Spicing up Swedish food /1 – Pyttipanna a la Madras

May 16, 2017

I quite like traditional Swedish food (which is pretty bland but not quite as tasteless as some people imagine). That includes such dishes as isterband, kåldolmar, stekt lever med lök, Janssons frestele, köttbullar. köttgryta, ärtsoppa, pannbiff, pyttipanna, gravad lax, fattiga riddare and gubbröra. 

However, to suit my palate, I tend to tweak most traditional recipes when I am in control of the kitchen. Quite simple modifications can elevate traditional Swedish, everyday dishes (husmanskost) from the merely mundane to the seriously delicious.

Here is number 1.

Pyttipanna a la Madras

The recipe is based on a half-kg bag of frozen pyttipanna (feeds two). A wok (or large frying pan) is most suitable for preparation.

(Of the various frozen brands available, I find the finely diced  – finhackad – versions to be the most suitable for absorbing additional flavours).

Ingredients : half-kg bag of frozen pyttipanna; o.5 tsp cummin seeds; 1 -2 tsp chillie powder (or 4 – 8 large, crushed, dried red chillies); 2 cloves garlic (crushed); half can of crushed tomatoes; 1tsp garam masala;  0.5 tsp black peppercorns, chopped parsley, 2 rashers of bacon, crushed potato chips.

Heat 2 tblsp of cooking oil (olive oil. does not get get hot enough). When hot enough (2 mins) add the peppercorns and cummin till the seeds spit and pop, add and stir fry the red chillies not more than a minute), add the crushed tomatoes. Stir 2 minutes. Add the frozen pytt (which can be pre-cooked in the microwave to save time). Stir fry till done (6 -8 minutes from frozen or 3 minutes with pre-cooked pytt). Sprinkle with crushed potato chips and garam masala.

Top with a fried egg and two crispy bacon rashers for each serving with sliced beetroot or preferably, cucumber, on the side. Garnish with the parsley. Salt to taste.

Options: Frozen prawns can be added together with the frozen pytt. Half a ttsp of mustard seeds can be added and fried with the cummin for extra flavour and texture.


Human evolution wish list

May 9, 2017

Evolution is reactive and has no direction. Evolution only gives the good-enough. If it can be said to have a goal it is the growth in numbers of the surviving population. “Quality of life” is irrelevant to evolution. But if it favoured excellence it could have been much more focused on the “improvement” of humans rather than just the increase of population.

My top ten wish-list.

  1. Inheritable memory
  2. Eyes with light sources
  3. Third eye for uv
  4. Telescopic limbs
  5. Hard-wired translation in the brain
  6. “Intelligence” based fertility
  7. Scent producing organ
  8. Direct absorption of light and heat energy by skin
  9. Organs for production and detection of radio waves
  10. X-ray sight


The speed of light may have been faster

May 4, 2017

I have speculated before that the rate at which time dissipates may not be constant (The Magical Speed of an Inconstant time).

Now come suggestions that the speed of light may have been faster at the time of the Big Bang. That is perfectly consistent with the speed of time being slower at the time of the Big Bang.

In 2015, scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) confirmed evidence of gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time, formed by the merger of two supermassive black holes, were exactly what Einstein had described with his theory of general relativity. But physicists studying the LIGO data found evidence of “echoes” that seem to contradict the predictions made by general relativity.

“Theoretical physicists Jahed Abedi, Hannah Dykaar, and Niayesh Afshordi, published a new paper explaining that the group believes they have detected the first evidence of gravitational effects not explained by general relativity in the data,” reported Inverse in the wake of the LIGO announcement. In this way, Einstein’s vindication could also prove his theory’s undoing. And this isn’t the only evidence that could disrupt the theory of relativity.

Physicists studying the early origins of the universe hypothesize that light has not always traveled at the same speed. This directly challenges special relativity.

“João Magueijo from Imperial College London and Niayesh Afshordi of the Perimeter Institute in Canada proposed a new experiment proving Einstein wrong and demonstrating that the speed of light actually isn’t a constant,” Inverse reported in November 2016. “The pair thinks light may have moved faster in the past, around the time of Big Bang, and that it’s actually slowed down since.”

They suspect that the lumpy density of the early universe caused light to behave differently. As the universe expanded and smoothed out, these lumpy areas disappeared. But there still may be some areas at the edge of the universe where the lumpiness persists, and in these areas, faster-than-light travel could be possible.

That’s why Einstein’s theory of relativity, which provides the foundation of most of modern physics, may soon be proven wrong as advanced technologies enable us to peer farther into the expanding universe than we ever have before: Once we finally peer into a black hole, we might find that Einstein was wrong about general relativity.

My speculations about time had to resort to magic:

And so I distinguish between perceived time and eal time. eal time, of course is magical. It is only by definition that we take the passage of time to be constant. Of course this is just perceived time. And we perceive time only as a consequence of change. But eal time does not have to elapse at a constant rate.

The Big Bang does not, apparently, mathematically permit of a time older than 13.8 billion years. Magical eal time, of course, goes back to infinitely long ago. All can be resolved merely by accepting that ℜeal time elapsed at zero rate at the Big Bang and then gradually built up to the rate of elapse we are subject to now. ……

At the Big Bang, even change had to get started. All change, all motion, all vibrations, all oscillations and all radiation had to start from zero. The atoms and the elements had to come into being. Cesium had to have come much later. These cycles of these oscillations of even the very first atoms may be regular now. But they would all have had to start somewhere (somewhen) and start from zero. The speed of oscillation had to build up from nothing (implying an infinite period) to that applying today. Which means that close to the Big Bang as atoms were ratcheting up their oscillations, the period between cycles would have been longer, starting infinitely long and reducing rapidly (in apparent time) to what is observed today. Closer to the Big Bang, eal time, as opposed to apparent time, would have elapsed more slowly and the period between cycles of all radiation would have had to start from infinity. The very speed of time would have been slower.

At the Big Bang, the speed of eal time would have been zero. A perceived picosecond of elapsed time would actually have been after the elapse of many, many trillions of eal time years. The perceived age of the universe of 13.8 billion years of perceived time would have been infinitely long ago in eal time.

Ultimately physics is just magic.


Could Lincoln have avoided civil war?

May 2, 2017

Could the US civil war have been avoided? Perhaps Lincoln was not entirely without blame. Perhaps there was an alternative to war to get rid of slavery.
The US and Haiti were the only two countries which ended slavery by violent means.

This is an extract from Sanderson Beck’s essay written in 2008.

……. President Buchanan took the weak position that he had no authority to decide any of these questions, and he declined to make any preparations to fight over them. In fact by his negligence some weapons of the United States were moved to the South by their sympathizers in his Democratic administration.

Lincoln took the strong position, which some would call tyrannical, that states have no right to secede from the Union. He believed it was his obligation as President to enforce the laws that would keep the states in the Union even against their will as expressed by democratic conventions and state legislatures. His policy is ironic and even hypocritical because this position conflicts with Lincoln’s own doctrine of the right of revolution that he expressed in Congress on January 12, 1848 during the Mexican War when he said,

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power,
have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government
and form a new one that suits them better.
This is a most valuable—a most sacred right— a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own revolution.
It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws, but to break up both and make new ones.

In his inaugural address President Lincoln warned against a civil war while promising that he would not invade the South. ……..

…….. Two days after he announced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus throughout the nation. Careful research by scholars, such as Mark E. Neely, Jr., indicates that during the Civil War the Federal Government imprisoned more than 14,000 civilians for opposing the Government or its war in some way. Lincoln authorized military officers to shut down newspapers if they were disrupting recruiting or the war effort. The Provost Marshal General’s Bureau was organized in 1863, and by the end of the war two years later they had arrested and returned to the Union Army 76,526 deserters. During the draft 161,286 citizens failed to report to the Union Army, but how many of them were arrested is unknown.

Lincoln also had imperial ambitions for the United States, and he used Government subsidies to finance the transcontinental railroad to the west coast. In 1862 a crop failure caused starvation among the Santee Sioux because the Federal Government refused to pay them the $1,410,000 owed them from the sale of 24 million acres in 1851. When the Sioux revolted, General John Pope tried to exterminate them. Hundreds of Indians were held as prisoners of war and were given military trials that sentenced 303 to death. President Lincoln commuted most of these sentences, but thirty-nine were put to death in the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. After Lincoln’s death under mostly Republican administrations the experienced military would be used to attack any Indians who were in the way of the railroads and the western expansion of the United States. Lincoln was ambitious on behalf of the United States and did not want to see the empire divided. He developed the power of the imperial presidency as commander-in-chief by arrogating to himself extra-constitutional “war powers. ………
…… In the 19th century most nations in the world abolished slavery by peaceful means. The British freed all the slaves in their empire in six years, completing the process in 1840. Most Latin American nations emancipated all their slaves between 1813 and 1854, and the gradual liberation of slaves in Brazil was completed in 1888. The only other violent emancipation of slaves was the slave uprising in Haiti in 1794.”


Microplastic misconduct: Swedish paper about fish larvae eating microplastics was fabricated

April 28, 2017

A paper claiming evidence about fish larvae eating micro-plastics to their detriment was fabricated. To be published, any paper about the impact of humans on the environment must always be negative. Exaggerated and even fabricated data are rarely questioned. Studies which are positive about human impact are – by definition of “political correctness” – never publishable. There is clearly “politically incorrect” and “politically correct” science.

This is another case of made up work being passed off as “politically correct”science.

Swedish Radio reports today that

A study about fish larvae eating micro-plastics contains such serious flaws that it should be retracted from Science, where it was published says Sweden’s Central Ethics Review Board’s expert panel for misconduct in research.

The panel believes that two researchers at Uppsala University are guilty of misconduct. It is a remarkable study from last year, which deals with the fact that perch young seem to prefer to eat micro-plastics to regular fish food.

After criticism by external researchers, an investigation was made by the Central Ethics Review Board, which today delivered an opinion. The researchers have been found guilty of misconduct in several cases.

“The most serious is the lack of original data,” says Jörgen Svidén, Department Head at the Central Ethics Review Board.

The study was published in the journal Science last year. The Central Ethics Review Board writes in its opinion that it is remarkable that the article was ever accepted. The opinion has been sent to Uppsala University, which must now make a decision on the matter. 

The researcher’s claimed that a laptop containing the data had been stolen. Really? And this was not backed up? Uppsala University had rejected claims of misconduct by its staff in the wake of serious allegations in 2015. How gullible can a University be?

ScienceMag wrote then:

When Fredrik Jutfelt and Josefin Sundin read a paper on a hot environmental issue in the 3 June issue of Science, the two researchers immediately felt that something was very wrong. Both knew Oona Lönnstedt,  the research fellow at Sweden’s Uppsala University (UU) who had conducted the study, and both had been at the Ar research station on the island of Gotland around the time that Lönnstedt says she carried out the experiments, which showed that tiny particles called microplastics can harm fish larvae. Jutfelt, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and Sundin, a UU postdoc, believed there was no way that Lönnstedt had been able to carry out the elaborate study.

Less than 3 weeks later, the duo wrote UU that they had “a strong suspicion of research misconduct” and asked for an investigation. Their letter, initially reported by Retraction Watch in August, was cosigned by five scientists from Canada, Switzerland, and Australia, who hadn’t been at the research station but also had severe misgivings about the paper and who helped Sundin and Jutfelt build their case. 

This week, Science is publishing an “Editorial expression of concern” about the paper, because Lönnstedt and her supervisor at UU, Peter Eklöv, have been unable to produce all of the raw data behind their results. Lönnstedt says the data were stored on a laptop computer that was stolen from her husband’s car 10 days after the paper was published, and that no backups exist. ……

…… The paper, which received a lot of press attention, focused on plastic fragments of less than half a millimeter in size that result from the mechanical breakdown of bags and other products. There’s increasing evidence that these microplastics collect in rivers, lakes, and oceans around the world, but so far, little is known about their effects on aquatic organisms and ecosystems. What Lönnstedt and Eklöv reported was alarming: They had exposed larvae of European perch maintained in aquaria at the research station to microplastics and found that they had decreased growth and altered feeding and behavior. Microplastics made the larvae less responsive to chemical warning signals and more likely to be eaten by pike in a series of predation experiments, the pair further reported. In an accompanying Perspective, Chelsea Rochman of the University of Toronto in Canada wrote that the study “marks an important step toward understanding of microplastics” and was relevant to policymakers. ……

….. In the report of its “preliminary investigation,” the UU panel sided with Lönnstedt. She and Eklöv had explained everything “in a satisfactory and credible manner,” wrote the panel, which asked UU to “take diligent steps to restore the reputation of the accused.” But the panel’s report didn’t provide detailed rebuttals of the long list of problems provided by Sundin and Jutfelt, who say that the investigation was superficial. ….. 

Much may now depend on the conclusions of an expert group on misconduct at Sweden’s Central Ethical Board, which is doing its own, independent investigation. Jutfelt says he’s hopeful because it appears that the group is “doing a more thorough job.” Lönnstedt says she’s not worried about the outcome. A spokesperson for the board says it is not clear when it will wrap up the inquiry. 

Microplastic misconduct Foto: Uppsala universitet

The Ethics Review Board has now reported and it is clear that this “politically correct” paper was fabricated. Uppsala University’s so-called investigation is also shown to have been less than serious and merely carried out a whitewash of their own staff.


Fantasy or just bad science — “humans in North America 130,000 years ago”

April 27, 2017

Nothing wrong with fantasy of course. It just makes for bad science. The real problem here is that it is very bad science being encouraged by the journal Nature. The whole paper is based on analysing some crushed Mastodon bones which were found 25 years ago, a doubtful application of a dating technique and then the assertion that it was impossible for the bones to have been crushed by anything other than human activity. They made some experiments to crush bones and then they leap to their fantastic conclusion that the crushing was (was and not might have been) by stone tools (of which there are no traces) made by unknown humans (who also have left no other trace).

This is not just fantasy. It is borderline rubbish.

Controversial study claims humans reached Americas 100,000 years earlier than thought

The “science” is quite sophisticated —–

“Scientific” bone crushing

Even the staid BBC is driven to report:

Prof Michael R Waters, from Texas A&M University in College Station, described the new paper as “provocative”. He told BBC News the study “purports to provide evidence of human occupation of the Americas some 115,000 years before the earliest well established evidence”.

Prof Waters explained: “I have no issues with the geological information – although I would like to know more about the broader geological context – and the likely age of the locality. However, I am sceptical of the evidence presented that humans interacted with the mastodon at the Cerutti Mastodon site.  …… To demonstrate such early occupation of the Americas requires the presence of unequivocal stone artefacts. There are no unequivocal stone tools associated with the bones… this site is likely just an interesting paleontological locality.”

Prof Tom Dillehay, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, told BBC News the claim was not plausible. Another authority on early American archaeology, Prof David Meltzer from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, said: “Nature is mischievous and can break bones and modify stones in a myriad of ways. ……. With evidence as inherently ambiguous as the broken bones and non-descript broken stones described in the paper, it is not enough to demonstrate they could have been broken/modified by humans; one has to demonstrate they could not have been broken by nature. ….. This is an equifinality problem: multiple processes can cause the same product.”


A shortage of children in Japan

April 23, 2017

The challenges of population implosion will be quite different to the challenges of growing populations. Japan is facing most of these challenges earlier than the rest of the world, but what Japan faces in the next 50 years will also be faced in Europe in about 20 years, by China in 70 years and in India in about 100 years.

The challenges of an aging population are receiving much attention as the ratio of working population to supported population declines. But what receives less attention is the upheaval being caused in Japan by the sharp decline in the number of children.

From a peak of just under 30 million children (0-14 year olds) in 1955, the number has been declining. By 2050 there will be only about 10 million children in Japan. Rural schools are already being abandoned for lack of children. That in turn leads to long commutes for the children still living in rural areas. Commutes of 50km, each way, are not so rare.

QuartzMedia: About 5,800 public school buildings closed between 2002 and 2013, according to data from the Japan’s education ministry. By rights, many more schools should close for lack of students. But they remain in existence because no one can think of anything better to do with them. Of those that have closed, a few hundred have been demolished and about 1,500 schools were still on the books in 2014 in need of a new purpose, according to ministry data.

It is not just schools of course. Numbers of teachers, demands for teacher training places, school meals suppliers, uniform manufacturers and even school bus manufacturers are all facing shrinking demand. Demand for higher education places lag school places by about 15 years. Some Universities are reducing their entry requirements to fill the places they have.

Japan is among the first to face these challenges and how they cope is going to be watched with great interest.

That they will cope is not in doubt. But how they cope will provide many of the solutions that the rest of the world is going to need.



All objectivity is subjective

April 20, 2017

From a recent talk I gave:

When a tree falls in the forest, a pressure wave is borne by the air, but there is no sound if there is no ear to detect the vibration and no brain to perceive that vibration as sound. On the airless moon there is no medium to convey a pressure wave. “The Sound of Silence”. Silence is what you hear when a tree falls on the moon.

Our eyes do not see any object directly except by reflection. In a mirror, the eye sees a reflection of a reflection of light from an object where the light comes from someplace else. When you discover a car hurtling towards you, your eye only sees a reflection of light from the car approaching, but the light comes from elsewhere. It is fortunate that the light happens to travel faster than the car coming to mow you down. (I note, in passing, that it would have been a far more intelligent design if our eyes had their own inbuilt light sources – laser beams perhaps – but what we would see would still be reflections.)

Our reality is limited by our senses. We are blind to what our senses cannot detect. We cannot see the ultraviolet light all around and we can not detect infra-sounds surrounding us. There is infinitely more that we can not perceive or even detect. Even my thoughts are limited by my imagination. What I cannot imagine, I cannot think of. Without experience, I cannot understand what hunger means to a starving person. Information from the outside world is first filtered by what our senses can detect. Then, it is interpreted and perceived within the limits of our brains. I cannot convey the pressure wave my ears detect, but I can try to describe the sound I hear. But all that I can communicate is limited by my language. The structure and vocabulary of the languages I know cannot cope with all the nuances of emotion and sounds and sights and smells and tastes of what I perceive I experience. 

Where I hear cacophony my son hears music. What I perceive as the worst stench in the world can be perceived as the delicate fragrance of surstromming by a Norrlänning

There are no facts that are not perceptions and there are no truths that are not interpretations in a brain. To make a judgement is to be biased. Being unbiased is not always right. To discriminate is a consequence of thought. Discrimination is not always wrong. To be different is to be unequal. Inequality is not always undesirable. To reward is a consequence of deserving. Equality is not always wise. The question is whether one is just in ones actions. But what is just depends on where the observer is positioned.

My objectivity is not necessarily yours. I have no objection if others have different opinions to mine, even if theirs are invariably wrong. My point is that objectivity is inevitably, and always, subjective.


California normal

April 17, 2017

So much for the global-warming induced, permanent drought that had afflicted California. Population in California has doubled since 1979 but water resources infrastructure has not changed much. Ground water is being consumed and depleted at an increasing pace. Yet normal weather variations are taken to be man-made global warming.

California remains normal, but Californians …….


An index of precipitation at eight sensors showed that just under 90 inches of rain and snow have fallen this winter in the northern Sierra Nevada. The previous record of 88.5 inches was set in the winter of 1982-1983. The average for the region is 50 inches a year, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The record was surpassed less than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared an end to California’s drought emergency — a largely symbolic pronouncement that left in place some water-conservation rules for the 40 million residents of the nation’s most populous state.

More snow and rain is likely to pad the record before the wet season ends.


Democratic autocracies

April 16, 2017

The trend is clear.

Democratic elected autocrats is political evolution in motion.

We already have Czar Vladimir, Maharaja Modi and King Barack succeeded by King Donald. The squabbling kingdoms of Europe are drifting without any clear vision or direction.

Now comes Sultan Erdogan.

It is the sign of things to come.

image The Economist

Democracies have probably become too wishy-washy, too soft and very close to anarchic mob rule. This development may well be a necessary political evolution.


%d bloggers like this: