Announcing PLoS Blogs. This looks to be a season of shakeups and transitions in the science blogosphere. Expect some more in the near future from what I’ve been told.
Oh, No, It’s a Girl! South Asians Flock to Sex-Selection Clinics in U.S.. There’s variation in sex ratio bias within India, and it is notable one of the women they highlight in the article flew in from Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver of course has a huge Punjabi community, and this is the ethnic group which has made the most use of sex selective abortion within India (with sex ratio imbalances in rural Punjab resulting in the movement, licit and illicit, of women from eastern South Asia to be brides for Punjabi farmers). Smell that Canadian diversity! On the other hand, please note that in Japan, and then South Korea, the strong preference for males shifted to females with economic development and smaller families. This seems a clear case where economic development results in an uplift from barbarism. In my own extended family in Bangladesh the move has been to a two child ideal, and often there is a preference for daughters first because sons are perceived to be a riskier proposition, and if you have only one or two children you want to avoid possible problems (this is the avowed rationale at least).
Reading Arabic Isn’t Easy, Brain Study Suggests. They’re suggesting here that Arabic script is just harder to learn than alphabets. If you’ve tried to read Arabic you know why. The implication here is that this retards development of literacy, but from what I can recall the same general class of issues arises with Chinese characters. There are supposed benefits to this slower and more labored development though.
Vitamin D Is a Prognostic Marker in Heart Failure, Study Finds. Just an observational study. A correlation if you will. Stop the presses when they do a randomized trial and find something. Heart disease is still killer #1.
Weight Index Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth. The tension between BMI’s population wide informativeness and the large error on an individual level is problematic in terms of public understanding of the underlying issues.