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rotting sea cow

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  1. Some news on the Chinese lunar program. First, it seems they have concrete plans to land there before 2030

    Second, news on rockets. They have two rockets in development. For first time they acknowledge their Falcon Heavy look-alike, that's a three core rocket with a LEO capability on 70 tons and 27tons LTO. It's a kerolox based rocket. The name of the rocket is CZ-5DY


    The second and more surprising development is the complete change in the design of the CZ-9 rocket, which was strongly influenced by the SLS and probably faced a number of similar issues.  It was hydrolox rocket with solid fuel boosters. Well, now it's a kerolox rocket with 16 engines and no boosters. Capability is  150 tons to LEO, 53 tons to LTO.


    there is no mention about reusability for any of these rockets, but plainly their design will allow that at some point. SpaceX influence in those designs decisions is evident.




  2. I also believe that Victarion won't make it alive. My take is when the horn is blown (either by himself or by his tralls) Rhaegal will burn him alive.

    But there is a problem. The Iron Fleet is there to spearhead Dany's fleet which will be composed mainly of Volantene ships crewed by freedmen. Other people might also join like Salladhor Saan and Aurane Waters. The question is who will command that fleet and who the remaining ironborn might follow. A possibility is that Theon and Asha escape and make their way to Slaver's Bay but as the events stands it's highly unlikely, but on the other hand I cannot see how their stories will continue in TWOW

    Beyond that, it is hard to imagine the ironborn will be so important in the war against the Others. What I could see is Theon sailing the Sunset Sea, blowing the kraken horn and taking the monsters that his uncle awoke with him. 

    Regarding the ironborn who followed Euron, I think they will conquer a good piece of Westeros but many will die in the sacrifice that Euron is planning that most likely will awake the krakens. It's very possible that the seas will turn wild and impassable until the monsters are herded out of the known world. Few of these ironborn will return to the islands.

    Most likely Asha will govern a population mostly made of women and children.




  3. The main objective of a siege is to break your enemy inside the castle as they run out of food and sickness spread within. The problem with the Twins is that it has a bridge connecting the two castles, with a river in between that cannot be crossed. So, unless you besiege the two of them, a siege is pointless. But even if you are able to cross somewhere and put half of your army at the other side, the other half cannot help them if they run into trouble other than storming the castle. See the Battle of Riverrun.

  4. On 6/16/2021 at 11:46 PM, Padraig said:

    A bad day for vaccines.


    Curevac reports preliminary results of 47% efficiacy. 

    I was reading about it now. Derek Lowe has a good write-up about the issue and he seems inclined to believe that the problem lays on an unmodified RNA bases they use, wherever that mean. 

    But reading the comments, apparently this is patented process.


    Unlike BioNTech and Moderna, Curevac didn’t apply that replacement. Btw. not neccessarily out of considerations for RNA “pureness”, but primarily for not having the respective patent, which is held by K. Karikó and UPenn.

    but Curevac has other patents that might be useful according to another comment


    CureVac has a patented technique in which the vaccine mRNA generates up to five times more immunogenic protein (spike and receptor binding domain) than other unspecified methods. It published this work in 2013. It can therefore use a smaller dose

    I also want to remind that many of the highly effective vaccines use a "prefusion stabilized spike protein" that it's apparently more immunogenic. That also sounds like a patented process.

    So, indeed. Patents might be hurting the development of vaccines and it's quite an irony that an European product might have been affected when the EU are the most staunch opposing party to the waiving of patents related to vaccines and medicines.

  5. 17 hours ago, JoannaL said:

    The numbers are really depressing for a country which vaccinated that much. do we have reliable efficacy data for sinovac yet (actually we should its also on the market half a year or so?, but I dont remember seeing them). Perhaps its not working against the gamma variant? I think I read something about problems in indonesia with sinovac too? But there the delta variant should be the problem not gamma?

    I think Sinovac is having around 50% efficacy against the gamma variant according the studies done in Brazil. It was around 70% for the wild type of last year. On the other hand there weren't many choices. Only Pfizer has shipped in significant numbers but it wouldn't have made a difference. And there are breakthrough cases with Pfizer too. So variants are really changing the game.

    A thing I forgot to mention is that many PCRs are coming back negative despite people having all symptoms. It's unclear if these are faulty tests, sloppy work by the labs (which are under heavy pressure nevertheless) or variants are slipping under the radar. Or maybe even other viruses.

    17 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

    I thought I had read that Sinovac’s efficacy was actually not all that great in terms of suppressing infection (though reduced hospitalization significantly(, even against alpha (of course can’t remember where I read that), so this is not out of line with what I would have expected.  

    Yes, it was known but the problem is the government acted criminally confident. Once the health care workers were vaccinated (with Pfizer) and the older population (70+ years olds) with Sinovac, they thought they could reopen and  disaster unfolded. Every time that an age group is fully vaccinated the next level begins to fill the hospitals. Now there are a lot of 30+ years olds in ICUs too and they are just starting to vaccinate that group. It's quite maddening.

    It is difficult to compare the breakthrough cases between Pfizer and Sinovac. The former has been given to people like health care workers, teachers, fireworkers and people with some chronic diseases, cancer therapy, transplants and disabilities. Overall younger people, more health conscious but at higher risk of infection or to develop severe illness. Sinovac has been given to the general population.




    In the meantime, two people have died in Calgary, Alberta, from the Delta variant, and one was double vaccinated, though I don't see what vaccine they had. The other person was unvaccinated. The Calgary Foothills hospital has had a Delta outbreak. There's also a Delta outbreak in a city near Toronto, called Waterloo, which is very worrisome. A lot of people commute to Toronto from the Kitchener-Waterloo area for work.


    I think it was Pfizer. There is also an outbreak at the US embassy in Kabul. Delta really seems to be the one that may need a booster shot.


    On 6/17/2021 at 8:11 AM, lessthanluke said:

    I find the lack of empathy towards people who don't want the vaccine a tad disappointing on the board.

    I know 4 people who've been hospitalised by the vaccine, 5 women who's periods have completely stopped since taking the vaccine, countless others who've just become completely lethargic since having jt. People are allowed to have worries without being being called idiots, its not an unreasonable fear being scared of a brand new vaccine.

    Look. A colleague of mine was a week flat at home due to the vaccine and is doing now a bunch of medical examinations. I'd heard other stories too. I'd really wish that we wouldn't need to make this decision and understand that people are reluctant to make it. I truly blame the governments who have failed miserably in the handling of this crisis. Unfortunately, we don't have truly options unless you want and can effectively isolate at home for a large period of time. If you won't or can't chances are you are going to meet the virus sooner or later.  It's highly probable that you won't get severe disease, but will you throw that dice?

  6. I had a depressing talk last night with a friend in Chile. He's in charge of a COVID testing unit and I've been passing him useful info (some provided by members in this forum) since last year.

    Well, he was infected last week as well as some people in his team. Despite having the two shots of Pfizer and wearing protective equipment during their duties. They suspect they got infected in their own quarters by another team member. To be fair, he was like two days sick with headaches, nausea and light respiratory problems. He still feels fatigued a week after.

    What he tells me is frightening. The situation is chaotic. Chile has been vaccinating a lot (almost 20 millions doses given already) mostly with Sinovac (about 90%) and Pfizer (10%) and smaller batches of other vaccines. In both cases they are seeing lots of breakthrough cases. He doesn't have stats obviously, so it's unclear how frequent is for each of the vaccines. There is supposed to be a report at some point. It seems however that vaccines are preventing hospitalizations as ICUs are overwhelmingly used by unvaccinated. They have lots of reinfections too. They blame the Brazilian gamma variant but now they learned there is that Andean lambda variant. Even the very contagious British alpha variant seems to be unable to gain hold.

    He says the virus is changing. Before they could "smell" the virus and reconstruct transmission chains, now it seems to be everywhere and popping out of nowhere. Lots of asymptomatic people and lots of 40 years olds as sick as the 60 year olds of yesteryear. They are also seeing kids very sick.

    He is depressed and angry. Angry at the people who wear masks everywhere but then they meet at home to watch football. Angry at the government for being criminally inept. Angry at the World for letting this scourge loose over the world. He is exhausted too. They are at the breaking point.

    So, why I'm telling you this? We are far from done with it. Get you vaccine ASAP (I should look myself what it's going on with my appointments) but do not believe that you are bulletproof against the new circulating variants. Be careful and watchful and avoid unnecessary risks. Expect a chaotic Autumn but maybe even a chaotic summer.

  7. On 1/2/2021 at 8:22 PM, Spockydog said:

    You say that, but... Has anyone heard of The Great Reset? I hadn't until yesterday, when I saw some headlines referring to it as some kind of right wing conspiracy theory. 

    Turns out it's a real thing, an initiative from the World Economic Forum, fronted by Prince Charles. The aim is to reshape the global economy for a post Covid world. Responsible capitalism. 

    On the face of it, it looks quite good. Save the planet, address poverty and inquality.

    But some of the gammon factions are losing their shit over it, because, well, socialism or something. 


    I'm sorry. I will never believe in the good intentions of people at the top.

  8. Well, there is the theory that Mance has used glamour to pose as Ramsay and has him caged. In that capacity he was able to send the letter to Jon (which I personally believe was tampered at the Wall).

    In Theon chapters there is mention how a capable swordman can hold against a hundred in the serpentine stairs of Winterfell. There is that.

    In the end, it might be Theon who will let the dogs loose on Ramsay when Stannis takes Winterfell.


  9. 8 hours ago, Clueless Northman said:

    Wait a minute: Pfizer is more effective against Delta than against Alpha, specially with just 1 dose?

    These numbers are prone to sampling issues and not always directly comparable. Data is preliminary. There might be differences in the populations affected. Delta is also spreading now, in summer time. Alpha was in the middle of the winter. These things do influence outcomes.

    It seems that South Asia will not escape the current wave. Several countries are reporting outbreak, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and others. We will see how things develop.



    22 hours ago, Darzin said:

    Luckily I got vaccinated with the rest of the teachers at my school and wasn't treated differently. Anecdotaly with other teachers in China it seems to be the same, but China is not recognizing non-Chinese vaccines so it makes sense they want everyone to have the Chinese one. 


    12 minutes ago, Lightning Lord said:

    China is the "one" in my "one did not."

    I didn't realize that China was not recognizing non-Chinese vaccines. Any idea if that policy is permanent? Hard to imagine international travel to China recovering while they deny all other vaccinations.

    Tit-for-tat. Western countries are also reluctant to accept non western vaccines.



  11. 4 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

    Holy smokes, 12 fully vaccinated people have died? 23 unvaccinated, that is not surprising, but fully vaccinated people long after the second dose? Do we know what vaccine they received?

    This is the nightmare…

    Yes. It looks pretty bad and if the trend is confirmed we'll go straight to lockdowns after the summer. Or maybe even earlier. I wonder if the Delta variant has structural changes that make it easier to transmit in warmer, humid weather. The Indian spike was somewhat unexpected.

    There are (yet unconfirmed) reports that the symptoms are also changing, with people loosing hearing or other weird stuff as well as that children are more affected.

    Yes. I understand that people, businesses and governments want to return to normality, but until we do not know how vaccines work against variants in real life, we need to be cautious. However, the implied message that "vaccines are not working" can be devastating. 


  12. 29 minutes ago, JoannaL said:

    Thats an US problem and it is mind blowing! Here everyone gets time off to get the vaccine and everyone gets paid sick leave (up to 6 weeks for whatever reason). the US really must reform their system. That takes time. But at least the US (if not the employer)  could pay in this case the sick leave after vaccination, if that would help with vaccine uptake.

    Don't think that it's an uniquely US problem. There are many similar issues in Europe. I know a guy, the only fully asymptomatic COVID case I've met, whose boss wanted him to go to work because "he was fine". There are lots of people working irregularly without contract and health insurance. Undocumented migrants. There are marginalized communities that are difficult to approach needing targeted strategies. Independent workers struggling to catch up with lost income due to the lockdowns. Etc.


  13. 10 hours ago, Kal Corp said:

    Pay everyone for a day off work. I don't know why this is so absurdly hard to understand. 

    Or if that doesn't work for you, pay people like $200 to get vaccinated. 

    Yes, yes and yes!

    I can't fucking believe that it's not standard policy. It's again the typical insensitivity by our authorities. "Wait, people cannot take a day off if they feel sick? mind blowing!"

    Last week I have to replace a colleague in a online conference of a project that I'm only tangentially involved. The guy was three days on sick leave after the vaccine. We have that privilege. Many others don't.


  14. 11 hours ago, A wilding said:

    Basically, the unstated implicit policy now is to let the new Delta variant spread throughout the country unchecked, and to hope that the vaccinations are sufficient to prevent the hospitals being overwhelmed by cases, and that the death toll is not too bad. Personally, I think the we are screwed, and Mrs W and I are going to continue to stay more or less in lockdown mode despite having had both our jabs.


    I see.

    10 hours ago, Zorral said:

    Again with the herd immunity!  Again herd Immunity raises its head like a sea lion.  As the virus continues to variate, so there will never be herd immunity, which of course is a unicorn in the first place.  Feh.

    Well. It's supposed to be herd immunity with vaccines.

    We need to admit we don't have a good solutions. Only those that are less bad. Lockdowns and other restrictions have been devastating and have hit the vulnerable the most.

    Vaccines seems to be working, preventing mass infections, hospitalization and deaths. But plainly, a low level of infections (and subsequent hospitalizations and deaths) will continue to occur despite vaccines. What is the acceptable level? Is next winter going to be a normal flu-like one or another covid catastrophe? I think it's hard to say.

    My opinion is people, yes even vaccinated people, need to exercise caution. Know they are protected but the real level of protection against rapidly spreading variants might be unknown.

    There is urgent need of additional interventions, imho.

    One. We need early care. Whatever medicine or treatment can be applied at home that reduces progression to the hospital. For obvious reasons it needs to be cheap, available and safe. I just saw the bad news that Aspirin failed to do a difference for hospitalized patients in the Recovery trial. But there is always talk of other things like high dose of Vit C & D.

    Two. It need to be a push to get people in better health shape. We have all read about that a lot of the morbidity and mortality is due to comorbidities. Everybody with diabetes should get a treatment. Everybody with high pressure should get a treatment. Etc. Same with obesity and other conditions. 

    Three. We need to improve ventilation and air quality in enclosed spaces. This will important for offices and schools and can reduce the burden of infections dramatically. 




  15. There is a good article in The Atlantic about some of the things discussed in the last pages. Read carefully. It's strongly focused in the US but applies elsewhere I think.


    Some quotes


    The U.S. also largely ignored other measures that could have protected entire communities, such as better ventilation, high-filtration masks for essential workers, free accommodation for people who needed to isolate themselves, and sick-pay policies. As the country focused single-mindedly on a vaccine endgame, and Operation Warp Speed sped ahead, collective protections were left in the dust. And as vaccines were developed, the primary measure of their success was whether they prevented symptomatic disease in individuals.



    Unvaccinated people are not randomly distributed. They tend to cluster together, socially and geographically, enabling the emergence of localized COVID-19 outbreaks. Partly, these clusters exist because vaccine skepticism grows within cultural and political divides, and spreads through social networks. But they also exist because decades of systemic racism have pushed communities of color into poor neighborhoods and low-paying jobs, making it harder for them to access health care in general, and now vaccines in particular.



    In the early 19th century, European researchers such as Louis-René Villermé and Rudolf Virchow correctly recognized that disease epidemics were tied to societal conditions like poverty, poor sanitation, squalid housing, and dangerous jobs. They understood that these factors explain why some people become sick and others don’t. But this perspective slowly receded as the 19th century gave way to the 20th.

    During those decades, researchers confirmed that microscopic germs cause infectious diseases, that occupational exposures to certain chemicals can cause cancers, that vitamin deficiencies can lead to nutritional disorders like scurvy, and that genetic differences can lead to physical variations among people. “Here … was a world in which disease was caused by germs, carcinogens, vitamin deficiencies, and genes,” wrote the epidemiologist Anthony J. McMichael in his classic 1999 paper, “Prisoners of the Proximate.” Public health itself became more individualistic. Epidemiologists began to see health largely in terms of personal traits and exposures. They became focused on finding “risk factors” that make individuals more vulnerable to disease, as if the causes of sickness play out purely across the boundaries of a person’s skin.

    “The fault is not in doing such studies, but in only doing such studies,” McMichael wrote. Liver cirrhosis, for example, is caused by alcohol, but a person’s drinking behavior is influenced by their culture, occupation, and exposure to advertising or peer pressure. The distribution of individual risk factors—the spread of germs, the availability of nutritious food, one’s exposure to carcinogens—is always profoundly shaped by cultural and historical forces, and by inequities of race and class. “Yet modern epidemiology has largely ignored these issues of wider context,” McMichael wrote.


  16. On 6/8/2021 at 3:29 PM, SpaceChampion said:

    Relativity Space is rocket company using 3D printing technology to print rocket bodies and engines.  It's Terran 1 rocket (only 1.2 ton payload capacity, and fully expendable) will fly for the first time later this year, but today they've announced a medium lift rocket that is fully reusable, the Terran R.

    Finally. I wonder if they got inspired by this (amateurish) proposal.

    The SFR, the Small Falcon Rocket





  17. Looks like a mini BFR! Interesting, but not the first one after Starship. The japanese are also working in something similar.

    But with a far less ambitious timetable.

    It might well be that China is also working in something similar.


    Europe has also a concept for the Ariane Ultimate, a SSTO decades away.



  18. Maybe Jon Arryn knew Moore better and thought it was a fine choice. Better him than Lyn Corbray, an excellent warrior of ill reputation. 

    Blount sounds like a guy who Robert might have liked during their youth. So maybe?

    and Trant? Maybe there wasn't any other stormlander available.

    But, yeah, Moore, Trant and Blount are oddities in terms of the political calculations made by Jon Arryn at the start.  So, it might well be Robert's choices.

    There is of course no way to know who was in the KG before Arys, but the idea he died during the Greyjoy's rebellions sounds plausible.

  19. Yeah.

    It is weird that no Riverlander or Northman has a position at Robert's court given how important they were in winning the throne for him. What did it win? Did Robert at least lower the taxes for them?

    Hoster Tully after being one of the most ambitious lords pre-rebellion somehow became completely uninterested in the realm politics. Even it seems he completely gave up the education of his heir, instead of sending him to court to squire for Robert or Stannis and learn a thing or two.

    Given that there were politically intelligent movements early on, like Robert's and Stannis marriages (albeit ultimately disastrous) one cannot imagine that Jon Arryn was so lazy to leave loose ends.

    Besides the names suggested above, maybe some Florents were also at court at different times.

  20. On 6/5/2021 at 3:27 AM, SpaceChampion said:

    The U.S. Air Force (collaborating with Space Force) will be soliciting bids for space-delivery of 30 to 100 tons of cargo to anywhere in the world in 90-minutes.  Obviously SpaceX's Starship is the only one capable for doing that assuming it'll work as expected when it is flying, but USAF insist the potential for other aerospace companies is there to provide several options....  

    Putting an open bid is normal and probably mandatory by law even if there is only one feasible candidate. The USAF probably want to learn of other ideas nevertheless.

    But what is actually the idea? It is hard to imagine any kind of cargo that requires that urgency given the network of well supplied bases around the World.

    A possibility is they want to use it for special forces insertion. The idea has been around for decades and there were even projects of using ICBMs to insert small teams. The problem was always how to retrieve them after the mission. Using the Starship alone will have the same problem, not enough fuel to flight back. Putting it on top of the Super Heavy might send the Starship in ballistic course and save enough fuel to get the Starship back to nearest base.

    I would imagine there is a range of military project ideas of how to use the Starship. I wonder if we'll see something like Prompt Strike using the Starship. This might be destabilizing.

    EDIT: I was reading some material associated at this project and evidently the current allocated funding ($48 millions) won't allow the full development of a concept although of course it helps SpaceX both economically and politically. It seems that the USAF wants to have possible scenarios and then decide what they want to do.


  21. On 6/1/2021 at 1:26 AM, Corvinus85 said:

    After seeing the latest leaked footage with the radar screen from the Navy ship and thinking of the impending Pentagon report, I can't but help feeling that the US government and the Pentagon have backed themselves in a lose-lose situation.

    1. If they present evidence that suggests these UFOs are advanced drones developed by another nation, which effectively have been trolling the US Navy, then that would mean that US Intelligence have dropped a major ball.

    2. If there is enough evidence to suggest that these couldn't possibly be man-made objects developed with current technology, then it opens the door to investigate everything else they tried to cover up between Roswell and present day.

    I suppose an exit could be that they come out and say these are the US's, they are experimental, and that's all everyone needs to know. The general public may accept that, but there will still be voices calling for more revelations.

    My thoughts on the issue and why I started this thread. It's getting weird either way.

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