Friday Fluff – October 15th, 2010

By Razib Khan | October 15, 2010 7:52 am


1. First, a post from the past: 10 questions for Jim Crow

2. Weird search query of the week: “black mormons in utah”. They exist. One of my friends from college ended up marrying one and they live in Utah (he is Mormon as well, though not black).

3. Comment of the week, in response to Facebook & Dunbar’s number:

My personal hypothesis (henceforth to be known as Sandgroper’s First Hypothesis and kicked along for the next 25 years by a bunch of pseudo-intellectual airheads, since it seems OK with a lot of ’scientists’ to establish long-lived hypotheses based on slim anecdotal data) is that Dunbar’s number is shrinking. We no longer live in villages, but impersonal mega-cities. I have known of people who literally wound up not knowing anyone on any real personal level and died totally alone and friendless, some by suicide, and some sleeping and pissing on the streets despite being financially wealthy. People we converse with online we don’t really know in any true sense.

Yeah, sometimes I wish I was a meerkat. Or at least that all of my family lived or could stay in one continent, the ones I care about at least.

I never signed up for Facebook or Twitter, and would rather walk miles to talk to someone face to face than call them on the phone. This is eccentric of me and is going to have to change real soon.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to watching the progressing rescue of 33 Chilean miners who have become very dear friends of mine (no they haven’t), plus of course the 4 rescue crew who have been lowered down the hole. What I want to know is how the last guy out is going to fasten the door on the Fenix 2 capsule so that they can winch him to the surface, given that the catches are on the outside of the door. Unless they have a duplicate set inside – I hope that’s the case, but I don’t know how smart Chilean engineers are – that contraption looks worryingly Heath-Robinson to me, and this is a field I know about.

The last thing you want at the site of an emergency rescue operation, apart from a ravening press mob, is a slimy grandstanding politician, and here we have two. I’ve been at sites where there were dozens of the bastards, posing grinning in front of locations where corpses of victims had very recently been extracted. (In fairness, in those cases, the press were pretty good, they kept their distance and didn’t get in the way.) If you ever need anything to destroy your faith in human nature, that will do it. But that’s getting pretty far from the point. Sorry Zeeb, my brain seems to wander. Can’t imagine why.

4) From last week: “Will the average human be wealthier 25 years from now?” 60% of you said yes, 20% said no, and 20% said uncertain.

View Survey

5) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

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  • bioIgnoramus
  • David Kane

    I thought “post from the past: 10 questions for Jim Crow” meant that you were writing a post in your ten question mode, but “interviewing” Jim Crow, the Southern system of segregation pre-1970. That would make for an interesting post!

  • miko

    Speaking of genomes (smooth segue), I am starting a blog that will at some point be mostly about my own genome, since joining the PGP-1K. (I think another regular here is in as well?) Anyway, I will try to start getting interesting content going. I won’t be able to do the kinds of in-depth analysis Razib does, but will do my best. So, GNXPers, point your web navigator to RXNM, the handy short-url rendering of the blog name, Reaction Norm. I realized immediately that it would be a much better blog title if my name were, in fact, Norm, just as Razib really should have let someone named Eugene have this blog.

    Think I’m full of shit here? Bring your shovel on over some time…

  • Razib Khan

    the other 1000er is paul conroy.

  • Razib Khan

    also, if anyone else in the project wants to blog their own exp. with the PGP, tell, i’ll link you up.

  • Sandgroper

    Yay, I made it!

    The answer was that they did have catches on the inside of the door as well, but the last guy down the hole had a bit of a hard time getting into the capsule because there was no one else down there to hold it steady.

    The hypothesis snark was in reference to Salem’s Hypothesis, framed 22 years ago on the strength of an anecdotal sample of one, which now gets referenced in research papers by sociologists as supporting evidence.

    The meerkat comment was miko’s fault.

  • Sandgroper

    BTW, I think the survey thing might not be working properly – I have clicked the Finish Survey button 3 times now, and it doesn’t go away.


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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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