Are Twin Studies “Pretty Much Useless”? One interesting, but unsurprising, aspect of the response to execrable Brian Palmer piece is that several of us in the blogosphere pointed out pretty much the same set of well known findings to refute his weird charges. This isn’t rocket science.
Romney vs. Perry: It’s personal. ‘“I think he had a few exasperating experiences with Perry, and he’s not alone in that,” said one source close to Romney. “I think Mitt thinks Perry is not that bright.”’
Earliest Art in the Americas: Ice Age Image of Mammoth or Mastodon Found in Florida. Claims that the a rendering of a elephant-like creature in Florida is at least ~13,000 years old because “this is the date for the last appearance of these animals in eastern North America.” If this is based on fossils probably you can fudge that a little lower, since first and last fossils tend to be a subset of the real interval of time.
The Next Bubble: Farmland. Did not know: “And large-scale farmland bubbles are quite rare: There was only one in the United States in the entire 20th century, during the great population scare of the 1970s.”
Borderless Economy, Jobless Prosperity. The real issue is whether the nation-state matters in any deep way as anything more than an organizational convenience and semantic convention. I would say it does. Many globalists would disagree.
Born to be a slave in Niger. This a story from 2005, but from what I gather nothing has really changed in much of the Sahel since then. Slavery is particularly pernicious in Mauritania, where the racialized aspect is pretty straightforward.
This Doctor Does What to 6-Year-Old Girls’ Clitorises? This reminds me of the possibly apocryphal story of a pediatrician being attacked in England because a really stupid outraged person was opposed to pedophilia. Here’s a sentence for the ages: ” Because much as Savage might like it to be, the world is not yet a place where most little girls can have a clitoris that looks like a penis and feel entirely at ease.” I think the intersex have been subject to such misrepresentation historically that advocates for this group should really focus on being true to the facts and not appealing to emotions.
Caring About Strangers. I recall years ago that the Christian Rock group Jars of Clay collaborated on a concert with liberal Hollywood-based organizations to raise consciousness about religious intolerance and persecution in China. Jars of Clay naturally was focused on the Protestant “House Churches,” while Hollywood was focused on Tibetan Buddhists. Both instances of persecution were, and are, real, but which one you focus on is obviously determined by your own world-view and sympathies.
Sexual urges overcome cultural taboo. So it turns out that the female children of immigrants from conservative societies (South Asian and Islamic) are paying for hymen restoration surgeries. The more interesting question would be if these children become sexually conservative themselves, perpetuating the life history trajectory so that their own children have to go through these sorts of reconstructions.
A Singular Kind of Eugenics. It seems “privilege” is the new hot-button for Lefties who are skeptical of assisted reproductive technologies and genetic modifications. I suspect it’s a Left-wing buzzword which is equivalent to Righties who bring up “dignity” or the “wisdom of repugnance.” Much easier than having to generate clear prose and understand the complex motives which underpin an issue. Buying really expensive smartphones and pure entertainment machines like iPads also are manifestations of privilege. So what distinguishes X from Y? Not the commonality, privilege, but perhaps the same gut intuitions which Right bioconservatives are willing to man up to, repugnance. Some privileges are repugnant (biological interventions) and some frivolous (iPad). Also, when did discourse replace discussion and privilege replace class?
Brown-eyed men perceived to be more dominant. Dienekes offers up a more banal explanation, that the disjunction between blue vs. brown-eyed males in dominance perception has to do with a correlation that’s a holdover from past population differences which are being eliminated through admixture. Plausible enough to me, excepting that I do wonder at models which presume that continental populations were ever so isolated.
Chimpanzees murder for land. In biology Malthus was right. Intrapspecific competition is the norm quite often because of reproduction up to the carrying capacity. This is why I think Brian Ferguson’s idea that war is a product of agriculture is highly naive; hunter-gatherers were up at their carrying capacity as well.
Subprime for Students – Why does so much federal money go to for-profit schools—and what happens when the system crashes? Steve Eisman, a Cassandra of the subprime meltdown in real estate, is now focused on the student loan & grant racket in the for-profit education industry. I have nothing against competition forcing the relatively static higher education complex to evolve. In fact I favor it. But with massive government subsidies with minimal oversight being directed toward higher education the market is producing entities which emerge not to provide a genuine service to potential students, but to capture as much of the cash flow from the feds as possible. Barring elimination of government subsidies more aggressive oversight seems the only avenue of correcting the problems in this sector.
Is Google Docs Destined To Be a Revolutionary or Footnote?. First, Google Docs lacks some of the power for presentations which desktop office packages have. Second, the flakiness of internet connections means that many people won’t use it for ‘mission critical’ tasks yet. But I assume that over the next ten years you will start to see a shift from desktop applications to web applications even in office productivity software.
Upbeat Signs Revive Consumers’ Mood for Spending. I remember reading as a kid in the early 90s about how the recession of the time was going to result in a major shift in American habits and values. That didn’t pan out, the latter half the decade saw the emergence of irrational exuberance which surpassed the 1980s. But this recession/depression has been quantitatively much deeper, so perhaps something will stick. For one, it seems that we’ve lost a lot of wealth and some of the current upsurge in spending is pent up demand for goods & services which we can put off only for so long.
Today’s Social Liberal Is Tomorrow’s Social Conservative. Looking at the GSS I’ve found that conservatives of all ages tend to agree when it comes to issues like homosexuality, while liberals exhibit a split between old & young. Don’t know whether this is transitory, or a general feature of social change in the United States.
Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!
This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!