Around the Web – December 13th, 2010

By Razib Khan | December 13, 2010 10:34 am

Estimating Heritability Using Twins. Luke Jostins lays out the A’s, E’s, and C’s. Very informative. This part was kind of funny though: “Interestingly, the Bioscience Resource Project post cites this paper, which makes their mistake somewhat surprising.” Wonder if Luke is making a reference to the tendency for people not to read papers they cite too closely.

The cell is a messy place: understanding alternative splicing with RNA sequencing. Another of the talks about a paper they just published in PLoS Genetics.

One of the Sweden Bombs Exploded Prematurely. Looks like Sweden dodged a bomb here, more or less. But ~5% of Sweden’s population is Muslim (culturally or by practice), mostly from Middle Eastern countries. It cancels some of Sweden’s historic military neutrality out when you bring populations recently subject to political disturbance into the nation. I say some because Britain has recently combined worst of both worlds, importing in a culturally alienated population along with an adventurous high-risk foreign policy.

Humans Helped Vultures Colonize the Canary Islands. Humans are not exogenous to the ecosystem; we’re part of it. Less evident in the post-industrial age, but more so in the pre-industrial one.

Analysis of streptococcal CRISPRs from human saliva reveals substantial sequence diversity within and between subjects over time. Personalized dentistry?

Sincerest Form of Flattery: Some Joke! About “intellectual property theft” in comedy. Comedians seem to be taking the practice more in stride than other groups.

Poland, Bastion of Religion, Sees Rise in Secularism. One should be cautious of causality. Something similar has happened in Spain, and there the Church has progressively been marginalized from its central role during the Franco regime.

The Tragic Decline of Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast is a case of re-equilibrium and with feedback loops. Its economic prosperity drew migrants, who eventually became the source of political discord, which removed the economic prosperity which drew the migrants.

Change in voter turnout from 2008 to 2010.

New Study Reports Men Fake Orgasms Too. “He attributes this rise to the proliferation of SSRI-based antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil….”

Why Most Hardware Specs Are Total Bullshit. ” A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that quantitative specifications are so powerful that, even when given the ability to directly test the attributes of a given product ourselves, we still tend to choose the thing with the longer list and bigger numbers (ahem, megapixels).”

Push for Stricter Abortion Limits Is Expected in House. This sort of thing is symbolic, but usually boots the percentage who identify as “pro-choice.”

Bizarre Reptile Challenges Notion of Crocodiles as ‘Living Fossils’. The whole ‘living fossils’ concept is more trouble than its worth.

The George Clooney Effect – High-Earning Women ‘want Older, More Attractive Partners’, Research Finds. They did a study on this?

Genome-Wide Screen for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Genes That Regulate Host Immunity.

Caste, Hinduism and Human Rights. ” Contrary to the wide academic and media conflation of caste and Hinduism, the practice of caste-based discrimination is in direct contradiction to the quintessential Hindu teaching that each individual is equally divine and has the potential to realize God based on his or her own effort.” As an irreligious atheist I always roll my eyes when religious people claim that unpalatable practice Y which is strongly correlated with religion X is actually in total contradiction with X. But something like caste in Hinduism seems to be ameliorated much more by economic development than the fulminations by religious leaders.

Sexual Display and Mate Choice in an Energetically Costly Environment. ” We found that male guppies performed fewer sexual displays and became less choosy, with respect to female size, in the presence of a water current compared to those tested in still water. In contrast to males, female responsive to male displays did not differ between the water current treatments and females exhibited no mate preferences with respect to male size or coloration in either treatment. ”

Five Films Where the Asian Male Lead Gets the Girl. Yes, we’re still talking about this in 2010.

Madoff Trustee Seeks $19.6 Billion From Austrian Banker.

Eugenics Has Become Personal.

Duffledud. “The new Narnia movie doesn’t revive the magical franchise.” I’m waiting for The Hobbit.

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  • diana

    “Asian Male Lead” – Keanu Reeves is beginning to look more and more Asian to me. Why do they never refer to his non-trivial amount of non-European ancestry in any of his movies?

  • Razib Khan

    he’s a ‘heartthrob.’ they don’t want to ruin the illusion 😉

  • Mike Keesey

    The notion that crocodylians are morphologically conservative was dismissed decades ago. The only reason this is news is because people outside of of vertebrate paleontology haven’t been paying attention. (Well, and also because a detailed paper was recently published on a rather bizarre stem-crocodylian.)

    “Living fossil” is a pernicious term, but you could create an objective definition for it: “a living taxon belonging to a clade in which the only previously-named taxa are based on fossils”. Of course, this means the category of “living fossil” is an artifact of our history of scientific nomenclature, not a true evolutionary category. Under this definition, living coelacanths and Laotian rock rats are living fossils, but crocodylians and monotremes are not.

  • Mike Keesey

    @Diana, well, he did play Siddhartha:

  • JL

    The comments section of the Madoff article is hilarious, even if the joke is obvious.

  • ziel

    In case anyone wants to see what the Laotian Rock Rat Mike Keesey mentions looks like but doesn’t want to go thru the trouble of typing it into Google, here’s a link. You only have to go down one page to see the requisite image of Karl Rove.

  • diana

    #2 – you saying that playing a gay rent boy (Private Idaho) doesn’t ruin the illusion, but being part E. Asian does? Very well. Gee, those E. Asian guys got it rough! :)

    #5 – Yeah but he was “blacked up” for the part. It was in the grand tradition of playing against type.

    KR has several times referred to himself as a “white boy”. Look at these pictures of a distinctly Asian/Polynesian kid….who grew up to be white. Weird!

  • diana

    PS Weird, or eyelid surgery?


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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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