Categories
Misc

Why are German numbers backwards?

My German is relatively basic, but this is true for Dutch as well. 42 is pronounced twee-en-veertig (“two and forty”).

Spoken language was in existence before written language. Many numerals existing today were created long before reading was practised, so if there is any direction in a language at all, German does not “read” “backwards”, it speaks “backwards”.

But then, very likely numerals are not named with regard to direction at all, but for the logic behind counting. In Breton, the number eighteen has the name tri-ouch “three (times) six” – I cannot discern any direction in this numeral. In Finnish, eighteen is called kah-deksan-toista “two (from) ten (in the) second (ten)”. The logic seems to be to view the decades and then say how far into which decade we are. Again, there is no reading direction implied in the number name. Similar to this Finnish logic, Old Norse used a counting system not based on tens, but on dozens and multiples of the divisors of twelve (e.g. 60 = “Schock” in German). “364 days” in Old Norse is fiora dagar ens fiortha hundraths “four days into the fourth hundred (= 120)”. (Please note that “hundred” once meant 120.) I don’t claim to understand the logic behind “einundzwanzig”, but the question might be to understand the thinking behind numerals and find out about historic counting systems, not about reading direction.

In Old English, a language descended from Germanic dialects, numerals where “backwards”, too: fēowertīene “four-teen”, ān and twentiġ “one and twenty” etc., and you can still find remnants of an old vigesimal (base 20) counting system, e.g. “score” for 20.

There are many more languages that speak or read (some of) their numbers “backwards”, among them Greek, Latin (both directions possible), Celtic languages etc., and of course languages that actually read right to left like Arabic, where our written numbers come from. The question could be rephrased as: Why does English read their numbers in the wrong direction? Because obviously the “backwards” way is older and may even be more widespread (there are thousands of languages and we don’t know how they count; why should English be the norm from which to judge numerals?).

[…]

user1914

Source via Stackexchange.

Categories
Misc

Omicron

[…]

Even if you did succeed, what then? How long are you going to keep your borders closed? A restriction to a few countries might help the first week, but within a month it won’t even much matter, because there’s too much spread elsewhere. It’s not like a variant worse than Delta is going to go away any time soon, so you’re stuck in a permanent state that in most places both can’t be created and can’t be sustained if you did create it.

For those places that showed they can sustain it, would you even want to, and for how long? When would it end? What’s your plan?

The other issue with travel restrictions is they continue long, long past the time when they still make any sense. Once containment has generally been lost, the restrictions don’t do anything. At a minimum, they do nothing unless you’re in a much much better place than the region you’re cutting off, whereas there were many cases of longstanding mutual restrictions where the same variant was dominant in both places, which is pure folly.

[…]

It’s worth noting that if a new variant is about to displace the old one, then lockdowns designed to stop the spread of the old variant are much less worthwhile. Once there’s a displacement event, the previous infection level no longer matters at all. If anything, previous infections could be an advantage, if the new variant is more dangerous, and/or it means the spread can be slowed down due to natural immunity. The flip side is if somehow natural immunity was going to stop working entirely against the new variant, then every case prevented in the meantime is a pure extra case, which based on history seems unlikely but is possible.

[…]

Zvi Mowshowitz

500% of shit coming our way

I think this final graph is a bit confused here, unless ‘the original strain’ here means Delta. Delta had about a 120% advantage over ‘the original strain’ or 70% over Alpha. I’m going to take this to mean 500% as compared to that 120%, so 600% of original versus 220% of original, or about a 170% additional increase. Which is… better, but still quite a lot.

[…]

This is a super scary graph, assuming it is accurate.

thezvi

This is gonna be a “fun” Christmas period.

Categories
Apple

Airtags, DHL and North Korea

Fun project, and crappy customer service from DHL.

Categories
Misc

The World’s Deadliest Thing

Around 1895, whilst investigating the case of a group of musicians who had died after eating cooked ham, a Belgian scientist called Emile van Ermengem identified the bacteria at the heart of Kerber’s sausage poisonings, a disease that had been coined Botulism, after bolutus, the Latin for sausage. Later work showed that these bacteria, which Van Ermengem named Clostridium Botulinum, would only grow under certain conditions. The inside of a piece of badly stored, processed meat was ideal, but when conditions changed, the bacteria would shut down, forming highly resistant spores and remaining in that form until conditions were right again for growth.

A few years later, scientists discovered something even more remarkable. The spores that produce these deadly bacteria were almost everywhere. They were found in the soil, on the surface of vegetables, in animal faeces and within riverbeds. They could survive being boiled, being frozen, and cope with highly acidic environments. Thankfully, these spores were also harmless, passing through humans unchanged if ingested. But under the correct conditions, they would turn back into bacteria, producing a deadly neurotoxin. If this toxin was ingested, even in the tiniest quantities imaginable, it would produce a slow paralysis moving down the body, eventually shutting down vital processes like breathing. For anyone unlucky enough to consume it, the survival rate was around 60%.

[…]

It is perhaps strange that such a rare poisoning event shapes our modern food system so profoundly, but this is perhaps because the toxin produced is one of, if not the, deadliest on earth. It has been estimated that in its pure crystalline form, six grams of botulism toxin, about one teaspoon full, would be enough to kill 200 million people. The lethal dose when consumed orally is around 30 billionths of a gram, which if you want a relatable comparison, is about the same as if you cut a single poppy seed into ten thousand equal pieces and ate one of them. It is an amount so tiny, it really doesn’t make sense.

[…]

The rapid, long-lasting and highly noticeable cosmetic effects made Botox a near instant success. In small doses, the same nerve damage that causes fatal paralysis in poisoning cases, helps to remove forehead creases and crow’s feet, with the only side effects being an inability to express emotion using your face, and an occasional case of drooping eyelids. A distinctive wrinkle-free and slightly startled look became fashionable among the Hollywood A-List, and eventually across the world. It is of course deeply ironic that many celebrities who publicly advocated a clean living, chemical-free lifestyle, were also early adopters of a treatment that involves injecting the deadliest substance on earth into your face (looking at you, Paltrow). If any of them were surprised at this seeming paradox, they certainly didn’t show it.

[…]

[I]t is likely that the pure crystalline form of Botulinum toxin is now also the most valuable, with an estimated street value of $100 trillion per kilogram. The entire global face paralysing industry is supported by an annual production of just a few milligrams.

Source.

Never linked Botulinum and Botox to one another. Wow.

Categories
Misc

Octopuses, crabs and lobsters to be recognised as sentient beings

Octopuses, crabs and lobsters will receive greater welfare protection in UK law following an LSE report which demonstrates that there is strong scientific evidence that these animals have the capacity to experience pain, distress or harm.

The UK government has today confirmed that the scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill will be extended to all decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs.

by LSE

More like this, please.

I believe the EU (or some members of) already had similar laws. I am not sure if they go as far, though.

We have to rethink the food industry. And these laws help go into the right direction.