Around the Web – January 31st, 2011

By Razib Khan | January 31, 2011 12:16 am

The first month of 2011 is almost over….

Exiled Islamist Leader Returns to Tunisia. “…while Ennahdha was branded an Islamic terrorist group by Ben Ali, it is considered moderate by scholars.” I remember talking to a gay friend after 9/11 about Islam, and he began to repeat the pablum about how most Muslims were moderate and tolerant. I had to disabuse him of the notion that they would be as tolerant of him as the Christians at the local Congregationalist church. One can be moderate, but if the scale is set at one end of the broader distribution, that moderation can be quite extreme from the vantage point of an outsider. So a recent survey of British Muslims found that 0 out of 500 would accede to the position that homosexuality was morally acceptable. Certainly within the set of 500 there were many moderates on the issue, but the center of the distribution would probably not be what we’d consider “gay-friendly” (it might in fact be tolerance in a more pre-modern sense, where the majority suffers that the minority may exist, so long as they do not become undue burdens or flout public mores).

Selection is random. I don’t know if this is what the general population would term “random,” but it is an important point insofar as even if natural selection can be conceived as a deterministic process when you expand the parameters of population size and time to infinite, it still operates in a stochastic cauldron. That beings said, another point worth remembering is that selection is also stochastic insofar as it may operate over a set of equally fit adaptive peaks, and there’s no rhyme or reason to which peak selection may eventually drive the population toward (or, consider different genetic architectures which would lead to the same phenotypic value for a quantitative trait).

A Golden Age of Foreign Films, Mostly Unseen. I don’t know if this is relevant, but from what I have heard the “long tail” has not really panned out.

Chinese Man Who Bragged of Privilege Gets Six Years. I guess six years is better than nothing. I recall hearing about this incident last spring, so I’ve kept an eye out for the resolution.

Jebel Faya and early-stage reduction. Obviously I think this sort of thing needs to be looked at with many disciplinary lenses, but it is nice when the fossil people can speak clearly, as John always does.

The Prize. Noah Millman on Egypt.

Educational attainment and fecundity in the US. Female baby boomers in the 2000s who had no high school education had more than three children on average. Those with a doctorate had 1.4.

Use Family SNP Data to Phase Your Own Genome. The phasing Java app actually crashed on my computer. I’m sure more people will get into this as 23andMe V3 results trickle in.

Cluster Sequencing with Oxford Nanopore’s GridION System. These pieces about relatively “blue sky” sequencing tech make me want to look at articles from 2005.

Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above. The article ignores the elephant in the room: that Americans do not treat African ancestry like they treat Asian (or Amerindian) ancestry. Someone with a black American parent may identify as mixed race, but there is a great deal of social pressure and expectation, such that they are de facto viewed as black. Someone with a Chinese parent and a white parent has a somewhat different set of expectations, and more genuine realizable flexibility about their multiracial heritage.

Social Security and Welfare Benefits Going Paperless. Change happens with us barely noting in many cases.

Infants Ascribe Social Dominance to Larger Individuals. I know people underestimate infants, but really, does anyone think they’d be that dumb?

Genetic Variation among Major Human Geographic Groups Supports a Peculiar Evolutionary Trend in PAX9. Alas, the SNP isn’t typed by 23andMe.

A Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Scans Identifies IL18RAP, PTPN2, TAGAP, and PUS10 As Shared Risk Loci for Crohn’s Disease and Celiac Disease. Always with Crohn’s disease!

Nice map showing population distribution in 3-D for the USA.

Some thoughts on the Dutch-Afrikaner connections. Interesting, Afrikaners tend not to emigrate to the Netherlands.

Jumbo Shrimps: Why Mega-Mammals Still Looked Puny Next to the Biggest Dinosaurs. Contingency?

There is no labor shortage.

MORE ABOUT: Daily Data Dump

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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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