Around the web – 11/26/2011

By Razib Khan | November 26, 2011 1:08 am

I’ve gotten way behind on my RSS…though I caught up a bit over Thanksgiving.

West Hunter. Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending’s blog.

Eurasian Sensation. Liberal Eurasian Australian blogger.

Matt Yglesias moved to Slate. This means that his salary is coming in large part from a firm which he has excoriated in the past. (Slate is owned by The Washington Post Company)

Rod Dreher is now at The American Conservative.

Sorry, Strivers: Talent Matters. “Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics.” I think it is possible to earn a Ph.D. in physics with an average I.Q., but only from institutions like Razib-Khan’s-Internet-University, where you pay me $100 for me to send you a printout which purports to give you a Ph.D. in physics. In fact, if someone who is a Ph.D. in physics can send me their G.R.E. scores where they score less than a 550 on the mathematics section, and are willing to go public with this fact (so we can check their scholarly achievements and validate the quality of the institution), I will shell out $250 to this individual. Let’s set the date of expiration for 12/26, so I can budget this expense.

Is Newt Gingrich as smart as he thinks? He’s obviously not dumb like Rick Perry, or ignorant like Herman Cain. But I think Newt is a “high verbal” type who can impress the dull more than actually get anything done. I believe that Mitt Romney is somewhat higher in I.Q., but more critically he probably has a better practical skill set. Newt is not one known for contingency and coherency, and that’s a problem.

The Curious Case of Freida Pinto. Frieda Pinto is famous internationally, but obscure in India. Part of this is the inordinate attention paid to Slumdog Millionaire in the West, but part of it is that she’s probably too conventionally Indian looking to really stand out in Bollywood (too dark skinned), but is conventionally Indian looking enough in the West to be ‘exotic’ (just dark skinned enough to obviously be non-white).

Atheists launch campaign to get unbelievers to ‘come out’. Just so you know, I’m an atheist.

In Quiet Part of Russia, Putin’s Party Loses Steam. Unless you’re willing to go “North Korea,” economic growth matters to any ruling class.

Talk cancelled. In the long run it doesn’t matter.

A Blow to Pinstripe Aspirations. My first thought is “fuck them.” Second thought, start a company if you’re that smart! If you’re not really that smart, but can fake it, go work for a company that makes something or produces a genuine service.

Ancient sect fights to keep culture alive in U.S. Mandaeans don’t have critical mass. Excessive fixation on endogamy does not work unless you are willing to engage in self-segregation like the Hasidic Jews do.

Worth remembering (when comparing ‘the US’ to ‘Europe’). A nice post illustrating the data which supports one of my pet peeves: comparing totally different administrative units in qualitative terms on the same quantitative metrics.

Man eats world’s hottest pepper; vomits, hallucinates, and is generally laid low.

‘My daughter deserved to die for falling in love’. For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. ‘If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,’ he said with no trace of remorse. Stories like this are tragic, but unless the West wants to engage in neocolonialism it has to accept that these are the dominant views in some parts of the world, and will be until economic and social development changes them. Such human interest pieces should continue to be written to remind us what we may become in the process of barbarization and cultural devolution, but it is unlikely that they will affect any great change. Millions of young women will live under a reign of tyranny for several generations, and there is nothing we can do to change this in the cases of most (I suspect the same system is what is driving men to have sex with men in the Muslim world).

The White Stuff. I still like Three Colors: Red, but then Irene Jacob was more striking at her peak than Julie Delpy or Juliette Binoche.

‘Meow’trage at Algonquin. Hotel cat banned from lobby!

That rotting smell is college sports.

Ernest Borgnine. He’s still alive! Was born in 1917.

Libyan Fighters Catch Qaddafi’s Last Fugitive Son. How they treat him will be the measure of the ‘nation.’

The Duggars Demonstrate Life History Trade-Offs Around Quality Versus Quantity of Offspring.

As ultra-Orthodox flex muscle, Israel feminists see a backsliding. Numbers are at issue. The Ultra-Orthodox are now a modest minority, not a marginal one. That being said, they’re subsidized by the rest of society. Would they persist if they were fully economically integrated and active?

  • Darkseid

    i’ve really been missing those RSS updates, Razib. Jason’s been holdin’ it down pretty well, though;)
    Brian Green’s new PBS special has been airing if anyone’s interested:
    it’s got 4 parts.

  • syon

    Razib Khan:”Indian looking to really stand out in Bollywood (too dark skinned), but is conventionally Indian looking enough in the West to be ‘exotic’ (just dark skinned enough to obviously be non-white).”

    Seriously, Pinto’s too dark-skinned for Bollywood?I guess that that says something about their standards for for what constitutes a fair complexion. Frankly, I would classify her as lighter than average for South Asians.

  • Evan

    “Such human interest pieces should continue to be written to remind us what we may become in the process of barbarization and cultural devolution, but it is unlikely that they will affect any great change.”

    I think people tend to consider patriarchal violence as what actually constitutes “barbarization and cultural devolution”, but I wonder if it is merely associated with it as a response to de-civilizing pressures.

    The foundation of civilization seems to be something like the defense of agricultural territory of individuals in exchange for those individuals giving up their sovereignty. An individual man submits to the state, authorities, gang, etc.

    In this “contract” the individual man is put at reproductive risk by the female’s instincts to mate with the strongest male in her environment, and a man who has submitted, the civilized man, is rejected so she can find the man causing other men to submit. So a compromise therefore allowed the creation of a pseudo-natural environment within the family where the man could legally maintain dominance over the women.

    Basically civilization has been built on the compromise and pretense that men get to be “alpha males” at home and locally as husbands, so that they don’t revolt against those in positions of authority and take down civilization.

    Implicit in this compromise is a compromise of female choice as well. So civilization seems to be founded on a meta-stable “deal” in which females give up their sovereignty to their mates and their mates give up their sovereignty to the state.

    Removing this compromise, such as by liberating female choice, undermines or shatters this foundation of civilization.

    Fundamentalist Islamic violence (and other forms of patriarchal violence) seems to be an attempt to prop up civilization despite its shattered foundation.

    The necessity for these kinds of foundational compromises in order to have civilization may be ultimately due to the fact that humans are a sexual species. There does seem to be a conflict between heterosexuality and forming large social group organizations like civilizations which resemble a kind of eusocial organization. The way to still have civilization while avoiding having to make these kinds of compromises may be to evolve towards eusociality which might be enabled through things like genetic engineering and cloning in the near future.

  • Navaneeth

    @Evan, What is different in matriarchal cultures and in those that practice polyandry?

  • Evan

    I’m not sure if bona fide matriarchal societies have ever existed. I think most scholars generally believe that a strictly matriarchal society has never existed.

    I don’t know much about polyandry. I believe it has generally existed in relatively inhospitable areas such as Tibet, mountainous parts of northern India, the Himalayas, Siberia, the Arctic, etc. In more benign environments that can support large scale agricultural civilization, males compete to have access to or to control centralized agricultural surplus, and a male bias in sex ratio tends to get resolved through war, slavery, serfdom, etc. Men don’t want to share unless they have to.

  • Evan

    Civilization may not be compatible with the liberation of female choice. High social status for women may only be compatible with just two forms of human ecology:

    1) Female saturated sex ratios resulting from high male mortality due to paleolithic die-offs of males from natural hazards.

    2) Female saturated sex ratios resulting from high male mortality due to neolithic die-offs of males from artificial hazards (fights, duels, wars, etc.).

    In both cases high social status doesn’t equate to high sexual status, and seems to be an opposing force.

    Islam, Judaism and Confucianism currently seem to be the only major religions that relegate women to the low enough social status required of civilization.

    It is unclear whether high female to male ratios achieved via gender selection can let women have high social status in opposition to high sexual status, while maintaining civilization, but it does seem that civilization is not necessarily “natural” and we should expect to have to do some pretty intrusive things to maintain it. Moving towards more of a eusocial species by neutralizing sex may be one way of maintaining it into the future. Sex has already been neutralized somewhat and divorced from reproduction via birth control, non-suppression of homosexuality, etc., and tech such as genetic engineering and cloning may push us further into that direction.

  • TGGP

    As was pointed out in “The Lost History of Christianity”, the status of women under Islam was not necessarily that different from the ancient eastern variants of Christianity that were its surroundings and partial inspiration. And of course the ancient Greeks relegated women to a corner of the house. This may be a general feature of men with plows and/or herd animals.

  • Justin Giancola

    @ 1 I’ve been watching!


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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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