Weekly Round up

A weekly look at stories from near and far

Antibody nasal spray For people who don’t like injections, here’s an exciting new idea covered by Nature. Antibodies to Sars-Cov-2 could be administered by a nasal spray. For those with more time, there’s a nice link to the main article.

A nasal spritz of a designer antibody offers strong protection against variants of SARS-CoV-2 — at least in mice. Since the pandemic’s early days, scientists have been developing antibody treatments for COVID-19. But those available have not been very popular with doctors, partly because they are delivered through intravenous infusions rather than directly to the respiratory tract, so it takes high doses for them to be effective. Now, researchers have engineered an antibody that can be delivered directly into the nose. They envision the spray being used by people who have been exposed to the virus, and as an extra line of defence for those who might not be fully protected by vaccines.Nature | 4 min read

Older people and climate change So much of the history of the last ten years can be explained by the fact that older people hold most of the financial, political and social power, especially in countries like the USA and England. Understandably, they tend to be deeply conservative and suspicious of change. But that is all the morer reason to try to engage them, as Aled Jones and Bradley Hiller argue in this thoughtful piece from The Conversation

Inconceivable microbes Apparently there are organisms deep in the earth which seem to feed off of radioactivity. This has profound inplications for the search for life on other planets and star systems Nature again:

Scientists have long puzzled over how microbes living deep underground feed themselves without sunlight or heat. Now, two studies suggest that these organisms could feed off the radioactive decay of hydrogen and other elements. The findings open up new possibilities for life on other worlds — and could shed some light on our planet’s own history.Quanta | 11 min read
References: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta paperNature paper

Big Data finds new talent Residents of West London will doubtless cheer the return of Brentford FC to the big time. How have they done it? According to David Hellier of Bloomberg (via the superb Apple News feed) they have stolen a march on their competitors by clever use of AI and data to pick undiscovered new players. Sports fans, read on!

We thank Mr Peter Seymoiur of Hertfordshire for this story

Soccer’s Richest Game Won by Brentford and Big Data – Bloomberg

Well, if we see a common thread this week, it is the unexpected and different in all these stories. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend, and remember-always expect the unexpected.

#sars-cov-2 #covid-19 #big data #brentfordfc #seti #microbes #radioactivity

Friday Night Cocktails-keeping ’em simple

Have you ever noticed how some of the best songs were always the simplest? Think early Beatles or Rolling Stones. Shocking Blue‘s Venus. Or maitre d’ of the simple line, Chuck Berry himself, whose sparse songs are far more memorable than the bloated over-orchestrated offerings of so many later acts.

As with art, so with cocktails. Our aim this week is to provide you with a few simple classics. Short, sharp and sophisticated, they can be run up with a couple of bottles and a twist of fruit, maybe. None of that wasted drinking time mucking around with syrups, strainers and twenty different ingredients this week, chums. And so, without further ado:

Dry Martini 5 ice cubes, 1/2 measure dry vermouth, 3 of gin. Stir, don’t shake and pour into a cocktail glass. Decorate: one green olive and a spiral of lemon peel. How James Bond is that?

Rusty Nail Put 3 ice cubes in a nice chunky tumbler glass and pour in 1 measure of good scotch. Add 1/2 measure of Drambuie and decorate with a single spiral of lemon peel. Don’t get hammered!

Gimlet To 5 ice cubes in a medium glass, add 1 measure of lime juice cordial. Very slowly add the gin, and decorate with a slice of lime. Personal note: the author first discovered the word “gimlet” while studying the novel Peter Pan, aged nine. The teacher challenged us to explain what it meant, and when we could not , kept us in during break. Harsh!

Harvey Wallbanger Put six ice cubes in a shaker. Add one measure of fine vodka and 2 teaspoons of Galliano. Add 125 ml of real fresh orange juice , then shake, rattle and roll. Pour with ice into a long-ish glass, which you should also have kept chilled beforehand. Stylish!

Well, that lot is almost as easy as pouring a beer, unless you drink it from the can, like our old correspondent Ms R.S. of Southend-on-Sea. We don’t think that anyone can give you a fairer start to the weekend than that. Happy drinking, people!

Adapted from that excellent volume The Hamlyn Ultimate Cocktail Book. Please buy!

#cocktails #galliano #jamesbond #teachers #friday

Mr Bond’s car is the one on the right

Gussie Fink-Nottle, a man for all seasons

“I tell you, I despise that man. Why? Because he is a pessimist!” So Gussie Fink-Nottle singled out Bertie Wooster to the crowd at the prize giving in Market Snodsbury Grammar School. Close textual analysis of What Ho, Jeeves! will recall its exposition of the eternal battle of the optimists, represented by the likes of Gussy and Tuppy Glossop, and pessimists such as Bertie, always skulking at the back of the hall and snarking at the discomfort of others.

Well, ladies and gentlemen we at LSS are firmly in the Fink-Nottle camp. The optimists. The glass half full types who think a problem is there to be solved. If a hole has a long fairway, then the exercise will do you good sort of attitude. And today we are presenting 16 reasons, no less why we think we are right. About green energy any way.

By watching the linked Facebook video, which also has some jolly up beat fink-nottlish sort of music, you will discover:

solar panels which track the sun like giant daisies

turbines which sit in rivers and streams and do no harm to wildlife

solar powered tubes to cook delicious kebabs on camping trips

batteries powered by salt water

And lots more ingenious, optimistic and positive ideas to wring a little more energy from the planet, while cocking a snook at horrible old pessimists like Bertie Wooster who said it couldn’t be done. So just as Gussie frequently called for cheers from his audience, let’s cheer on the optimistic engineers who will make these and many other good things possible.

Credits: the video comes from the Business Insider website and was recommended to us by Mrs Christine Hartley of Sussex.

Watch | Facebook

Tech – Insider (businessinsider.com)

PG Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster Arrow Books 1992

#solarenergy #renewables #technology #globalwarming #climatechange

Haters take heart-the future offers glorious opportunites for racism

News that President Biden is to visit Tulsa, Oklahoma * to commemorate the victims of the notorious 1921 race massacre will doubtless cuse alarm amd despondency in many quarters. Because it suggests that some people are starting to learn from the mistakes of the past and trying not to repeat them. Those who relish “the narcissism of small differences” * to stir up hatred and conflict will see it as a notch up against them. But don’t despair haters- your time is really coming, and it will be in Space.

How so? Well, it’s all a question of gravity. If humanity starts to build colonies on nearby planets, as seems likely, history shows that these will very quickly become self-sustaining, producing children of their own. If the gravity of the Earth is taken as 1.0, that of Mars will be 0.379. Future Martians will quickly adapt to this new gravity, rapidly becoming so weak relative to earth gravity that they will never be able to return to their ancestral planet. Their children will become very tall indeed, perhaps three or more meters, and will lack all desire and ability to mate with the sturdy dwarves of planet Earth. The Lunar situation will become even more exaggerated. Its gravity comes in at a miniscule 0.165. You can work the rest out for yourselves, including for other nearby bodies, and zero gravity space stations.

In fact we are probably anticipating the rise of new species, not races. Biologists know that different races can still produce fertile offspring. What separates species is that they can no longer breed with each other.

The opportunities for hatred, suspcion and mutual rivalry among several different species, all equipped with nuclear weapons, are dazzling indeed. Of course the old differences that are so relished in the twenty first century, for example black and white, arab and jew, tutsi and hutu, rad fems and trans activists….(that’s enough conflicts-ed) will seem quaint and old fashioned. People will wonder what all the fuss was about, when there are Martians and Jovians to fight and loathe. In the meantime, we link to a marvellous piece by the late great Christopher Hitchens, eloquent as ever in its disdain for the petty and the foolish everywhere.

Tulsa race massacre – Wikipedia

Biden warns of echoes of Tulsa massacre in the United States today (yahoo.com)

Christopher Hitchens: The narcissism of small differences | National Post

#presidentbiden #tulsa #race #spacecolonies #ethnonationalists #xenophobia #mars #moon

More thoughts on the Lion Tamer

A couple of days ago we posted a few thoughts on the current dilemma facing western democracies and their strategic dilemmas. We even likened their position to that of a lion tamer in a cage. It turns out that other, greater minds have been thinking about the same problem quite independently of us. Will Hutton is a profoundly learned writer and commentator, and we have been following his columns and books for years. Here in the Observer he gives us his take on the terrible threats to democracy from the rise of the surveillance state. *(link below)

We at LSS don’t want to go all pompous and portentous on you, good readers. We hate to spoil a sunny day . But we will obseverve this: the countries we call “the west” are the only heirs to the traditions of the Renaissance and Enlightenment left. What is that tradition? Free intellectual enquiry and honest trade. These are what have given us such advantages as science to provide vaccines and predict the sorts of climate changes that felled earlier civilisations. Life in the alternatives will become stagnant-and a lot more ordered than you will like.

From Minsk to Hong Kong, people power just isn’t working any more | Will Hutton | The Guardian

#willhutton #observer #renaissance #enlightenment #democracy #science #freedom

The lion tamer and McDonalds

“The problem was that the Chinese just didn’t like McDonalds.” So, reputedly, ran the weary sigh of an old State Department hand reviewing the various events and ups and downs from 1990 until now. If you remember back to that heady time, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of communism,the end of history, the word McDonalds has a very special place. The arrival of that restaurant in each liberated town (Moscow, for example) was meant to herald the the arrival of the Free West. Just as people flocked to McDonalds, so they would flock to western values of freedom, democracy, open markets and the whole Enlightenment package. Except that they haven’t.

The whole view was naive and simplistic. It overlooked the fact that other civilisations might have very different cultures, histories and even reasons not to adopt the western package. Perhaps those reasons were good, perhaps not. Maybe we should deal with them another day. But anyone with a sense of history or logic must respect them, and look at the world we are in today: 2021, not 1991, in other words.

We think that the West now is rather like a lion tamer in a cage with three very large wild lions. The tamer is armed with a chair and a whip, the traditional accoutrements of the profession. The three lions are Russia, China and Militant Islam. The tamer does not wish to destroy them, for they are his livelihood. Yet he must find a way to bring peace to the cage. The problem is numbers. To approach any one lion too closely, in order to tame it, would leave his back exposed to the other two, who will turn to attack. Yet to leave the three lions where they are requires endless vigilance, which must eventually exhaust. And meanwhile he can’t spend time developing the act, or any other.

One man knew a possible way out of the dilemma: Richard Milhouse Nixon. That’s right, the much maligned 37th President of the United States of America, whom older readers will recall ran into certain -ah, difficulties– over matters concerning a certain Senator McCarthy, Cambodia and the Watergate Building in Washington. But for all his faults, Nixon had two key insights. Firstly, his enemies might have a world view similar to his own, except that they were the tamers and the US and its allies were the lions. And that above all, they needed a deal, for both sides had something that the other badly wanted-peace. Fifty years on from detente, we now badly need something very similar. Is their an American or EU leader ready to grasp the nettle?

#world politics #democracy #freedom #USA #russia #china #islam #EU

we hope to bring you our regular round up next week

Three liqueurs and a hangover cure

Fans of nineteen eighties TV will recall the old Cointreau advert in which a naughty Frenchman with a twinkling eye recalls an old liaison with a Respectable Englishwoman at a very formal dinner party. Perhaps a tad cliched (but aren’t all good ads?), it nevertheless got us thinking about Cointreau and other fine liqueurs. So for all of you former lovers with a naughty past, and the rest of us sad types who just watched the football on the telly in the bar, here’s a few mixes for the long weekend starring famous liquers. Thanks as ever to Hamlyn’s The Ultimate Cocktail Book and that ever faithful standby,The Bartender’s Guide by Peter Bohrman (Greenwich Books) Go buy a copy of each, now!

Le Mans: Fans of motor racing will know to take a tall glass, add three large ice cubes, one measure of Cointreau and 1/2 measure of vodka. Add a slice of lemon and top up with soda water. You’ll find the orangey taste of the Cointreau opens the way to vistas further south.

The Loch Lomond Monster: You need a shaker to which you add five cubes of ice. Take two measures of good industrial whisky (Johnny Walker for example) and add one measure of Drambuie. Two drops of Angostura bitters complete the mix. Shake ’em, don’t break ’em. Pour, sans ice, to a cocktail glass and decorate with a slice of orange. With its mix of herbs and heathers, Drambuie is a bit like a north-of -the border Pimms.

October Revolution: The book tells us to add five ice cubes to your shaker. Then; one measure of vodka, 1 of Tia Maria 1 measure of creme de cacao and 1 measure of double cream. Shake, then pour the lot into a tall glass, adding extra ice if necessary. We don’t know what it’s got to do with the Bolsheviks, but clearly Lenin and Trotsky must have loved it!

Hangover Cure– Accoding to our sometime correspondent Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire, an old friend of his swore by creme de menthe poured into fresh milk. Wow!

#tiamaria #cointreau #drambuie #creme de menthe #cocktails

Harriet Taylor Mill-behind a great woman stands a great man

Feminists, philosophers, and liberals everywhere will toast the memory of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Arguably the most eminent English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century, his pioneering ideas were decades, sometimes centuries, ahead of their time.

Most celebrated among his many accomplishments was his groundbreaking On the Subjection of Women (1861). Cleverly avoiding many of the intellectual morasses into which later feminists fell, it argues simply and clearly that the emancipation of women would benefit all, on simple utilitarian grounds. In other words, we all get richer.

Yet Mill claimed that the credit for this work should largely go to his wife, Harriet Taylor, saying he was

“chiefly the amanuensis of my wife”

in the research and production of his work. He proclaimed her as the moving spirit and collaborator in all his works including those on liberty, politics, democracy,racial equality, slavery and many other causes whose advances we take far too much for granted today.

Sadly, she predeceased him. Both had tuberculosis, which carried him off too eventually, and we can only speculate what this remarkable pair might have achieved had antibiotics been available.

JS Mill is a name which should be shouted by progressives everywhere; but with him at all times was a truly great woman, as he was the first to acknowledge. Teamwork always wins best in the end.

#antibiotics #tuberculosis #jsmill #liberty #democracy #feminism #women

John Stuart Mill – Wikipedia

Airships-making green flying possible

In his fantasy novel The War Lord of the Air novelist Michael Moorcock imagined a 1973 where the airship reigned supreme. There had never been a First World War, the great European empires had never fallen, and aeroplanes were deemed impossible. The trade routes of the sky were filled with huge silver dirigibles crossing the skies and linking continents.

In the real world, it never happened. From 1919 onwards the sky was increasingly filled with fast, heavier than air machines which could whisk you from Frankfurt to New York in hours. Or on your holiday from Luton to Benidorm. But there is one problem; they already contribute quite a slice of greenhouse gases, and as flying grows, this will start piling up fast. We could cut this before it happens-but how?

One company that thinks it has an answer is Hybrid Air Vehicles of Bedford in the UK. Their hybrid powered Airlander 10 is designed to take over the short haul routes (think Barcelona- Balearics or San Francisco- Seattle) , to be updated by all-electric models by 2025. It’ll be slower than a plane, but the emissions will be a whopping 90% lower. And we think the views will be a lot better! So,we’ve got two links for you today. One to Rupert Neate of the Guardian and one to HAV themselves. There’s some great photos and videos for you to enjoy.

We at LSS would hate air travel to fail: nothing has done more to break down barriers between peoples. Yet we do need to make every effort, large and small, to cut greenhouse emissions. We think HAV represent a really brave attempt to do that. Airships have never quite gone away: Londoners will recall visits from the Goodyear blimp in the 1970s, and the old Airship Industies pioneer from the 1990s. Now perhaps they have a reason to come back, big time.

HAV (hybridairvehicles.com)

Airships for city hops could cut flying’s CO2 emissions by 90% | Air transport | The Guardian

#aviation#co2emissions #airships #airtravel #aeroplane #holiday #business #bedfordshire

Michael Moorcock The Warlord of the Air NEL 1971

Daniel Kahneman-still packing a punch at 87

Why do so many organisations make such bad decisions? Have you ever been on the sharp end of dreadful blunders? Do you ever wonder “why can’t people do things better?” If so Daniel Kahneman is the man for you. He’s spent a lifetime studying decision making and group behaviour, and must know a bit about it, because they gave him a Nobel Prize for it back in 2002. A younger generation will recall his bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow, to which we also link below. Now he’s at it again in a new work Noise:A Flaw in Human Judgement*: not bad for an 87 year old who started life as a refugee from the Nazis in occupied France.

We won’t spoil the excellent interview article by Tim Adams of The Guardian which you should click to * at once. But there was one killer quote which we couldn’t resist:

It takes a long time to educate intuition.

When we consider how many people live their lives by intuition, and that much of their information comes from rubbish noise and emotional outpouring on the internet, we tremble for the future. Perhaps the only hope lies in the wisdom of people like Kahneman.

We thank Mr Peter Seymour for recommending today’ s blog. He further advises you to listen to a programme which Kahneman made recently: we hope our link to BBC sounds works for you.

Daniel Kahneman: ‘Clearly AI is going to win. How people are going to adjust is a fascinating problem’ | Science and nature books | The Guardian

Daniel Kahneman: Thinking Fast and Slow Penguin 2012

Daniel Kahneman Olivier Sibony and Cass R Sunstein Noise: a Flaw in Human Judgement Harper Collins 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000w4nb

#psychology #management #decisions #AI