in post

4 August 2021

The Virus

What I see, when I look at the John Hopkins site, is that this Delta variant causes a big rise in infections, in the countries where it becomes prominent, and then there is either stabilization or a fall-off. That's true even in countries like India, where the majority of the population remains unvaccinated. I expect that will happen here in Israel too. But I think we are going to be living with this virus for a long time; and there may even be worse variants. But, of course, if a disease kills too many people, it also hurts its own ability to propagate.

White grub beetles

Last night I woke up and decided to make myself a cup of tea, in which I discovered one of those pesky brown bugs of the season. Every summer we have a spate of these, which are called locally "khomeinim". I had no idea of the formal name, so I spent a considerable time trying to find out who and what they are.

It turns out that the formal name is Maladera insabalis. They were first observed and classified by entomologists in northern India, in 1894. They reached Israel in 1983, probably coming with the import of pistachio nuts originating in Iran. They quickly spread here as they have no natural enemies. As grubs, they feed on the roots of plants like sweet potatoes. As beetles, they eat foliage of citrus and other fruit trees, so they are regarded as a dangerous agricultural pest. But for those of us who are not farmers, they are a bothersome insect, as they tend to come by the thousand, and are attracted to house lights. They get inside homes through the smallest aperture and generally make a nuisance of themselves, once they are in. They don't bite and are quite harmless unless they happen to crawl inside one's ears. They are known to produce a bad odor when stepped upon. The bad smell is also present when they are vacuumed up. When they first emerged in Israel, someone thought they were a new species, so he gave them the name Maladera matrida. "Matrida" is a Hebrew word meaning bothersome. But it later emerged that they had been discovered almost a century earlier.

They are a cousin of the Japanese beetle, the colorful pest that I recall from the US (they defoliate vegetables and garden plants). But, as far as I remember, the latter are less annoying than these brown bugs and less likely to get inside.

Links

Talks 'constructive', India & China say remaining issues to be resolved in expeditious manner - The Print

But I just read that India is sending warships into the South China Sea. That doesn't sound like the thing to do if they want those talks to go well.

Why is China smashing its tech industry? - Noahpinion

Fascinating.

Belarus exile group leader Vitaly Shishov found dead in Kyiv, police say - The Guardian

Shishov’s disappearance came as the Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics and threatened with forced repatriation for criticising her athletics federation on social media.

‘Emergency meeting’: Israeli cyberarms firms scramble after NSO scandal - Haaretz.com

The hacking of Indian democracy - The Hindu

an inquiry at the highest level under the supervision of the judiciary is a constitutional necessity. If this does not take place, India will cease to call itself a democracy.

Pegasus: Why Americans should be alarmed by the spyware controversy in India - Scroll

The destruction of Indian democratic institutions under Narendra Modi since he came to power in 2014 is well documented. If these new allegations are left unaddressed, which is the most likely outcome, their chilling effect on society will ensure India’s swift decline into a sham democracy like Russia.

Pegasus spyware found on journalists’ phones, French intelligence confirms - The Guardian

UN health agency wants Israel, others to stop COVID booster shot campaign - Haaretz.com

WHO officials say the science is unproven about whether giving booster shots to people who have already received two vaccine doses is effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“We call on everyone with influence – Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders and every individual in their own family and community – to support our call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September,” Tedros said.