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June 29, 2020


I knew "flying snakes" actually glided. But the undulation for stability stuff was new and really cool. Thanks for that.

I said to my wife last night, "Did you know pangolins are anteaters?"

Wife: "No. They eat ants?"

Me: "Yeah. You know how they eat them?"

Wife: "Is this a joke?"

That's my marriage in a nutshell.

I'm not sure I believe the story about the trapped ants. Videos online suggest that pangolins eat ants by licking them up with their very long, sticky tongues. As why would they not?

And the ants keeping falling for it.

Is it a pangolin-based conspiracy theory? ;^)

Since this is an open thread:

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, analyzed the spread of news about the 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal in New Jersey—an actual conspiracy—and the spread of misinformation about the 2016 'Pizzagate' myth, the completely fabricated conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant was the center of a child sex-trafficking ring that involved prominent Democratic Party officials, including Hillary Clinton.


In either case—whether for a conspiracy theory or an actual news story—the narrative framework is established by the relationships among all of the elements of the storyline. And, it turns out, conspiracy theories tend to form around certain elements that act as the adhesive holding the facts and characters together.


"One of the characteristics of a conspiracy theory narrative framework is that it is easily 'disconnected,'" said Timothy Tangherlini, one of the paper's lead authors, a professor in the UCLA Scandinavian section whose scholarship focuses on folklore, legend and popular culture. "If you take out one of the characters or story elements of a conspiracy theory, the connections between the other elements of the story fall apart."

Which elements stick?

In contrast, he said, the stories around actual conspiracies—because they're true—tend to stand up even if any given element of the story is removed from the framework. Consider Bridgegate, for example, in which New Jersey officials closed several lanes of the George Washington Bridge for politically motivated reasons. Even if any number of threads were removed from the news coverage of the scandal, the story would have held together: All of the characters involved had multiple points of connection by way of their roles in New Jersey politics.


"When we looked at the layers and structure of the narrative about Pizzagate, we found that if you take out Wikileaks as one of the elements in the story, the rest of the connections don't hold up," Tangherlini said. "In this conspiracy, the Wikileaks email dump and how theorists creatively interpreted the content of what was in the emails are the only glue holding the conspiracy together."


Quick build versus slow burn

Another difference that emerged between real and false narratives concerned the time they take to build. Narrative structures around conspiracy theories tend to build and become stable quickly, while narrative frameworks around actual conspiracies can take years to emerge, Tangherlini said. For example, the narrative framework of Pizzagate stabilized within a month after the Wikileaks dump, and it stayed relatively consistent over the next three years.

"The fact that additional information related to an actual conspiracy emerged over a prolonged period of time (here five and half years) might be one of the telltale signs of distinguishing a conspiracy from a conspiracy theory," the authors wrote in the study.

Giant pangolin burrows are large enough to crawl down (if you're a sufficiently lunatic researcher and completely claustrophobia free...)

Pangolins and bats living together in underground burrows in Lopé National Park, Gabon

(see photos..)

Murder hornets, flying snakes, and pangolins that appear to be way, way smarter than any ant-eater actually needs to be.

I'm staying in the house, locking the doors, and I'm never coming out again.

Mitt Romney's niece has announced that the RNC Convention will block Anthony Fauci from attending their measles soiree this summer, and that all attendees will sit one seat apart, but that live pangolins will be placed in the empty seats betwixt and between and registered as delegates.

In a sop thrown to FOX's Steve Doocy, who belatedly in 2017 politely criticized Hitler's Nazi Party for the quality of the straw strewn for passengers on trains headed for Bergen-Belsen, the pangolins will be asked to wear masks, though the human ants seated next to them may do as they please.

Pangolins and bats living together...

Is that from Ghostbusters?

there's some creature around our house that digs holes in our mulch: three identical holes, always arranged at 10-, 12-, and 2-o'clock.

an OCD-plagued squirrel, maybe?

an OCD-plagued squirrel, maybe?

A friendly groundhog lives near us, and behaves similarly. Ours lives underneath a shed, but we have no idea how large the underground home actually is.

Squirrels and groundhogs (and gophers) are fine. When it gets bad is when what is digging the holes is a skunk. Especially when they start digging under the house.

(though they are still used for traditional Chinese medicine, unfortunately)

Some of the problematic animals are not to be found in classical TCM but have been introduced since the cultural devolution by scam artists try to make a buck.

I can only take so much doomscrolling, so today I was finally giving the latest Leprous album some serious attention after ignoring it for a year.

Plug this one into our ongoing rhythm discussions - Baard Kolstad drum playthrough of The Sky Is Red - playing whatever style of music it is that Leprous is doing right now:

The album has some same-y moments, but no one else sounds like them and when they are on, they are powerful.

Giant pangolin burrows are large enough to crawl down (if you're a sufficiently lunatic researcher and completely claustrophobia free...)

Words fail. But on the other hand, I am glad such lunatics exist.

That guy has really beautiful technique - very relaxed, excellent finger control of the sticks, efficient movement around the kit. He's playing with a lot of power but he's getting it without unnecessary tension or physical stress. A very good drummer.

The styles making the biggest advances in drumming technique these days seem to be metal and gospel.

Some of the problematic animals are not to be found in classical TCM but have been introduced since the cultural devolution by scam artists try to make a buck.

I'm really interested in Chinese medicine, minus the animals. Not interested enough to have set aside time to put in the work (yet). But how do you know this, and have you studied it?

I don't object to Western medicine, by the way - not an antivaxxer or person who rejects science. But Chinese and Indian medicine have a lot of valid treatments. Sadly, people are trying to patent them before they are widely tested by scientists.

sapient, FWIW but as someone who has often sat waiting for friends in Chinese medical practices, where the ingredients are usually in ranks of jars up the walls, I can tell you that if you insist on "minus the animals" you will be excluding a lot of the building blocks.

Personally, I only tried a course once, after a consultation with a famed pracitioner, for a few weeks while staying with a Chinese friend who was undergoing a course of treatment for some condition of her own.

The decoction was made for me each night. I did not inspect the ingredients, but the brew was so bitter and vile that I gave it up and suffered the condition (can't even remember what it was, probably eczema) rather than continue forcing the stuff down. You have been warned.

But how do you know this, and have you studied it?

I know a little bit in passing, perhaps a bit antidotal, from listening to people who have lived in China. The Cultural Revolution destroyed a lot of Chinese culture including TCM. TCM, mingled with western medicine, made a comeback after the Cultural Revolution.

The stuff that has been grafted onto TCM since hasn't occurred in the TCM hospitals and clinics I suspect, but in wet market stalls where they sell cures for anything and everything and call it TCM.

A couple of links covering some aspects of TCM after the Cultural Revolution.

"Every major Chinese city has a TCM hospital and university. While folk medicine shops have the cluttered appearance of an alchemists’ den, institutionalised TCM presents itself as clean, organised and scientific, with staff, even administrators, bustling around in white lab coats. The majority of TCM drugs are sold in foil packets and shiny capsules."
Do some harm: Traditional Chinese medicine is an odd, dangerous mix of sense and nonsense. Can it survive in modern China?

"Chinese medicine practitioners also suffered greatly under this movement. One prominent leader in Chinese medicine, Ren Yingqiu, was banished to the Qing Hai Province (an area likened to Siberia) and was allowed to bring only one book. This was Li Shizen's pharmacopeia (Bencao Gangmu). The class of 1963 was the last class to complete a full TCM curriculum. No students were admitted into Chinese medicine schools during the years between 1965 and 1970.

After the Cultural Revolution was officially ended in 1976 with the death of Mao, academics, artists, professionals, and TCM and Western physicians slowly re-emerged into society."
Modern China 1912AD ~ Present

You have been warned.

I will take that very seriously! Honestly, thanks so much for that. I know very little about it, but on my journeys eastward, have found some of those jars quite intriguing!

A more favorable report: I went to Vietnam a few years ago, and in some of the rural restaurants saw some kind of alcoholic concoction infused with bee comb. I asked whether it was just tasty or medicinal, and was told that it was both, but got the impression that the medicinal part was recreationally medicinal.

I guess I just like partaking (which I did - honey infused alcohol is delicious, but I knew that already).

The styles making the biggest advances in drumming technique these days seem to be metal and gospel.

Well, that was one weird gospel song! ;^)

RIP Carl Reiner. 98.

Shut up, Mel!

RIP Carl Reiner. 98.

Amen, John.

About Chinese medicine, it has branched off, so that Japanese kanpo
and Korean
are related, but have developed quite differently.

Japan's system is primarily Western, with the use of kanpo running underneath it, while Korean is more like a 50/50 split

The university I was at for my sabbatical had a famous Korean medicine department, and the students did a 6 year degree. I wanted to try it, but my lack of Korean, plus relatively good health during the year didn't give me a chance.

It's interesting, they generate a lot of research, though it is parallel to Western medicine rather than comparing it.

Where did you hear that ridiculous theory of how pangolins eat ants? There are plenty of videos out there that show how they actually eat.

Yes, but were the video narratives created by the pangolin PACs or the ant PACs?

America is not interested in the actuality of anything.

It is the .... presentation ... and how fast we can bite the check and get out of town with the down payment.

But, still, how do pangolins really eat?

The scales flapping up and down trapping the ants had me.

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