Around the Web – January 10th, 2011

By Razib Khan | January 10, 2011 5:43 am

Denisovans did not have red hair. John Hawks pokes around the Denisovan genome. Interesting that he notes that the coverage of the Denisovans is very good in comparison to the Neandertals.

I Won’t Hug This File — I Won’t Even Call It My Friend. A weird screed against the internet and free content, posted on the internet for free (observed by David Dobbs).

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium. The main skepticism I have about these sorts of pronouncements is that they underestimate the diversity and pluralism of the web medium. Some outfits are bottom-up, others are top-down. Some websites solicit a lot of feedback, others do not. Some blogs post lots of short posts and observations, others post extended essays. I don’t see the point of triumphalism or defeatism. In the aggregate the pie is growing, though unfortunately in this bout of creative destruction many people are losing their livelihoods during the transition.

Americans: not as religious as they think they are. Basically Americans claim to allocate twice as much time to religion as they really do. This is an old and robust finding.

Vietnam Confronts Economic Quagmire. Inflation and mismanagement. That being said, Vietnam is on the balance a success story. Communism can only destroy so much human capital.

Is Law School a Losing Game? This is a long piece in The New York Times, which may reflect a cultural inflection point. The non-elite law school scam has been well known for years in the blogosphere, but it might start finally pushing more aggressively into the mainstream media. But law school is just the canary in the coal mine; the current inflation in higher education is not sustainable.

On the Perception of Religious Group Membership from Faces. He’s got Mormon face!

Why you CAN have your $1000 genome – so long as you learn what to do with it. This seems about right. More than $1000 would reflect the bundling of various services. If you want the raw sequence data, and are willing to put your own labor hours into it, you can get it for a lower sticker price.

Hard Core. A woman explains hardcore pornography and men. It’s all so easy.

Facebook hype will fade. I don’t know if this is right…my main contention is that the rate of growth is going to slow down. I am not expecting an AOL-esque collapse of Facebook, but I wouldn’t be that surprised. I’m not sure that it is that critical.

Announcing The Open Lab Finalists! Lots of familiar faces. Mad props to Jason Goldman for cranking through all that.

Why Restaurants Want Fewer Customers. Most of the time expensive meals are probably signalling, especially on the high end margin, but I have to say that last week I had an expensive meal which was well worth it in substantive terms.

Study Linking Vaccine to Autism Was Fraud, Journal Reports. What are the consequences? I haven’t followed this closely, but it seems that Andrew Wakefield’s fraud was motivated by financial incentives. Science needs to crack down on this behavior harshly.

Southern Sudanese, in a Jubilant Mood, Begin to Vote on Secession. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt we’ll see this end well. South Sudan has lots of oil, a great deal of ethnic diversity, and, very little human capital. That hasn’t been a good combination in other regions of Africa. I support independence because it seems cruel to allow the north to rape the south, metaphorically and sometimes literally, indefinitely. On the other hand, I do wonder if the British did a disservice to the long term Benthamite project of maximal utility by preventing the spread of Islam amongst the southern tribesmen, and so blocking their assimilation into the broader Afro-Arab Muslim culture of the nation.

Penis injections lead to 1.5 hour erections, scientists regret not letting the subjects just watch porn. S. M. is back.

Thought of the day. “Also the assassin of the Governor belong to the Barelvi sect, which is the more “liberal” and “Sufiesque” Sunni sect of Pakistan.” I’ve long said that most Muslim “moderates” are really equivalent to conservative American Protestants. There are some religious liberals in Islam, but they are marginal, and more often than not private mystics. While Christian Identity is ~0.1% of Christians, the Muslim equivalent is 1-10% of the population in some nations (such as Pakistan). Sam Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order is a book that good liberals love to hate (often without reading it), but it’s ultimate message was to take cultural differences seriously, and learn to live in a multipolar world where everyone is not on the same page on all values.

Facebook Wins Relatively Few Friends in Japan. I recall reading the iPhone isn’t big in Japan either. Not enough features.

MORE ABOUT: Daily Data Dump

Comments (9)

  1. Thanks for the link. I should have known better than to open the Hard Core link in a room full of students.

  2. SV

    The law school article is of interest to me. I am a recent J.D. graduate (May 2010), and I am posting using my law school email address, so I think Razib should be able determine where I went to school. I had a few thoughts in relation to that article:

    1) Big Law is a big deal, but many of my classmates were averse to that idea from the start. It would be misleading to think that we were all entering to play the Big Law lottery. A lot of people were interested in corporate positions, government jobs, small or mid-sized firms, etc.

    2) For recent graduates like me, we entered law school before major changes in the economy and the legal job market. A job market that was still quite good for the people graduating as I entered my law school quickly soured during my time there. I would be careful about recommending a J.D. to anyone currently.

    3) I am one of the rare few with no debt currently; I could have gone to a higher ranked school and been in significant debt. Would that have increased my job prospects enough to be worthwhile? I am not sure and, of course, my decision was made years ago. Prospects seem to be getting better for me right now, but I don’t know enough to discern the broader trends.

  3. “I do wonder if the British did a disservice to the long term Benthamite project of maximal utility by preventing the spread of Islam amongst the southern tribesmen”

    A couple of observations.

    1. The conflict of Sudan needs to seen in the context of a continent-wide bloody Sahel war. Nigeria is experiencing the same thing, and the current succession conflict in Cote d’Ivoire is likewise along the same lines. There is a Northern Muslim-Southern Christian Animist cultural line all across the Sahel and as the Sahara expands, the Muslim pressure to press South increases and conflict, often with a genocidal tinge, ensues. South Sudan, by recognizing the genuine cultural divide may at least allow the locals the power of the state and the international weight accorded sovereignty to defend their turf and their lives with, rather than forcing them to rely on a power broker who is biased against them in these struggles.

    2. The persistence of the Muslim-Christian/animist divide all the way across the continent, in places under both French and British (and intermittently Italian) colonial rule, suggests that British colonial policy probably had little to do with the survival of these cultural divides that run very deep and run along ethnic lines as well as religious ones. The boundaries between Muslim and non-Muslim have been fairly stable since at least the Middle Ages, and the ethnic divide has continued even through the transition of a large share of the Southerners to Christianity, a process that continues unabated as we speak. Indeed, population genetics and linguistic dividing lines suggest that this cultural divide pre-dates both Islam and Christianity and dates to at least the early Neolithic, if not earlier.

    The colonial powers should be faulted for drawing boundaries that fail to reflect the genuine cultural divides (despite their earnest efforts to draw such lines in Europe at the time that the colonial powers were drawing lines in Africa and elsewhere), and for failing to establish a sufficiently deep corps of locals to perpetuate their political and economic system, forces that together left their former colonies ungovernable, rather than for not encouraging one colonial faction to be ungulfed culturally by another.

  4. The boundaries between Muslim and non-Muslim have been fairly stable since at least the Middle Ages

    no, they do not at all. no interest in getting into a deep discussion, i’m no expert obviously on this, but

    – many long standing “muslim” areas, such as senegal, were only thinly islamicized at elite levels as late as the 19th century.

    – islam has pushed south into the “forest” zone, but faced resistance from christianity, brought by the missionaries. the yoruba for example have a large muslim minority, along with christians, and a small but non-trivial animist rump

    – this sort of generalization needs to be understood in light of international colonial trends. it is not just islam in west and central africa, colonial powers and international support to marginal and minority groups in northeast india and in the southeast asian uplands also interrupted the historical process of hinduization and buddhaization.

  5. Re: the Denisovans. It’s interesting that they seem to lack loss of function alleles at MCR1. So the pattern that exists today is echoed in the past. Europeans (first as Neanderthals, then later as AMH) develop multiple MCR1 variants. Asians (first as Denesovans, then later as AMH) tend not to. Interesting.

    Razib, I tried and utterly failed in my google research attempts to find any mention of the specific snp associated with “Tawny” hair in Australians/Papuans. Is this a known snp? I’d love to see what the Denesovans carry at this loci.

  6. no one knows. perhaps in the next 10 years? any geneticists live around alice springs?

  7. Thanks, Razib. At least that means I can stop trying to find it. And all you Alice Springs geneticists, get on that. Anthro geeks want to know.

  8. I don’t know how important Islam would be in Sudan. Darfur is mostly Muslim, but that didn’t help.

    This guy guest-posting at the Monkey Cage says Africa doesn’t actually have much of a separatist problem from colonial borders.

  9. Douglas Knight

    That Wired article had too memorable a headline. A cursory search suggests that the Japanese bought 35 million phones last year, including 6 million smartphones, including 4 million iphones.


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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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