you, [name redacted]!

  54. says

    People are getting bored, eh?

    Don’t talk with teenagers. Don’t try to. Really.
    We ordered replacement parts for the trampoline and alongside a few clothing items for the kids. Because inconveniently they don’t stop growing during lockdown. Kids were supposed to try them on.
    #1: Do they fit me?
    Me: they look good on you!
    #1: Nothing looks good on me!

    Now, honest, do they look good on me?
    Me: Yeah, the pants especially. The cut suits you and makes your butt look great*
    #1: So it needs special pants to make my butt look great!!!!
    Me: …

    *She’s very concerned with her butt. Booty is all in now.

  55. lumipuna says

    A new, more virulent variant of Covid-19 has just made a breakthrough here in Helsinki area, so we apparently need to crank up restrictions to keep deaths at a “reasonable” level. The rest of Finland isn’t nearly as bad, yet. Authorities are debating on whether to crank up restrictions everywhere, or just in Helsinki area for now, and how much. Just like last spring, there confusing public obfuscation between what are orders and what are recommendations. Vaccination schedules keep getting postponed.

    Just now begins a week-long winter break in southern Finland’s schools (it’s scheduled for later in more northern areas). There’s alarm as many families from Helsinki area are planning to travel domestically, often to the northern ski resorts. Yet, there’s no immediate momentum to restrict travel within the country, like we did last spring. People have made their hotel reservations, and aren’t going to get refunds if there’s officially just a “recommendation” to stay home at the last minute. We just have to hope that people really stick to skiing on their skiing trips, as advised.

    (Personally, I suspect if we end up closing bars in Helsinki area only, and there’s no travel restriction, then young people in Helsinki who aren’t into skiing might be more inclined to take weekend “skiing trips” into the provincial parts.)

  56. lumipuna says

    We’re having proper freezing rain, a very rare thing in my area.

    Walking to work tomorrow will be interesting, even with cleats. It will be also windy and moderately cold.

    Later this week we’ll likely get unseasonally mild weather, so the ice might melt.

  57. lumipuna says

    We got only a very thin layer of ice, but it was slippery enough, and will get even more dangerous by tomorrow because there will be some new snow on it. However, with some luck, I don’t have to go out again until the thaw begins.

  58. lumipuna says

    Update: We got some more freezing rain instead of the predicted snowfall. Starting tomorrow, there should be some thaw, maybe not enough to melt the ice but enough to make gritting stick to the ice.

  59. says

    Hi, chigau! “We’re all fine here. How are you?”

    I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine yesterday, so I’m feeling sore of arm and a bit peaky. I’m going back to bed after I finish my tea.

  60. Ice Swimmer says

    chigau @ 75

    I’m fine. I could book a covid vaccination* appointment if the online system weren’t overloaded (I’ll try to do it in night time).

    It isn’t as slippery as lumipuna reported earlier as the ice has melted and softened significantly.

    * = As I’ve got type 2 diabetes, I’me eligible even though I’m not old enough.

  61. lumipuna says

    Today was the first sunny day for a while, and quite warm too. The solar angle has grown high enough that my glasshouse balcony gets a good amount of sunlight, and it was warm enough to sit around.

    My pearl hyacinths have apparently survived the winter, despite some premature growth in the autumn.

  62. Ice Swimmer says

    Ok, I got the first vaccination appointment about a week from now. The online system wasn’t overloaded, it was just that the Firefox security settings prevented the page from working, I was able to use the service with Chromium. I’ll be getting the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine (the Pfizer vaccine is reserved for people over 70 her in Finland).

  63. Ice Swimmer says

    And yes, it’s sunny and 8 ℃. We’ve had colder midsummer day temperatures once in a while (midsummer day can be hot, warm or quite cold).