Might not post these every day for a few weeks as I’ll be busy, and not on the net as much. So no more “Daily” Data Dump until I’m more assured of my schedule.
In Icy Tip of Afghanistan, War Seems Remote. Profiles the people of the Wakhan Corridor, which is part of Afghanistan mostly because of the 19th century “Great Game” between Russia and the United Kingdom. The most striking aspect for the journalist seems to have been that the local Nizari Ismaili population of ethnic Kirghiz do not have their women don the burqa, except in the major town where ~50% of the population are Sunni Muslims. The Nizari Muslims are led by the Aga Khan, who holds the position of imam for this sect. Interestingly the current holder of the title is half-English, one-fourth Italian, and one-fourth Persian. He is married to an Englishwoman. Even the Sunni Kirghiz are generally not as punctilious about adhering to the normative Islam of Central Asia, so I don’t think we should chalk up all the differences to religion.
Debt Collectors Face a Hazard: Writer’s Cramp. I suspect many readers have had to deal with debt-collectors who keep calling for other people at their phone number, and won’t stop calling. Just the tip of the iceberg.
Why We Haven’t Met Any Aliens. Basically extinction by consumerist nihilism. I’ve offered a less gloomy assessment in a similar vein. But this may all be wrong. The choke point to intelligent life may be the switch from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. If that’s the case the ascent toward sentience might stall out a real low level of complexity.
PacBio IPO, Not Exactly the Netscape Moment of 2010, But a Win for Genomics. Competition pushes down prices. Basic economics driving innovation.
Evolution of Fairness Driven by Culture, Not Genes. “Biologically speaking, people in the study weren’t fundamentally different from their circa-200,000 B.C. ancestors, or from each other.” A 200,000 year span would probably make the assertion trivially false, but a 10,000 year span may also be false. Culture can drive changes in biology, and biology can set the preconditions for culture. Dichotomies and contrasts make neat titles, even bloggers know that, but they probably aren’t going to get us too far when it comes to properly characterizing the shape of human behavior.