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Richard Walker

Hope

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Tonight Winter knocked at my door

But Spring was peeping over her shoulder.

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Richard Walker

One Liner

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Death. Is it just around the coroner?

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Richard Walker

Cheese comparison

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Is Ricotta hotter.

Or is Feta better?

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Richard Walker

Astronomical Mondegreen

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 6 Nov 2020, 23:03

I heard this scientist going on about "Black coals in space", I thought hey look in my cellar.

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Richard Walker

What I’m Reading

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How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently, by Tim Harford. 


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Richard Walker

De-existance

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Suppose I were to de-exist.

Would I be missed?

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Richard Walker

What J. Caesar might have said, but didn’t

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 I came, I saw, I concurred.

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Richard Walker

Playground Joke

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Q. What did the mummy firefly say to the baby firefly?

A. Glow baby, glow!

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Richard Walker

Double-Barrelled

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I was charmed to read a couple from Bridport with surnames White and Christmas have married to become the White-Christmasses.

Going further afield, there is Romanian surname Biban and a French one Thierry. I’ll leave you to work that one out.

Amazingly there is a French/German surname Dubel, and a surname Burled. So there could be a double-barrelled surname Dubel-Burled.


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Richard Walker

The Five Friends - A Poem

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 4 Nov 2020, 02:54

There were five friends once

That met in a certain place

But a cruel wind came up one day

That sent them their separate ways.

And now they hope to meet again

But know not how nor when.

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Richard Walker

At the restaurant

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A, B, C, D and E went out for a meal. The restaurant was very crowded, but managed to vitamin.

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Richard Walker

Knock-knock!

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Knock-knock!

    Wanda

Wanda who?

    Wanda who's kissing her now.

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Richard Walker

Is Smoking Good for You?

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The modern consensus is no, but early in the pandemic there appeared to be evidence that smoking protected against Covid-19. This seemed surprising, but when dealing with an unknown quantity conventional wisdom might be overturned. Perhaps the smoke kills virus particles, it’s plausible.

Here’s a study that compared test-confirmed Covid rates among hospital patients who smoked and those who did not.

https://www.qeios.com/read/WPP19W.3

The article abstract concluded

“Conclusions and relevance: Our cross sectional study in both COVID-19 out- and inpatients strongly suggests that daily smokers have a very much lower probability of developing symptomatic or severe SARS-CoV-2 infection as compared to the general population.”

Should I resume smoking after all these years?

No. As discussed here

https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1740-9713.01413

the correlation is likely to be an example of Berkson’s paradox, not a real effect.

Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to need hospital treatment for reasons that are unconnected to Covid. So if you test everyone on a respiratory ward, a smaller proportion of the smokers will have Covid relative to the non-smokers.

But the idea that smoking could protect against infectious disease, and confer other other health benefits is old.

“During the London plague of 1665 children were instructed to smoke in their schoolrooms; and in 1882, in a Bolton outbreak of smallpox, tobacco was actually issued to all the residents of a workhouse.”

See 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1079499/


Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 3 Nov 2020, 21:47)
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Richard Walker

Survey

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 2 Nov 2020, 21:50
Accordion to research, 9 out of 10 people don't notice when you replace words with random musical instruments.
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Richard Walker

Unusual Fungi

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Here are some photographs my brother Simon took of unusual fungi.

The first is the candle snuff.


The second is the birds nest fungus.



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Richard Walker

A Song of Autumn

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Autumn memories

Blowing my emotions about

As if they were dead leaves.

This is my attempted haikuonification of a poem by Paul Verlaine. I've admired and remembered the original for many years. Here it is

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon cœur
D'une langueur
Monotone.
Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure;
Et je m'en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.


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Richard Walker

Spooky Primes

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 1 Nov 2020, 13:40

Think of any number whatsoever and there is a prime number starting with the digits of that number. For example if you pick 42, 421 is prime. In fact there are infinitely many primes beginning with 42, such as 421 or 42139 ...

Another example: the first primes starting with the current year number and the next are 20201 and 20219.

In every case, for any sequence of non-zero digits, infinitely many prime numbers start with that sequence. For instance infinitely many primes begin with 3142592. I guess I could find the first, in fact I will try in the morning.

And in fact I found three!

314159207 314159227 314159257


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Richard Walker

Chicken Doubt - A Poem

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 31 Oct 2020, 22:32

Roads are not easy things to cross

What with the anxious dithering at the kerbside

And then the quick fluttery traffic-defying dash

To a place we didn’t know we wanted to be.

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Richard Walker

Automotive Confusion

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Richard Walker

Knock-knock joke

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 30 Oct 2020, 22:42

Knock-knock!

    Who's there?

Cherry.

    Cherry who?

Bye-bye!

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Richard Walker

A four line Haiku

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Death, today I felt

You sniffing round

Hoping to add me

To your scorepad.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Monday, 2 Nov 2020, 19:25)
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Richard Walker

Stamps and Throat Singing

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 29 Oct 2020, 23:13

Today I thought again of Richard Feynman, physicist and teacher, and his quest to visit the Republic of Tuva, because of his pre-teen fascination with the unusually beautiful stamps of that state. See

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg13318095-100-review-richard-feynmans-lost-journey/

Tuva is also famous for its throat singing. The singer produces a continuous low drone and then modulates the shape of the mouth and lips to generate a melody over the top, using the harmonics of the base note. Try steadily humming hummmmm and then moving you lips in the shape of vowel e a i o u, to get an idea.

That is about as far as I can go. But accomplished traditional throat singers can generate a second overtone, so sing three notes at once. Some Western classically trained singers have also learned to produce similar overtones and some pieces have been written for this style but it's unusual.

To hear some Tuvan throat singing visit

https://www.pbs.org/video/look-tuvan-throat-singing-ensemble-spysbr/

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Saturday, 31 Oct 2020, 20:24)
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Richard Walker

Plague

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Plague is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia Pestis. It is rare nowadays but was responsible for the Great Plague of London in 1665, for example. Looking further back, most people have assumed it presented as the Black Death in the Middle Ages, but with some scholars unconvinced until relatively recently. More daringly, some have wondered if the pandemic that took place in the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian might be the same disease.

Recent work with datable human remains makes it almost curtain that Y. Pestis is indeed what caused all three of these plagues with a small ‘p’. Blood flows into a living tooth, and a pathogen in the blood may be in the teeth of a person when they die. Tooth enamel is very resistant and fragments of pathogen DNA can survive in the tooth for thousands of years.

Researchers have collected DNA samples by drilling into ancient teeth and used computers to reassemble the fragments and look for a sequence that identifies Y. Pestis. Results show that almost certainly the Great Plague of London, the Black Death, and the Justinian plague were the same thing.

And here’s a big surprise; it turns out the bacterium has been about for some 5000 years at least. But it only changed into the deadly form about 4000 years ago, when it swapped in a gene from some other bacterium.

See Ancient Plagues Shaped the World, Scientific American, November 2020.

 

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Richard Walker

Health Anxiety

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I’m really worried I might be suffering from hypochondria.

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Richard Walker

Mondegreen

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Read tonight: “l suppose it’s power for the course.”

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