Around the Web – December 20th, 2010

By Razib Khan | December 20, 2010 3:01 am

Countdown to Christmas! Hope everyone has pleasant holidays.

Apple v Google. Very long article highlighting the different strategies of the two companies. I do though think Google is starting to get a touch annoying trumpeting their “open ways.” They’re not a struggling start-up, they’re a massive corporation.

More on “culturomics”. Also see the #ngrams hash-tag.

Hmong’s new lives in Caribbean. They’re 1% of French Guinea’s population, but control 70% of the agriculture, since arriving in the 1970s.

Cables Reveal Resentment at Chinese Influence in Africa. Resentment isn’t going to stop the investment. In some ways we’re in the early stages of a latter day Scramble for Africa, though is a matter more of economic than political hegemony.

Evolution of an Agriculture-Associated Disease Causing Campylobacter coli Clade: Evidence from National Surveillance Data in Scotland. ” Taken together these analyses are consistent with an evolutionary scenario describing the emergence of agriculture-associated C. coli lineage that is an important human pathogen.”

Mark Madoff’s Name Became Too Big a Burden to Bear. His more calculating brother is still alive, as is his sociopathic father.

I Want Chromedroid. “Google’s new Android phone and cloud-based Chrome computer would work better together.”

In India, Chinese Leader Pushes Trade. It seems inevitable that there’ll be a political chasm widening while economic integration continues apace.

Upwardly Mobile. I don’t get Angry Birds.

In France, Civil Unions Gain Favor Over Marriage. I favor marriage personally, but there is something to the argument in my opinion that some people are dispositionally unsuited to a multi-decade commitment.

Sweden Bombing Doesn’t Soil Image of Tolerance. ‘…image, as captured by a security camera: a man in a red jacket kneeling by the dying bomber, asking if there was anything he could do for the man while other bystanders, spying unexploded pipe bombs still strapped to the man’s waist, backed away, shouting, “Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!”’ You wonder why Finns think something is off with the Swedes?

Stockholm bomber denounced by father-in-law. ‘In the letter, written in Arabic, Thwany said Abdulwahab had betrayed Sweden, “which gave us home and treated us well and offered us things that others, Arabs, non-Arabs, Muslims and non-Muslims, refrained from doing.”‘ If troops in Muslim lands was an issue it seems that Taimour Abdulwahab would have attempted terrorism in Britain. Sweden’s commitment in Afghanistan seems token by comparison to what Britain has been involved in in both Afghanistan and Iraq. So other issues probably were important, such as the ‘blasphemous’ Swedish cartoonist. Of course my liberal friends will perhaps suggest that Swedish racism played a role in this (mind you, I believe that Europeans are more racist than Americans, even if they are not malicious about it). But if racism was a primary predictive variable then Russia should be ground-zero of terrorism. As it is, Russian “Islamic” terrorism is pretty straightforward Caucasian nationalism which requires minimal unpacking. More Black September than Al-Qaeda.

Epstein-Barr: Scientists Decode Secrets of a Very Common Virus That Can Cause Cancer.

Feast, Famine and the Genetics of Obesity: You Can’t Have It Both Ways.

Report Names Kosovo Leader as Crime Boss. Though of us who are skeptical of humanitarian intervention generally have the attitude that foreign conflicts are never as black-white as they are portrayed. It was pretty obvious back in 1999 that the KLA had a thuggish side. There were no angels in the conflict, just demons and more demonic. Similarly, Paul Kagame’s forces defeated an explicitly genocidal Hutu regime, but has been implicated in its own massacres. International relations is more alchemy than physics.

Anti-Austerity Protest in Greece Turns Violent. Wow. Every news story makes me wonder if it’s the end of Europe as we know it.

General Epistatic Models of the Risk of Complex Diseases. ” These results imply that, in general, gene interactions will result in greater heritability of a complex inherited disease than is expected on the basis of a multiplicative model of interactions and hence may provide a partial explanation for the problem of missing heritability of complex diseases.”

The Rate of Fitness-Valley Crossing in Sexual Populations. “We find that low recombination rates can speed up valley crossing relative to the asexual case, while higher recombination rates slow down valley crossing, with the transition between the two regimes occurring when the recombination rate between the loci is approximately equal to the selective advantage provided by the adaptation.”

The evolution of dissent. “Even more intriguing is the implications for understanding cultural-genetic co-evolution. After all, we know that viruses and their hosts co-evolve in a kind of arms race – sometimes ending up in a relationship that benefits both.”

Where Unconscious Memories Form.

Meet the woman without fear. Much of the phenomena was expected, but not this (at least for me): “She’ll happily stand a foot away from complete strangers, far closer than most people would be comfortable with (even though, again, she understands the concept of personal space).”

Mystery pigs of tropical Asia, and capturing them on film.

Why Humans Are More Sensitive to Certain Viruses: Primate Immune System Differences Identified.

Staying active lessens age-related weight gain, especially in women. I guess the sex difference makes this not necessarily a “duh” study.

SNL Digital short captures something essential about being a 20 year old male. NSFW.

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  • bioIgnoramus

    “the end of Europe as we know it”: you could argue that Greece ended two millenia ago. It’s been a slightly displaced part of the levant for some time now.

  • BrianDH

    > I do though think Google is starting to get a touch annoying trumpeting their “open ways.” They’re not a struggling start-up, they’re a massive corporation.

    Personally, that’s what’s most endearing to me: the fact that they’re a massive corporation, yet still promoting open technologies. e.g.:
    * Linux (through kernel contributions and various sponsorships, though I’d like to see a few more of Google’s Desktop apps, notably SketchUp, ported to Linux)
    * WebM and various other HTML5-related tech
    * V8 (Chrome’s Javascript engine, which indirectly [via competition] has boosted the performance of other browsers’ engines [even, *gasp* the upcoming IE9’s Chakra], and is open source to boot)
    * Google Web Toolkit
    * Google Code Project Hosting (which is rivaled, IMHO, only by Canonical’s [the company behind Ubuntu Linux] Launchpad and perhaps GitHub [which arguably serves a subtly different purpose])
    * Closure Javascript tools
    * ….

    Granted, most of the above directly or indirectly “improve” the web, which is in Google’s best interests given that, to a degree, the more successful the web is — and the more “open” it is (i.e., accessible to their crawlers) — the more money Google makes. Yet many of those same things benefit Bing and Yahoo just as well; moreover, they could have taken a much more closed route (see Facebook) in their business practices.

    I will say, though, that the potential for vendor lock-in with Google Apps is a tad concerning. Sure, most of your data is portable in one way or another, but I’d like to see the process become more streamlined. My philosophy is that you should be confident enough in your product that you shouldn’t have to worry about your users downloading their data and running.

    > SNL Digital short captures something essential about being a 20 year old male. NSF.

    Wow, they got an NSF grant for that? Innovative. 😉

  • TheDude

    “(…) some people are dispositionally unsuited to a multi-decade commitment.”

    Aphorism 406 of Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human:

    When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself: do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this women up into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation.

  • Bert

    “Anti-Austerity Protest in Greece Turns Violent. Wow. Every news story makes me wonder if it’s the end of Europe as we know it.”

    The article mentioned 20,000 on strike, that’s not really that much. In Europe we’re used to much, much worse. I’m actually a bit surprised how little protests and strikes there have been the last year. Considering all the austerity plans.

  • AG

    “Hmong’s new lives in Caribbean. They’re 1% of French Guinea’s population, but control 70% of the agriculture, since arriving in the 1970s.”

    Another example of market-dominant minority phenomenon in progress.

  • Razib Khan

    no. you really should be careful with words here. the hmong are extensive farmers par excellence. in guinea they have a perfect ecology for their talents. but they aren’t anything like southeast asians or jews. they’re more like afrikaners in south africa or bengalis in assam.

  • Neuroskeptic

    Re: the End of Europe as We Know It, I’ve written a response to that here:

    Basically, the protestors are trying to keep Europe as we know it, but I don’t think they’ll succeed, so Europe (at any rate outside Germany and Scandinavia) is going to be rather different in future.


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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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