Intriguing Science Discovery: Just in Time for the Winter Solstice!

Oh, look, the opening to a plague movie that actually involves The Plague!:

The finding suggests that the germ may have devastated settlements across Europe at the end of the Stone Age in what may have been the first major pandemic of human history. It could also rewrite some of what we know of ancient European history.

The finding came about as the researchers were analyzing publicly available databases of ancient DNA for cases in which infections might have claimed prehistoric victims. They focused on the previously excavated site of Frälsegården in Sweden. Previous analysis of a limestone tomb at the site found that an estimated 78 people were buried there, and they all had died within a 200-year period. The fact that many people died in a relatively short time in one place suggested they might have perished together in an epidemic, lead study author Nicolás Rascovan, a biologist at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, told Live Science. The limestone tomb was dated to the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, the period when farming began.

The researchers discovered the previously unknown strain of plague in the remains of a woman at the Frälsegården site. Carbon dating suggested she died about 4,900 years ago during a period known as the Neolithic Decline, when Neolithic cultures throughout Europe mysteriously dwindled.

Based on her hip bones and other skeletal features, they estimated the woman was about 20 years old when she died. The plague strain found with her had a genetic mutation that can trigger pneumonic plague — the deadliest form of historic and modern plague — suggesting the woman likely died of the disease…
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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Persons of the Year

Per the Washington Post:

Journalists around the world have been targeted and assaulted for their work. Some have paid with their freedom; others have paid with their lives.

Even the president of the United States — a country that has prided itself on having freedom of the press since its founding — has repeatedly attacked the media as “the enemy of the people.” Other world leaders have echoed this aggressive stance against the media, cracking down on reporters who have tried to hold them accountable.

We are living through nothing short of a “war on truth” — but it is in such a time that “professional truth seekers” are more important than ever, Time magazine declared in its latest issue…
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Florida Man or Woman Plans His or Her Escape!

I am not authorized at this time to confirm or deny that this is my cover letter or BettyC’s…

Open thread.



Our New Surreality

It’s kind of weird where we are right now. Pretty much everyone now knows and has internalized that our President and many of those who surround him, including Pence, have either committed multiple felonies or were a party to them. And that’s just the stuff we know about right now. Who knows what else Jared and Trump’s spawn have done that haven’t even been released yet. And we have barely scratched the surface of his rogues gallery of cabinet appointments.

But even knowing that, our nation’s elites are still tip-toeing around the basic fact that our President is a criminal who broke who knows how many laws. Instead of a national conversation about how we are going to prosecute him, it’s more horse-race nonsense- “Will it hurt Democrats to bring impeachment charges? Can a Trump win in 2020 and outlast the statutes of limitations?”

It’s kind of insane. It’s sort of analogous to when we knew all the Catholic priests were molesting those kids, but people were more afraid of uprooting the church than dealing with the monsters. So people talked in veiled terms and looked the other way, and never dealt with the problem or really held anyone accountable.

The Republicans are so corrupt that even with everything we already know, they will not convict in the Senate. We’re basically just going to have to live with a criminal President until the economy craters and the money guys decide to cut their losses. It’s nuts.



Nevertheless She Persisted: The Cuteness, It Burns!!!! Edition

This is absolutely adorable!

Open thread!