Open Thread – November 27th, 2010

By Razib Khan | November 27, 2010 2:16 pm

Hope Thanksgiving went well for Americans. I didn’t gain weight at all, 142lbs as of Friday morning!

Out of curiosity, what fiction do you read?

Also, check out Dienekes post on the ability to generate disjoint clusters in the DODECAD sample set. He asserts that one may now be able to generate extreme fine-scale assessments of likely population assignment from genetic material now. Check out this table; each column after the first two are the number of individuals in a given cluser. The rows are populations. The second column are the N individuals.

Last week’s This American Life had a segment on dog feces DNA fingerprinting. I think this is a good idea.


Comments (18)

  1. zachk

    currently reading A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

  2. zachk

    oh, and Eliezer Yudkowski’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality fanfic, which is just awesome:

  3. Faze

    The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, by G.K. Chesteron

  4. Christopher

    Most of my reading is non-fiction. I would say most of the fiction works I consume is television or webcomics.

    When I read written fiction, it’s mostly science fiction.

  5. Zora

    Science fiction: just about everything except milSF and even then I make an embarrassed exception for David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Oh, and Lois Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan novels (no embarrassment there). Ditto Walter Jon Williams Dread Empire’s Fall. Special love for Charlie Stross, Iain Banks, Vernor Vinge, Ursula K. LeGuin, Neal Stephenson … and classic SF.

    Victorian novels. I have an odd taste for religious novels, from George MacDonald to Charlotte Yonge.

    Jane Austen. Vikram Seth. Murasaki Shikibu. Robert Van Gulik. Tony Hillerman. Robertson Davies. Rumer Godden. M. M. Kaye. Dorothy Sayers. Patrick O’Brian.

  6. I’ll read just about anything. I tend to be weighted towards science fiction and European and Asian novels, particularly Russian and Japanese Lit. I read more fiction than non-fiction.

  7. dan

    zach – i do believe that is the most disturbing link i’ve ever seen. thank you

  8. Clive Barker, vampire fiction (Anne Rice, short stories, about to start Laurell K. Hamilton’s series, open to all but NOT Twilight or teenybopper vamp fic), mysteries heavy on psychology (Jonathan Kellerman) or medicine (Tess Gerritsen), Renaissance fiction, Jim Morrison’s poetry, and Henry Rollins’ dispatches in book form.

  9. Good fiction books I’ve read in the last few months:

    Child 44 (an terrific story about tracking a serial killer in Stalinist Russia)
    Little Bee (a brutal and tender story about cutting off a finger to save a little girl)
    Matterhorn (a poorly-written but highly descriptive/engrossing novel about Vietnam)
    Beat the Reaper (an entertaining crime novel about a Jewish hitman-turned-doctor)
    White Tiger (a rags-to-riches story, so to speak, that takes place in India)
    The Secret Speech (a follow-up to Child 44–decent but not engrossing)

  10. Short stories by Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon always rock. Rocking out a Vonnegut collection atm. Whenever I recommend something, it’s House of Leaves by Danielewski. It’s my favorite and also the most impressive work of fiction I’ve ever seen, by far.

  11. omar

    I used to read anything I could find, especially thrillers, spy novels, Sci-fi. Now I mostly read non-fiction, but have caught up on some classics and I really enjoyed “a case of exploding mangoes” by Mohammed Hanif because I grew up in that world of Pakistani military academies and cantonements and I think he got it perfectly. I read White Tiger and thought it was OK, but not great. I read some Wang Shuo novel a few years ago and enjoyed it, probably mostly for its novelty (Chinese noir). I also had a Japanese phase for a while (Kenzaburo Oe and Ishiguro, etc) but now find them a bit depressing. I have read some Murakami books and enjoyed them. I think Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses were good, but have not read his recent books. I also loved Sebald’s Emigrants and “The Rings of Saturn”. And I am always up for anything by Burroughs. Also Borges.
    I also listen to a fair number of audio-books in the car. I finally heard Ulysses recently (and loved it). In fact, if you drive a lot and have time to kill, do get the audio book of Ulysses. Its really good. Also heard “portrait of the artist..” after that and loved it.

  12. Zach K
  13. Clark

    So that’s the secret to finishing Ulysses. Get the Audible version. That’s a book I’ve started more times than I care to admit…

  14. I am very much in Zora’s camp, as far as modern fiction goes. Sci-fi, and most of the same names. I also read the ancient Greeks and Romans, sadly, not in original languages.

    These days I write more than I read, not enough hours in a day to do both. My writing is sci-fi.

  15. I once found myself with the runs coming on and unable to locate a public restroom, so I hopped a high fence and befouled someone’s backyard. Afterward a nagging fear in the back of my brain imagined I might be caught (with such advances in modern science playing a role) and I wished I had left an apologetic note and maybe some money in compensation.

    I decided fiction was bad for my epistemic hygiene, so I just read non-fiction books. A little while back I started keeping a list of books to read and simply moving entries rather than deleting them once finished. So I can just copy-paste what I’ve read. I was about to do that here, but rather than clutter up the comment section here I’ll do that at my own place and just link.

  16. Roy

    The Food and Nutrition Board: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has finally published its Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D

    The gist is that taking vitamin D doesn’t do any good and probably does harm.


    The very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories — and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. […]

    The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit scientific body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much. […]

    Evidence also suggests that high levels of vitamin D can increase the risks for fractures and the overall death rate and can raise the risk for other diseases[…]
    what surprised Dr. Black. “We thought that probably higher is better,” he said.

    He has changed his mind, and expects others will too: “I think this report will make people more cautious.”

    Common sense from the Mermaid’s Tale Supplemental data on vitamin D supplementation

    In a population with high prevalence of chronic disease, it’s very easy to establish a link with inadequate vit D (defined, essentially, as the level found in most of the unhealthy population), for someone who wants to believe it. But, it’s often impossible to say which came first, the purportedly low vitamin D levels or disease.


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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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