I am not doing daily link round ups right now because I’m not reading the web as much, but I certainly have enough material to put up one link round-up/pointer per week.
Vitamin D Deficit Doubles Risk of Stroke in Whites, but Not in Blacks, Study Finds. There has been other stuff about different healthy basal levels of micronutrients by population. This is an important one to keep an eye on, and should make us reflect on the importance of personalized medicine. A friend of mine who is a doctor observed that one reason that more well educated and higher socioeconomic status patients get better diagnoses and treatment is because they do so much leg-work and are so assertive as advocates for their own health.
Questionable Science Behind Academic Rankings. It’s long been known that academic rankings (like lists of all sorts) are 1) voodoo in terms of adding any real value beyond what you know, 2) crack in terms of profitability. US News & World Report wouldn’t even exist at this point if it wasn’t for their yearly rankings, and if the weekly folds I’m sure that their rankings could be spun-off as a profitable annual publication.
The Way the Future Blogs. Frederik Pohl’s memories. One of the things I really enjoyed about The Price of Altruism is that it gave me a wider lens on George Price the man, who I knew primarily through the recollections of W. D. Hamilton. Pohl does the same for the luminaries of the “Golden Age of Science Fiction.” I especially enjoy the stuff on Isaac Asimov.
Thoughtful Animal. A blog worth reading.
RocketMelt. It’s a browser with social networking apps integrated, like Flock. I like it better than Flock, though I don’t do enough social networking to really justify switching from Chrome, which has some extensions I use a lot.
Africa Channel reveals lost lineage for guests at launch party. Personal genomics focused on ancestry probably has two primary groups for whom there’s a real value-add: adoptees, and, those of the African Diaspora. In the article linked they’re focusing on maternal and paternal lineages, which are a tiny slice of one’s ancestry. But they offer a level of unequivocal certitude and precision which isn’t possible with an assessment of the total genome. True, uniparental lineages are only a tiny slice, but for people of the African Diaspora a small slice is better than none.
Europe Works on Possible Irish Rescue. I believe financial historians have observed that problems with national debts have usually followed in the wake of financial crises, so this is expected. Something to consider: the Republic of Ireland has a population on the order of ~1/10th that of Spain.
Facing Austerity, Britain Unveils Welfare Cuts. One issue that I can see is that there are an awful lot of non-means-tested welfare services in the United Kingdom. I don’t have too much sympathy for students who complain about rising tuition in the United Kingdom, as in some ways it seems to me a transfer of wealth from the society at large toward the middle and upper middle classes, in the aggregate. I understand the argument that education is a capital investment for the future, but there needs to be a real pricing system which reflects the underlying benefits being gained. In the United States there is clearly an education bubble driven by the fact that student loans can not be discharged in bankruptcy.
Genetics Has a Big Impact on How a Person Operates in a Social Group. This sort of research is fascinating. I assume there’s heritable variation in also sorts of personality traits. It would be interesting if different populations had different dispositions toward group social behaviors. For example, if populations which had been agriculturalists for a long time were far more amenable toward following the leader and group conformity?
Perfect applicant not indigenous enough for job. As noted by “Sandgroper” a person doesn’t even have to have Aborigine ancestry to be an Aborigine in Australia. But it seems in this case a woman who appears to be white, but does have Aborigine ancestry from her father, was rejected from a poster campaign because of the disjunction between her identity and her appearance. People can be whatever they claim to be in my book, but, there’s a serious issue with people who can pass as white blurring the differences between their experience of life and those who are clearly “visible minorities.” I personally oppose most programs aimed at ameliorating differences in outcomes between ethnic/social groups, but, so long as such programs exist they need to be implemented judiciously. A white person who has non-European ancestry and identifies with that ancestry is not equivalent to a visibly non-white person.
In Yemen, Cultural Propriety Poses a Security Challenge. Women in Yemen go about daily life veiled, and escorted by men (though this was not always so in the former South Yemen within living memory). But they also attend university. This hybrid between the modern and the pre-modern is totally new. One of the problems I have with Muslim women who assert that their religion demands that they veil their face in all sorts of public situations is that in the pre-modern context where this was demanded women did not have a public life.
New Statistical Model Moves Human Evolution Back Three Million Years. The last common ancestor of chimps and humans 8 million years BP instead of 5. We live in an awesome time, but it’s humbling that we have to deal with +/- 3 million years even in questions as central to the origin of our species as this.
AVPR1A: Music in your Genes? Familiar gene. We have fewer than 20,000 genes last I checked, but two dozen or so always pop up when we’re talking behavior genetics.
World’s oldest axe found in Australia. Interesting. Though one should be cautious about dating, period.
Gene discovery supports link between handedness and language-related disorders. And yet from what I know left-handedness has a strong aspect of cultural constraint, or lack thereof. In other words, presumably a certain proportion of people in a population have a disposition toward left-handedness, but only in certain populations does this express because of the taboos against left-handedness in many societies. Even in the United States teachers would encourage left-handed children to write with their right hand. As for me, I write right-handed, play basketball left-handed, and, can switch hit and pitch. Perhaps of some interest, I have slower reaction time when I hit left-handed, judging by the fact that I often go opposite field on that side of the plate, but generally pull hit right-handed.
The New Scandinavian Model. Swedish socialism ain’t what it used to be.
Strange Parallels: Volume 2, Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830. A difficult and dense book. But worthwhile for the thickness of fact and subtly of argument.
Why some young US workers now seek fortunes in India. If you’re in a white collar track and not protected by licensing regimes expect to hustle for the rest of your life.
Collapse Was Slow. Need to think on this more deeply, but the examples given are less complex and vertically integrated that our contemporary societies.