Locklin on science

Secrets of a successful shut in

Posted in Locklin notebook by Scott Locklin on November 15, 2020

My bona fides: I’ve effectively been doing the “work from home” thing since 2007. There’s been times here and there where I visit customer sites, or have been traveling a lot, but it is more or less the same thing for 13 years. I’ve helped build a couple of businesses, kept in decent shape, traveled, read many great books, written a few hundred thousand words for the general public, have maintained an active and satisfying social life and many great friendships. I’m no role model, but most people could do worse, and I did it all almost entirely with a 10 second commute from bed to desk. It may be new to you, but you can have a good life living like this. 

First thing: when you get up in the morning, get the fuck up. Then get some exercise. Touch your toes, swing a kettlebell, go for a run, do yoga. Doesn’t really matter what you do; just do something. Get your blood flowing to your brain before you get to work. Some people do their full exercise program in the morning; I train too hard to do that and be productive. So, for me, the mornings are just a little warm up (karate warmup or Farmer Burns, maybe Indian clubs routines), joint mobility (Pavel Tsatsouline and Max Shank routines) and stretching. 


Next thing: get dressed. Take a shower, put your pants on; you’re going to work, so you should behave like you’re going to work as in an ordinary work in the office day. I used to actually put on a tie and sports coat (this was before zoom meetings); it’s the right mentality to overdress when you’re working at home. Sure some of you can get away with doing work in your slippers and sweatpants; you shouldn’t try to do this if you’re new at it. Overdress even if you feel dumb. Put the slippers and sweatpants on when you’re done work.

When you sit down to do work; do your work in a special place in your house. If you’re new to this; take your laptop to a place which you put aside for your work. If you have a family, ideally this special place is somewhere they won’t disturb you much. Key is to pattern match on “this is work” -make all your habits agree with this work mindset. You should not goof off there, or if you do, make your physiology such that it’s different during work time and goof off time (aka standing desk for work, sit down for goof off time). You’re trying to fix your brain to the habit of working there.

Lighting: you need bright lights to be fully awake and at work. Nobody has mood lighting in their office. Factories are brightly lit; not always to view the workpiece; it keeps people alert. Open the windows, buy a corn cob light (google it; corn cob lights are amazing); do whatever needs to be done to have a brightly lit workspace. Not optional; if you try to work in a cave, you’ll be moosh headed and worthless and living a half baked life.

Not goofing off: you’re probably goofing off right now reading this. Don’t do it. Use a pihole if you have to and block off your goof off websites this way. Your brain does need little breaks; get up and walk around. If you have to take breaks using computer or checking social media or whatever; try to use a different device than your work computer. 

Pomadoro: the pomadoro technique is a great tool taught to me by Kevin Lawler. I don’t think it is universally applicable, but it is generally applicable. Anything you’re grinding out; pomadoro it. The little breaks keep you fresh, and the schedule keeps you working instead of getting stuck down the  wiki hole. The other thing that makes it super helpful; the regular interrupts keep you from going down a non-productive direction on your work tasks. 

Not over communicating: slack is sort of useful when your company is 20 people; it becomes unweildy beyond that. If you’re like me, your high impact stuff is small projects that don’t require much collaboration. I check slack and email once or twice a day unless I’m managing people, and have all alerts for these things turned off. For those of you who have alerts on your phone (fools!): those need to be turned off as well. Use the telephone for talking on; it saves lots of time compared to thumb typing on your stupid ipotato. It actually feels nicer too; you get no real human interaction from thumb typing, but voice is …. talking to someone at least.

Keeping a schedule: you need to keep regular hours, and not be on call at all hours of the day and night. If you’re working at home, you should be in front of a computer, working.  If you’re messaging people on slack over dinner, unless you’re C-level (and even then), you’re an imbecile and you have not only failed at your job; you have failed at life. 

One of the most difficult professions is that of creative writer. You’re completely alone with your thoughts; there’s nothing else, no process or outside world to interact with (there are successful team writers, but they’re rare). As such, they really “work at home.” One of my favorite books on this is Pressfield’s War of Art. Everyone who does creative work should buy this book and live his advice. For those who don’t, two takeaways; point your lucky work doodad at yourself to give you power, and say a prayer to whatever gods you believe in (or don’t believe in -Pressfield prays to ancient Greek muses). You’re prepping your brain for work.

Frens: no man is an island, during the imbecile lock downs which will occur in the West in coming months, you may become isolated. There are dozens of free video chat softwares out there if you don’t have a work zoom license you can use; stuff like Kosmi allows you to play games and watch videos together. If you have pals nearby and you/they don’t live with elderly family, you should go visit them; don’t be a covidiot. There’s lots of other stuff you need to get right as well; have friends, hobbies, religion, make your bed, clean your room. You should take care of all that as well. But I figured I’d mention talking to your pals, since sometimes people forget.

Data is not the new oil: a call for a Butlerian Jihad against technocrat data ding dongs

Posted in econo-blasphemy, machine learning, Progress by Scott Locklin on November 5, 2020

I tire of the dialog on “big data” and “AI.” AI is an actual subject, but as used in marketing and press releases and in the babbling by ideologues and think tank dipshits, the term is a sort of grandiose malapropism meaning “statistics and machine learning.” As far as I can tell “big data” just means the data at one point lived in something other than a spreadsheet.

 “BigDataAI” ideology is a continuation of the program of the technocratic managerial “elite.” To those of you who are unfamiliar with the work of James Burnham, there is a social class of technocratic “experts” have largely taken over the workings of society in the West; a process which took place in the first half of the 20th century. While there have always been bureaucrats in civilized societies, the ones since around the time of Herbert Hoover have aped “scientific” solutions even where no such thing is actually possible. This social class of bureaucrats has had some mild successes; the creation of the American highway system, public health initiatives against trichinosis, US WW-2 production. But they have mostly discredited themselves for decades: aka the shitty roads in America, the unaffordable housing in major urban centers, a hundred million fat diabetics, deindustrialization because muh free market reasons, the covidiocy and most recently, the failure of every noteworthy technocrat in the world’s superpower to predict election outcomes and even its ability to honestly count its votes. Similar social classes interested in central planning also failed spectacularly in the Soviet Union, and led to the cultural revolution in China. There are reasons both obvious and deep as to why these social classes have failed.

The obvious reason is that mandarinates are inherently prone to corruption when there are no consequences for their failures. Bureaucrats are  wielders of power and have the extreme privilege of collecting a pension on the public expense. Various successful cultures had different ways of keeping them honest; the Prussians and pre-Soviet Russian bureaucrats recruited from honor cultures. Classical China and the early Soviets did it  via fear. The Soviet Union actually worked pretty well when the guys from Gosplan could be sent to the Gulag for their failings (or because Stalin didn’t like their neckties -keeps them on their toes). It progressively fell apart as it grew more civilized; by the 1980s, nobody was afraid of the late night knock on the door, and the Soviet  system fell apart when the US faked like it was going to build ridiculous space battleships. The rise of China has largely been the story of bureaucratic reforms by Deng where accountability (and vigorous punishment for malefactors) were the order of the day. Singapore makes bureaucrats meet regularly with their constituents; seems reasonable -don’t know why every society doesn’t make this a requirement. It is beyond question the American equivalent of the Gosplan mandiranate is almost unimaginably corrupt at this point, and the country is falling apart as a result. 

While it gives policy-makers a sense of agency having a data project, consider that there isn’t a single large scale data project beyond the search engine that has improved the lives of human beings. Mind you, the actual civilizational utility of the search engine is highly questionable. What improvement in human living standards has come of the advent of google in the last 20 years? The only valuable content on the internet is stuff made by human beings. Google effectively steals or destroys most of the revenue of content creators who made the stuff worth looking at in the first place. Otherwise, library science worked just fine without blue haired Mountain View dipshits running SVD on a link graph. INSPEC (more or less; dmoz for research) is 120 years old and is still vastly better for research than google scholar. Science made more progress then between 1898 and 2005 or so when google more or less replaced it: and the news wasn’t socially toxic clickfarming idiocy back when the CIA censored the  news instead of google komissars with facial piercings. These days google even sucks at being google; I generally have more luck with runaroo or just going directly to things on internet archive.

If “AIBigData” were so wonderful, you’d see its salutary effects everywhere. Instead, a visit to the center of these ideas, San Francisco is a visit to a real life dystopia.There are thousands of data projects which have made life obviously worse for people. Pretty much all of nutrition and public health research post discovery of vitamins, and statisticians telling people not to drink toilet water is worthless or actively harmful (look at all those fat people waddling around). Most biomedical research is false, and most commonly prescribed drugs are snake oil or worse. Various “pre-crime” models used to justify setting bail or prison sentences are an abomination. The advertising surveillance hellscape we’ve created for ourselves is both aesthetically awful and a gigantic waste of time. The intelligence surveillance hellscape we’ve created mostly keeps its crimes secret, and does nothing obviously helpful. Annoying advertising invading every empty space; I don’t want to watch ads to pump gas or get money from my ATM machine.  Show me something good these dorks have done for us; I’m not seeing it. Most of it is moronic overfitting to noise, evil or both.

It’s less obvious but can’t be stated often enough: often “there is no data in your data.” The technocracy’s mathematical tools boil down to versions of the t-test being applied to poorly sampled and/or heteroskedastic data where they may not be meaningful. The hypothesis under test may not have a meaningful null no matter how much data you collect. When they talk about “AI” I think it’s mostly aspirational; a way out of heteroskedasticity and actual randomness. It’s not; there are no “AI” t-tests in common use by these knuckleheads, and if there were, the upshot wouldn’t look that much different from 1970s era stats results. When they talk about big data, they don’t talk about \frac{1}{\sqrt{n}}, or issues like ROC curves and bias variance tradeoff. They certainly never talk about data which is heteroskedastic or simply random, which is most of it. 

In reality, data collection is mostly useless. In intelligence work, in marketing, political work: most of it is completely useless, and collecting it and acting on it is a sort of cargo cult for DBAs, cloud computing saleslizards, technocratic managerial nerds, economists, Nate Silver and other such human refuse. Once in a while it pays off. More often, the technocrat will take credit when things go his way and make complicated excuses when they don’t; just look at Nate Silver’s career for example; a clown with a magic 8-ball.  There’s an entire social class of “muh science” nerds who think it a sort of moral imperative to collect and act on data even if it is obviously useless. The very concept that their KPIs and databases might be filled with the sheerest gorp …. or that you might not be able to achieve marketing uplift no matter what you do… doesn’t compute for some people. 

Technocratic data people are mostly parasitic vermin and their extermination, while it would cut into my P/L, would probably be good for society. At the very least we should make their salaries proportional to (1- Brier) scores; that will require them to put error bars on their predictions, reward the competent and bankrupt the useless. Really though, they should all be sent to Idaho to pick potatoes. Or ….

On Leaving the Bay Area

Posted in fun by Scott Locklin on September 12, 2020

I left the Bay Area a couple of years ago.  I originally ended up in the Bad Area via misadventure, stayed because I had rent control and academic/business connections, and left the second or third time I had an opportunity which made sense.  I moved to New Hampshire because it was culturally similar to where I grew up, close to family, yet not ruled over by an imbecile viper pit like Boston.  Since the  urban professional class is the root of most problems in America today, I wanted to get as far away from such people as possible, their tax collectors, camp followers and Karens. Mind you Boston is vastly better than, say, San Francisco in almost every way.

The good about moving away:

Assuming you don’t move to some other urban hellscape like NYC, your life will immediately be better in obvious ways. There are no  rivers of human feces on the sidewalk of any other American  metropolis I know of. Virtually any place in America has fewer tent cities. Most of the country (now barring the PNW which has apparently imported California forestry practices) has breathable air 365.24 days of the year. Unless you’re poor or living in NYC, you will pay  lower taxes after you leave; assuming the FTB doesn’t come after you. You will also pay less in terms of rent or real estate than in the Bay Area. You’d have to work hard to find 3 million dollar shitty bungaloes with bars on the windows any place else.

Driving in NH is actually pleasant; better than 90s era Bay Area. The roads and infrastructure function more or less as they were designed to.  Speaking of roads, the Bay Area basically doesn’t have weather, meaning the simple governmental function of road maintenance should be trivial, but somehow the roads are awful. New Hampshire has torrents, huge temperature differentials, ice and snowstorms and somehow the roads are vastly better. Building new lanes or new stretches of highway takes months instead of decades. Of course, cross the border to Massholio and the roads are absolute shit again; kind of makes you think. 

There is no pollution to speak of in NH. There aren’t vast seasonal forest fires in NH because the state isn’t run by lunatics preventing normal forestry management practices. Don’t give me that shit about “muh they’re developing near forests” -literally every house in NH is near a forest.  Nature is generally pleasant in a place like NH; lovely forests, beaches, mountains, lakes and rivers within an hour of the urban areas. In California when visiting the convenient parts of nature, you may have some pleasant vistas, but you’re usually only a few yards behind some asshole burbling about his stock options and green commuter package.

10am in Oakland, Sept 9

My roof in Manchester on a random day in September

The architecture of New Hampshire is a vast improvement over the filth of the Bay Area. Houses and buildings can be hundreds of  years old and still in service. You can stay in 240 year old Inns; houses of this vintage are on the market, in good repair and are dirt cheap compared to anything in the Bay Area. Living in a house made with traditional materials and designed for the local climate is a joy. While the Bay Area had some Victorian and Art Deco housing stock and a few remaining googie buildings, most of it is disgusting postwar stuff made of drywall and paste. Being surrounded by and living in ugly and ill functioning architecture is demoralizing and a drain on your over all well being. NH is a huge win here. Even the new buildings are mostly constructed of adequate materials, and brick looks a lot nicer than plate glass and concrete.

Claremont: NH

Claremont CA

The streets of New Hampshire are safe despite (or because of) the fact that any non-felon can legally walk around with a  gun in their pocket. In the years I’ve spent in NH, there have been no pitched street battles over … people saying things … in the entire state; a regular fall occurrence in “home of the Free Speech Movement” Berkeley. Despite the existence of copwatch in places like Berkeley, and the lack thereof in NH, somehow NH police are not insane stormtroopers. My couple of encounters with police in NH have been entirely satisfactory; like something from Green Acres. It isn’t just me: there was some BLM guy on NPR saying more or less the same thing about NH cops. Oh yeah: it took me 20 minutes to get a NH drivers license and register a car; something that would be tortures of the damned in the California DMV. This is across the board my experience with NH state and city employees versus California. The NH public servants have universally been competent, pleasant, helpful and even forgiving when one makes a mistake. With one exception in 1996, my encounters with public servants in California have been  less satisfactory than my encounters with the local schizophrenic homeless population shitting on my doorstep. California public servants are often malicious or insane, and when they aren’t, they’re incompetent, unpleasant and will always chose malevolence over benevolence. Hell, even the post office in New Hampshire is a vastly better experience. Overall, NH civil servants act like, you know, civil servants rather than hostile occupying Gauleiters who are eager to send you to the gulag.

Google search results on “happy NH police”; they gave this girl a kitten because hers died

Google search results on “happy Berkeley police” -they threatened to quit unless allowed to go to some idiot exercise for murdering “extremists”

 The government of New Hampshire, what there is of it, seems to be run with Prussian efficiency. There is no income tax, so the money is generally collected near where it will be used. The lower house of representatives in NH has 400 members, so each member represents about 3000 people. They’re paid $200 a term and are only allowed to meet a few months a year; as a result, “NH politician” is not the scam it is in other states, and people rarely serve more than one or two terms. By contrast, in California, the State Assembly has 80 members, and each of these assclowns represents 450,000 people and is paid a six figure salary; they only recently enacted 12 year term limits. The results of all of this are predictable. New Hampshire is run like a pleasant and civilized democracy; more or less an American version of Switzerland. California is a banana republic ruled by Google dipshits and almond oligarchs rather than the United Fruit Company.

The people of the Bay Area are, taken on average, some of the lowest I’ve encountered in Western civilization, albeit with a high standard deviation. There are some very ambitious and hard working people there who may or may not be interesting or talented, but at least they keep the economy turning over: Steve Jobs, Alice Waters, Mitch Kapor, Larry Ellison are exemplars of the type.  There’s also a layer of interesting and or talented people there who work on difficult problems or are pleasant bohemian non-conformists; this group of people is who everyone in the Bay Area wants to see themselves as; John Perry Barlow, Wavy Gravy, Andy Grove, Elon Musk. There is a much larger layer of homeless scum who make life intolerable for normal people. Worse than that, most of the rest of the population consists of degenerate NPC and Karen types; vermin who will defend the right of the bum to shit on your doorstep or burn your house down. I don’t think such people deserve to live, let alone live near me. You’ll notice the missing ingredient which makes life impossible in the Bay Area; sensible working to middle class people who shut down the NPC and Karen types and roust the bums before they shit on the petunias. NH people: a normal distribution of social classes where the local aristocracy are taverners or dentists all the way down to a virtuous yeomanry of snow plow operators.

The average NH resident is something like a no-helmet motorcycle boomer who has a job as a construction worker. His ex wife is a nurse who has too many tattoos, and he takes his kids hunting and fishing. The eigen Bay Area resident has a trust fund, several mental illnesses they’re happy to tell you about, has extreme difficulty making it through a normal day even with the assistance of a half dozen brain-melting pharmaceuticals, but feels entitled to lecture you about how to live your life because they have a diploma in novel pronoun construction. 

The bad about moving away from the Bay Area:

The main downside is network effects: the Bay Area, for mostly historical reasons, has attracted a lot of talented and ambitious people. While I find NH people vastly more likeable on average, there are arguably not as many talented or ambitious ones per capita.  There are talented and interesting people around; Dean Kamen lives in Manchester, Dyn and Alumni ventures is based there, and there are a lot of old money people around who have good brains and who do interesting things. They’re just a lot harder to meet, and the overall density of talent is lower. This is in part because the population density is lower, but NH people, as peoples of the cold North, are also more reticent and less gregarious. America’s version of Norwegians. 

The lower density means there are fewer cafes and restaurants, so  you might have to drive a little farther for Ethiopian or whatever. If this is your criteria for living in a place, you should probably consider suicide. Covidiots have made this mostly irrelevant in any case.

Weather: you’ll have to get used to seasons and weather which might kill you. You probably will want a garage if you live in a winter climate. You’ll also need different clothes. Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder are real,  but are fairly easy to deal with. It’s worth it for keeping out the weak, scurrying pustules who ruined the Bad Area. 

That’s it; that’s the extent of the downsides. If you have a remote job anyway, and you’re not a scumbag, consider living in a place like NH.  If you want to live in a less shitty version of the Bay Area, consider Austin or Seattle. Also, seekers of alternate Bay Areas: fuck off, we’re full: the last thing any functioning society needs is your contributions. If you want a genuine lifestyle upgrade and can accept that New Hampshire is better precisely because and to the extent it doesn’t resemble the Bay Area, you’re very welcome: I might even help you to move.

Nothing works in California; it is “failed state” tier. It is also a preview of the national dystopia to come if California isn’t sawed off and left to drift off to sea in a Calexit. It is either that, give it back to Mexico, or a war of extermination -nothing less will save us from the nightmarish California Dream. The Bay Area has nice weather, and some interesting people live there out of what I assume is inertia and provincialism, but there is no worse place to live in North America today. It’s a physical paradise made into dystopian hellscape by the people who live in it. 

I remember sitting in an early internet cafe on Haight street called “The Horseshoe.” It was 1996, so “internet cafe” meant you’d stick quarters into an IBM PC with 9600 baud dialup to check your email on the VMS machine at work. There was a pile of ‘zines’ there; back then, zines were the voice of the people rather than whatever corporate  panopticon twitwaffle horror is supposed represent people’s voice now. Inside this zine was Jim Goad’s essay “Bay Aryan Resistance” which is still the best essay on what is wrong with the majority of people who congregate in that wretched place. Now you’ve got natural disasters, urban riots, sinister panopticon lizard companies and a government which is completely insane to go along with it. Good luck with that. As Jim put it:

“Tony Bennet left his heart, I took a dump: I’d tell you to go to hell but you already live there.”

William R. Corliss and open problems in science

Posted in Corliss, Open problems by Scott Locklin on August 2, 2020

William Corliss was a physicist and rocket scientist from the heroic golden age of physics. He did great work in everything from nuclear engineering, to telerobotics, to neutron spectroscopy, to space flight; a real universal man in the last exciting time in science. What we know him for most these days though are his catalogs of things we don’t know. 

Looked a lot like my late pal Marty as well

He represents exactly my kind of scientist; one who is interested in the cool stuff happening in current year, and all the stuff we don’t know. You infectious human waste “who fucking love science” don’t actually. Science is about the mystery. It’s not a clerisy you can use to bludgeon  your political opponents, nor a series of facts you can feel smug about “knowing” about; it’s about appreciating the wonder of all of it. It’s insufficiently appreciated what a bunch of dumbasses humans are, and how little we actually know about matters of the utmost importance to our self understanding as human beings. Most modern clerisy “scientists” couldn’t even tell you about important open problems in their field. They’re too busy filling out forms, grubbing for money and social status, diddling their students and engaging in maoist witch hunts to bother with the reason all honest people become scientists; appreciating the wonders of nature and figuring things out.

Corliss’ work looks like it more or less wrapped up around the mid-90s; it’s truly enormous and it was almost entirely done before the internet era. He has a sensible rating system involving quality of data and extremity of anomaly. Many of the really big mysteries mentioned are still mysteries. It vast, and at this point I own enough of it I don’t have to worry about you guys cleaning up on volumes I may not have yet. Of course, most of it is not so mysterious, but it is at least noteworthy and thought provoking. Pointing out a certain kind of rock formation is weird and interesting is vastly superior to never mentioning the weird rocks.

Contemplate writing two feet worth of authoritative books on biology, astronomy, meteorology, geology and archaeology before Al Gore invented the internet, while maintaining an active career in rocket science. There’s more to it than meets the eye here; this represents the in-print stuff and a few out of print books I managed to get my hands on: there is more of his work is in out of print books, and some of it only exists in his newsletters, some of which his son has preserved online.

Most of it is taken from Science, Nature and other respectable scientific journals. People will grouse about it, because people always grouse, but he seemed to do a bang up job of picking out interesting things for which there are no reasonable explanations, and a lot more things which are merely “pretty damn weird.” Probably using stuff like index cards.

Now some of it may seem fruity to smug yutzes. Dr. Corliss has a section on the Yeti in Biological Anomalies Humans III. However most of the citations are from, as I said, Science and Nature. Should we ignore these lacunae, “fucking love science” dipshits? I think at this point where even primitive barbarians have ipotato, it’s probable there is no Yeti hominid, but Corliss’ probability of this being a big deal back in 1994 is still approximately correct as far as I can tell. Even if the Yeti is ultimately silly and wrong, his preservation of wonderful tales of the Orang Pendek (a legendary sumatran dwarf homonid race)  or the Agogwe (african mini yeti) a few pages afterwords makes it all worth while.

Since I’ve got this giant stack of books of weird lacunae in the sciences, as I thumb through them, I’ll post a few here, checked against the latest research, at least as well as the most convenient search engines go. Maybe one or two will be worth a full sperdo nerding out on. Ideally to make some of you think about something useful, but at the very least, kick his kids a few bucks by buying his books

A few tastes: 

Fat tropical animals: here’s one looking us in the face: why the fook would fat animals be happy in the tropics? It’s possibly a recent evolutionary adaptation, hippos being in the tropcs, but it’s bloody weird. Most animals, even people are well suited to the climates they live in with physical adaptations that help. BMI3

Human Mortality Correlated with Geomagnetic Activity: here’s one Corliss rated as fairly low in data quality back when he wrote about it, but top notch as an anomaly if it turns out to be true. The geomagnetic field has weird disturbances correlated with the quasiperiodic solar activity. Apparently this also causes premature death. Obviously nobody knows why, but it is fairly well documented at this point;  with the years since Corliss originally wrote about it in BHF32 (Human Anomalies II) (one of his original refs conveniently available here), it’s become fairly well known. I linked seven references above; there are probably a hundred.

Nonrandom Direction-of-Approach of Comets to the Sun: the prevailing theory of the Oort cloud is comets should approach the sun from random directions. People are fairly certain that comet approaches are non-random. Lots of evidence of it; people are more certain than ever that there is something going on here, and various ideas on galactic tidal forces have been proposed to deal with it. (ACB2 The Sun and Solar System Debris)

 Bone Caves, Bone Caches and Other Superficial Accumulations of Bones: -this used to be a trope of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs books; aka the elephant graveyard of lore. There are numerous examples of this, though Corliss kind of lumps them together in ESD1 (Neglected Geological Anomalies). Some of them are dinosaurs falling into a ravine and being pickled in the moss that eventually becomes coal. But it’s still freaking weird. Other bone caves are just insane; such things used to be considered evidence by geologists for the Great Flood back when that was the dominant paradigm (150 years ago isn’t that long). He gives this top ratings for weirdness; very strong data, very weird phenomenon. Moderns apparently just ignore it, despite the fact that Darwin himself thought it pretty peculiar.

Production-Consumption Discrepancy in Prehistoric Lake Superior Copper Mining. I bet most of you didn’t know that North America had pre-european copper mines; Indians had been mining copper there for 5000 years. Personally I consider this pretty weird in itself. It’s a fact, and it’s largely ignored. What propels it to “holy shit that’s weird” territory is nobody knows what happened to most of the copper (MSE6 “Ancient Infrastructure”). The calculation of how much copper was taken out of there is pretty straightforward, and copper doesn’t disappear easily; there are copper and bronze artifacts from the Americas (and everywhere else) from that long ago. The speculation is that, perhaps Phonecian Merchants (or Egyptians or Aliens or whatever) were trading with the Americas for much longer than we know. It is in principle a knowable thing; one can identify artifacts made with the particular chemical composition of Lake Superior Copper.  Not something likely to make you friends in the Archaeology department though.