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Live not by lies. - Solzhenitsyn
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - Orwell
Knowledge is good. - Animal House
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February 1-7, 2005 Blog Archive
"Inmate's Rising I.Q. Score Could Mean His Death" reports the NYT:
years ago, in the case of a Virginia man named Daryl R. Atkins, the
United States Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to
execute the mentally retarded. But Mr. Atkins's recent test scores could
eliminate him from that group.
scores have shot up, a defense expert said, thanks to the mental workout
his participation in years of litigation gave him. The Supreme Court,
which did not decide whether Mr. Atkins was retarded, noted that he
scored 59 on an I.Q. test in 1998. The cutoff for retardation in
Virginia is 70.
A defense expert who retested Mr. Atkins last year found that his I.Q. was 74. In court here on Thursday, prosecutors said their expert's latest test yielded 76.
From my 2002 article "IQ Defenders Feel Vindicated by Supreme Court" on the Supreme Court's Atkins decision:
"One intelligence expert worried that we will end up executing only those killers 'too stupid to realize that they ought to flunk their IQ test.'
What does "democracy" mean to the Bush Administration? Is the Bush Administration being naively idealistic in seemingly equating the word "democracy" with sugar and spice and everything nice: not just majority rule, but also rule of law, protection of minorities, independent judiciary, federalism, human rights, settled distribution of property, in other words, the whole apparatus of civilized government.
Or is it being cynical? This broad definition of democratic allows it to declare any country's democracy glass to be half full ... or half empty.
Many of the Bush Administration's strategic concepts have come from Israel. Most famously, his recent obsession with "democracy" comes in large measure from reading Natan Sharansky's new book. Sharansky is a former housing minister of Israel, with strong ties to the settler movement. His book saying that the solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is for Palestine to become a democracy is widely seen as idealistic, but a more cynical interpretation is that Sharansky is trying to set the bar so high that Israel will never have to deal with the Palestinians and can continue their settlements in the West Bank indefinitely.
Along very much those lines, Ariel Sharon's closest advisor Dov Weisglass, who is Sharon's point man in dealing with the Bush Administration gave a fascinating interview to Ha'aretz newspaper in Israel last fall where he boasted:
"There will be no timetable to implement the settler's nightmare. I have postponed that nightmare indefinitely. Because what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns... With the proper management we succeeded in removing the issue of the political process from the agenda. And we educated the world to understand that there is no one to talk to. And we received a no-one-to-talk-to certificate. That certificate says: (1) There is no one to talk to. (2) As long as there is no one to talk to, the geographic status quo remains intact. (3) The certificate will be revoked only when this-and-this happens - when Palestine becomes Finland. (4) See you then, and shalom."
Obviously, the Palestinians aren't going to turn into Finns, anytime soon, so the West Bank settlements aren't going anywhere. Even though the Palestinians recently held a moderately fair and free election of their new leader Abbas, they are still years, decades, centuries away from Finnish standards of democracy.
Similarly, the Bush Administration can use it's "democracy" crusade to define any foreign government it dislikes as illegitimate. Jim Hoagland writes in the Washington Post:
" Years of American fumbling for a workable approach toward the hostile theocratic regime in Tehran have yielded only a single sentence as agreed Bush policy. The sentence, which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered in fancy dress to the Europeans during her current travels, comes down to this: The United States will take no action that extends legitimacy to the ayatollahs in Iran."
Iran is not a terribly democratic country, but it's dramatically more democratic than many others that the Bush Administration is copacetic with, such as China. But that's not good enough for the Bush Administration, conveniently enough.
Bowl Prediction: Everybody is picking the New England dynasty, but
I'll go with Eagles 20 - Patriots 17. (Of course, Super Bowls are seldom
that close -- the two week preparation time means that usually one team
peaks around last Thursday, comes out flat on Sunday, and gets killed.)
Everybody is talking about New England quarterback Tom Brady's great
post-season record, but he was only the 9th
best passer in the league this year. In contrast, the Eagles'
Donovan McNabb finally lived up to the hype and was the 4th
best passer in the league.
Because passing takes longer to mature in the NFL than running, this means that black quarterbacks, who tend to be much better runners than white quarterbacks, can often get into the starting line-up before they'd ready if they were only passers. For example, Michael Vick is a mediocre passer right now (21st in the NFL), but, because he might be the greatest all-around athlete in the world, he's effective overall because he ran for 902 yards. One interesting question is whether black quarterbacks who start off running a lot before they become good throwers will enjoy as long careers as less adventuresome quarterbacks do. The Falcons recently gave Vick the biggest contract in football, but the risk is that they are hoping he gets a lot better at throwing, and stay good at it over his 10 year contract, because over time, he's going to get a lot worse at running as he ages.
The WSJ Editorial Board endorses the foreign policy of The Clash:
"The message of Bush's foreign policy: No more Somozas," applauds the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial. Who would have thought that the late Joe Strummer, lyricist of The Clash's bloated 1981 Sandinista! triple album, would be reincarnated, and so quickly, as an editorialist for the WSJ, of all places. (Or as a Bush speechwriter, for that matter?)
Although the WSJ used to be the scourge of Jimmy Carter's betray-our-allies foreign policy that disastrously undermined Somoza in Nicaragua and the Shah in Iran, it has now signed on to Strummer's endorsement of Jimmy Carterism, as enunciated in The Clash's song Washington Bullets, which is, in effect, the title song of Sandinista!:
For the very first time ever,
I loved Joe, but I would no more have voted for him than I would have voted for Jimmy Carter. But I guess that means I'm not a real conservative anymore, according to the WSJ.
A surprisingly non-rabid article about Francis Galton in The New Yorker.
"And the Winner Is..." -- My movie column in the Feb. 28th American Conservative reviews the Best Picture race. It is available to electronic subscribers. An excerpt:
year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture comprise one of the weaker slates
in memory, yet an enormous audience will no doubt tune in February 27 to
watch the Academy Awards.
first scientific challenge to academia's traditional assumption that men
were smarter than women came in 1912 when pioneering IQ test researcher
Cyril Burt announced they scored equally -- on average. Yet, as Summers
noted, men are more variable, so they are more numerous among the
extremely intelligent, such as Harvard professors and Nobel Prize
winners (40 of whom have taught at Harvard).
Our man in Baghdad can't even even beat the Communist Party among Iraqi-American voters! The AP reports:
Shiite coalition endorsed by clerics won most of the absentee ballots
cast by Iraqis living abroad, although the main Kurdish party had a
strong showing, according to completed results released Friday. The
list led by U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi came in a distant
third, despite expectations that the former exile leader — who lived
for years in Great Britain — would do well among voters abroad.
the United States, where more than 24,000 Iraqis cast ballots, the
Alliance was strongest with over 31 percent, while Allawi's list came in
sixth with around four percent — coming not only behind the Kurds but
also behind two tiny Assyrian Christian parties and a communist-led
party. [That's pathetic.]
Was the Iraq election a massive defeat for the United States? That lots of Iraqis showed up to vote has been spun endlessly as a huge victory for America, but it's starting to sink in that most of them showed up either to vote against our hand-picked secularist collaborator Allawi or for Muslim fundamentalists, or both. Any of those reasons are a repudiation of America. The New York Times reports:
A second round of preliminary election returns released today by Iraqi authorities showed that 67 percent of the 3.3 million votes counted so far from Sunday's election went to an alliance of Shiite parties dominated by religious groups with strong links to Iran. Only 18 percent went to a group led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who favors strong ties to the United States.
Been down so long it looks like up to me: Generally speaking, getting our butts kicked in an election is considered a defeat, but I guess we've gotten so used to catastrophe in Iraq that losing looks like winning to us by now.
Pinker on Summers-Hopkins in TNR: cognitive science superstar Steven Pinker, who was recruited away from MIT to Harvard shortly after Nancy Hopkins' feminist putsch, writes in the The New Republic (not online; excerpt via American Scene):
What are we to make of the breakdown of standards of intellectual discourse in this affair -- the statistical innumeracy, the confusion of fairness with sameness, the refusal to glance at the scientific literature? It is not a disease of tenured radicals; comparable lapses can be found among the political right (just look at its treatment of evolution). Instead, we may be seeing the operation of a fascinating bit of human psychology.
Back in 2000, John Entine published Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About, a title that seemed like a clever idea at the time: obviously, American intellectuals aren't in favor of taboos on expression, so this will encourage the book to be widely discussed. Right? Instead, the intellectual community took one look at the title and dropped the book like it had cooties.
Question: Has anybody seen a television ad campaign saying something like "Prejudice is not innate"? If you have, please let me know who is sponsoring it.
"Free to Dance in Iraq" exults Charles Krauthammer over the Iraqi election:
Why weren't Iraqis dancing in the streets on the day Saddam Hussein fell, critics have asked sneeringly... Nearly 22 months later, Iraqis seemed convinced that there would indeed be a new day. And that is when the dancing started -- voters dancing and singing and celebrating, thrusting into the air their ink-stained fingers, symbol of their initiation into democracy.
Well, they better dance while they can, because in Ayatollah Sistani's Iraq they will only be able to hear (according to Sistani.org) "music which is not fit for diversion and play."
Look, Chuck, what the Shi'ites were celebrating was not the process of democracy, but their side's victory. The Bush Administration kept the results covered up for four days so the President could get through his State of the Union address before it dawned on the American public that we had just bought, at the cost of over 12,000 American casualties and counting, the election of a fundamentalist Ayatollah's slate!
I've said it before, but I have to keep it saying it again. Even more than most people, what Muslims want is not so much freedom for all as domination for themselves. Cruel history has taught them that the only way to avoid the bite of the whip is to crack the whip themselves. The Grand Ayatollah is perfectly happy to use an election now to gain power, just as his fellow Shiite ayatollah, Khomeini (remember him?), was happy to hold elections throughout the 1980s next door in Sistani's native Iran, as long as his boys could win the elections, which they did for quite some time.
Fukuyama Responds to Krauthammer: The Israelization of American Foreign Policy. You may recall that prominent neocon Francis "End of History" Fukuyama jumped ship awhile ago and criticized Charles Krauthammer in The National Interest for his lack of realism about the Iraq War. Krauthammer responded, predictably, by playing the anti-Semitism card. Here is part of Fukuyama's rebuttal:
"Krauthammer says I have a "novel way of Judaizing neoconservatism", and that my argument is a more "implicit and subtle" version of things said by Pat Buchanan and Mahathir Mohamad. Since he thinks the latter two are anti-Semites, he is clearly implying that I am one as well. If he really thinks this is so, he should say that openly."
A little late, perhaps, Francis? "First they came for Pat Buchanan, but I was not Pat Buchanan, so I said nothing. Then they came ...". But better late than never. Fukuyama continues:
Well said. America's foreign policy blunders of the last 30 months have less to do with the fact that so many highly influential people in Washington and New York, like Krauthammer, think about Israel and its welfare all the time, as to the fact that it has become extremely dangerous to one's career to point out that they do. As Gene Expression blogged:
And I'm sorry, but ethnicity will and should legitimately be a topic brought up in the ensuing debate. Consider an analogy. Suppose that Wolfowitz, Perle, Shulsky, Feith, Ledeen, and all the rest were South Asian Americans rather than Jewish Americans and had names like Ramachandran, Patel, and Choudhury. Again they'd be selected from a highly educated group that was less than 2% of society (there are about 2 to 3 million South Asian Americans, about 1/2 to 1/3 the number of American Jews depending on how you count).
What we need, now more than ever, is free discussion. Closed discussion helped get us into Iraq.
Reactions to the State of the Union Address: A reader writes:
trawling through the reactions to the SOTU, it occurred to me that Bush
has made clear his agenda: That he himself replace FDR and FDR's welfare
state. That welfare state will be as large or larger and more intrusive
than ever, BUT, the rich guys will be in on the take. Thus the
Republican party will displace the Democratic party. So, the speech's
overt intent is for Republican party elite to displace the old
left-liberal elite, a much better deal for rich people, with assorted
bribes to the Unwashed Masses to consent to a somewhat worse deal, BUT
the covert intent (what the Germans call the schwerpunkt, 'the main
thrust of the battle') is actually the elimination of the CONSERVATIVES,
that is, the sort of people (actually) in favor of a constitutional
republic and smaller government, not to mention American nationalism....
Larry Auster writes on his website:
Since the theme of Bush’s leadership is supposedly the spread of freedom and democracy abroad, what are we to make of the hallmarks of the pro-Bush politics in this country, coming from both the elites and the non-elites: the cheerleading, the extravagant adoration, the worship of the great leader, the constant thanks to God for the great leader, the admiration for his deep wisdom, his staunch courage, his transcendent ability to weather all storms, the personal expressions of bliss whenever he’s successful, and the unending stream of “conservative” opinion columns telling us over and over how great Bush is doing and how pathetic his opponents are? Does this sound like the way a democratic and republican people talk about their elected leader? Or does it sound instead like a certain 20th century European political movement not associated with democracy at all, but with its rejection?...
Good year for conservative films: Jim Hubbard's American Film Renaissance organization, which puts on the conservative American Film Fest, collected the Top 10 lists of three dozen conservative critics. Here's their Top 5. 2004 wasn't a very good year overall for movies overall, but a respectable one for conservative-leaning films.
The Passion of the Christ
Young Things, Stephen Fry's overlooked but sprightly version of
Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. And Hero
was magnificent and conservative, although not my kind of
Surprise! Larry Summers pays reparations: The NYT reports:
Moving to counter widespread criticism of his comments last month on women's science capabilities, the president of Harvard University announced initiatives yesterday to improve the status of women on the faculty, including a commitment to create a senior administrative position to strengthen recruiting.
My article on the Summers brouhaha should appear in the February 28th American Conservative. It puts the spat in a much larger perspective than has previously been advanced.
Our $200 Billion Ayatollah: Having expended 1,400 American lives and 200 billion clams to replace Saddam Hussein with the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, I figure it it behooves us to learn more about our new man in Baghdad. So, I turned once again to the indispensable Sistani.Org website, where under his "Biography" I found this paragraph, to pick one largely at random:
"His Scientific Genius :
Well, I'm feeling better already. Obviously, Sistani comes from a cultural tradition very similar to our own, with an identical conception of science, a culture which we shall no trouble understanding.
Seriously, Sistani is, by all accounts, the most sensible mullah in Iraq, but why are we celebrating our handing Iraq over to a Muslim fundamentalist? I thought this whole War on Terror was intended to weaken Muslim fundamentalists, not give them a few trillion dollars worth of oil reserves to play with.
Hey, I'm glad we held an election and the Grand Ayatollah won. By Iraqi standards, such as they are, he sounds like George Washington. So, can we leave now?
Who won in Iraq? In answer to my question, a reader sends this picture of Iraqi voters celebrating the presumed winner, and comments:
The guys who look like the Mullahs in Iran won. And that fact is why the
"winners" aren't being shown on American TV. We won't want to
give the "American people" the wrong idea, for example, that
we wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq
to install in power Mullahs who hate our guts and reject every aspect of
As far as Medieval Shi'ite Ayatollahs go, Sistani seems like a pretty open-minded guy. For example, his Sistani.org website offers his decrees in handy question and answer form:
My wife has said the phrase “Amin” in her prayer for years. Recently she discovered that saying this invalidates the prayer. Does she have to make up all of these incorrect prayers due to the fact that she said “Amino”?
See? He's practically an ACLU member.
My favorite kind! I guess Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" must be big in Baghdad.
Is playing a chess allowed?
Is having an orgy permissible under the Qur’an?
But, apparently not quite as unlawful as playing a chess.
Are shaking of hands with girls allowed?
Handshaking can lead to playing a chess, you know.
What is the Islamic viewpoint on adoption?
Diamond's Collapse: A reader writes:
flipped through "Guns Germs and Steel" earlier today and
noticed that Diamond (correctly) refers to the Greenland settlement as a
"tiny marginal colony." Little could the Iceland-Greenlanders
have known that their tiny marginal colony in fact foretold the end of
civilization, according to the New and Improved Diamond.
of the most beloved landscapes in the world, Tuscany, the Cotswolds, the
Loire Valley, and so forth, are largely deforested. People love trees,
but with the exception of specially adapted cultures like the Yanomamo
and the Andamanese, they don't much like forests, which most people find
dark and depressing. Actually, what humans really like are
grasslands at the edge of forests: that's what the typical American golf
course provides, and look how much money is spent on them.
Question: Best book on statistics for beginner? A reader writes:
looking for a good book on Statistics that can
I received a couple of quick votes for Larry Gonick's Cartoon Guide to Statistics.
And a reader who is much smarter than me sent this list:
For self learning you need to have good books w/ worked examples and answers to even problems (at least) in the back of the book so that you can check yourself. My recommendations are made with this in mind.
I've read all of the following books pretty much cover to cover, so I'm not recommending blind (w/ the exception of Jun Shao which I keep around for reference purposes). With that in mind:
1) If he doesn't know probability, start with Pitman.
He should also know linear algebra to the level of Strang.
2) If he already knows probability, I like Degroot and Schervish.
Supplement with Schaum's if more practice is needed w/ specific problems.
This will get him to intermediate level. At this point he needs to figure out where he wants to go.
A) Computational statistics and data mining:
and *DEFINITELY* Venables and Ripley (which he can go through with R).
Depending on whether he's feeling his oats, he can also go for Hastie and Tibshirani, but it is somewhat opaque at times (though worth going through).
I also strongly recommend going through the various tutorials on the R project site. A lot of that stuff has not been put into book form but is very useful.
B) Stochastic processes, filtering, and time series - I like Papoulis
and then Oksendal:
C) Measure theory and theorem/proof stuff - go w/ Jun Shao. My background in this area is not as strong.
Well, we all have our weaknesses. Personally, I think I'll stick to the Cartoon Guide, myself.
the way, who won the Iraq election? I know we aren't
supposed to worry about such petty details and instead just perpetually
glory in the wonderfulness of there simply being an Iraq election, but
it's now been about 84 hours since the polls closed over there, and I'm
just getting curious about who actually, you know, won.
" A Win-Win Solution to Indian Team Name Disputes" - A reader responds:
thought I had read everything you had written but this one surprised me.
It was too good to keep hidden away wherever you had it so thanks for
bringing it out.
The Dirt Gap: As you know, I've pointed out that the famous red state - blue state voting gap correlates closely with the baby gap (the 19 states with the highest white total fertility voted for Bush), the marriage gap (the 25 states with the highest rate of youngish white women being married voted for Bush), and the housing inflation gap (the 26 states with the least growth in home prices from 1980 to 2004 voted for Bush).
Now, in my article "A Tale of Two States: America's future is either Texas or California," in the Feb. 14th issue of The American Conservative, now available at newsstands, I point out an even more fundamental cause of these three gaps: The Dirt Gap. Briefly, most Red State metropolises are surrounded by almost 360 degrees of dirt, while most Blue State metropolises are partially bordered by water.
restrained land price growth in Texas reflects a bedrock geographic
reality about the metropolises of Texas, and of red states as a whole.
Red state cities simply have more land available for suburban and
exurban expansion because most of them are inland and thus not hemmed in
by water, unlike the typical blue state city, which is on an ocean or a
I fear, though, that despite the explanatory power of the Dirt Gap, the concept will not be widely discussed. The problem is that it's too morally neutral. What people want to hear are explanations for why they are morally superior to their enemies.
Suggestion: A reader writes:
Why don't we ink stain people's fingers here on election day? We have really shoddy electioneering safe-guards over here. I suspect the Dems engage in significant voter fraud in basket-case areas. A simple thing like ink stains could go a long way, I suspect.
It would certainly discourage voting by illegal aliens.
More of my old articles: Readers seem to like my old articles when I dig them up and put them in a presentable format. So, here are a random sample from the first half of 2001. A few might be out of date, but most of my topics are of the more things change, the more they stay the same variety:
So you want to be a public school teacher? To teach in a California public school, you have to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test. Somebody showed me a book of CBEST practice tests and while thumbing through the reading comprehension section, I was struck by how incomprehensible the reading samples were. For instance:
There is an importance of learning communication and meaning in language... Communication in the classroom is vital. The teacher should use communication to help students develop the capacity to make their private responses become public responses.
The clarity of other passages on the exam could be enhanced by recasting them as, say, dialogue spoken by Shaggy on Scooby-doo. For example,
In view of the current emphasis on literature-based reading instruction, a greater understanding by teachers of variance in cultural, language, and story components should assist in narrowing the gap between reader and text and improve reading comprehension. Classroom teachers should begin with students' meaning and intentions about stories before moving students to the commonalities of story meaning based on common background and culture.
makes far more sense when rendered in Shaggy-speak:
You gotta dig where these stories are coming from, man! And you gotta grok where your kids heads are at.
Clearly, the point of the CBEST is to intimidate and/or bore anybody who didn't get a degree in Ed. into not trying to become a public school teacher in order to keep the supply of teachers down and their wages up. But, think of what it does to the souls of the people we entrust our children to that they had to spend their formative college years drenched in this gibberish.
More Malcolm: A reader writes:
I saw Malcolm Gladwell on NY1, the local cable station in NYC. He continued the contradictions you identified, and then went on to make the loopy assertion that criminal defendants, because of racial prejudice, should testify from behind a screen --- or not at all, and respond to questions by email.
Great idea! Malcolm, who never met two contradictory ideas he didn't like, also writes at length in Blink about how people have an innate talent for recognizing whether somebody is telling the truth or not from their facial expressions. How exactly is the jury supposed to exercise their "rapid cognition" ability via email? Hmmhmmhm ... do you think if the racial makeup of defendants was different, Malcolm would be espousing the opposite view?
Look, the reason I hammer Malcolm Gladwell and Jared Diamond so hard is because they aren't invincibly ignorant. They are even a little bit courageous. They are people who like to prance up to the precipice of the truth and then dash away. They've made themselves rich by constructing politically correct rationales for stupider people to believe.
Yuri Slezkine's The Jewish Century is compared to The Origin of Species. Noah Efron, who is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and teaches history & philosophy of science at Bar-Ilan University, writes in in the Jerusalem Report:
Still, the schematic nature of Slezkine’s analysis is an unavoidable cost of writing on such a capacious scale, and it’s a price well worth paying. The clarity of analysis is extraordinary, and the relatively simple conceptual tools Slezkine provides are unexpectedly powerful. After reading Darwin for the first
time*, Thomas Henry Huxley registered shock that so clear and simple an explanation could explain so much, and that it had been overlooked for so long. I could be Slezkine’s Huxley.
* To be precise, Huxley had read many articles and letters by his friend Darwin, but had never given much credence to Darwin's fragmentary advancement of his theory of natural selection, until Huxley read Darwin's book-length treatment in 1859, at which point he exclaimed, "How stupid of me not to have thought of that."
Race is good enough for government work: Geneticist Neil Risch, who recently moved from Stanford to UC San Francisco medical school, has done a DNA study of 3,636 people from 15 locations in the US and Taiwan.
Checking a box next to a racial/ethnic category gives several pieces of information about people - the continent where their ancestors were born, the possible color of their skin and perhaps something about their risk of different diseases. But a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine finds that the checked box also says something about a person's genetic background.
This work comes on the heels of several contradictory studies about the genetic basis of race. Some found that race is a social construct with no genetic basis while others suggested that clear genetic differences exist between people of different races.
What makes the current study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, more conclusive is its size. The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent....
Without knowing how the participants had identified themselves, Risch and his team ran the results through a computer program that grouped individuals according to patterns of the 326 [DNA] signposts. This analysis could have resulted in any number of different clusters, but only four clear groups turned up. And in each case the individuals within those clusters all fell within the same self-identified racial group.
"This shows that people's self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background," Risch said.
When the team further analyzed each of the four clusters, they found two distinct sub-groups within the East Asian genetic cluster. These two groups correlated with people who identified themselves as Chinese and Japanese. None of the other genetic groups could be broken down into smaller sub-sections. This suggests that there isn't enough genetic difference to distinguish between people who have ancestry from northern Europe versus southern Europe, for example. Risch admitted that few people in this study were of recent mixed ancestry, who might not fall into such neat genetic categories.
often pointed out the absurdities inherent in the U.S. Government's race
and ethnicity guidelines, but I've also admitted that on the whole they
tend to be good
enough for government work.
Gregg Easterbrook has some sensible caveats to offer about Jared Diamond's Collapse.
Personally, I suspect that Diamond worked on his book too long. By the time he got it done, history had moved on and the word "collapse" was less evocative of environmental catastrophe than of what has happened to birthrates among the productive portion of the world's population. Diamond's book will help scare bright and impressionable young people into childlessness, which is turning out to be a much worse problem for civilization than the deforestation that scares Diamond.
Fighting off the common cold: I have a lousy immune system, so I'm vulnerable to catching a cold almost any time I get tired. For example, right now I can feel a sore throat developing, so I'm headed to bed soon.
I've found that the herb echinacea temporarily boosts my immune system, often eliminating the sore throat for several hours. I've also found that zinc will knock down many a cold that has already started.
This does not mean these will work for you. But doctors don't seem to understand that immune systems differ. The NYT quotes:
Dr. Eric Larson, an internist at Group Health in Seattle, said, "If anybody actually found a way to prevent a cold, we'd all know about it and we'd all be using it, and there would be no disagreement among doctors."
No, no, no. The whole point of William D. Hamilton's famous Red Queen theory for why there are two sexes, instead of just females cloning themselves, is so there exists a diversity of genomes, most specifically immune systems, so parasites (i.e., germs) can't evolve specialized attacks Sexual reproduction reshuffles the genetic deck with each new generation so that we put up new defenses against germs.
So, what works for my immune system (echinacea and zinc) is not likely to work for everybody else's. It's basic evolutionary logic, but doctors don't know anything about evolution.
Yuri Slezkine's The Jewish Century gets a positive review from The Forward, the former Yiddish newspaper now published in English.
Also, Ami Eden, the national editor of The Forward, published an important op-ed in the NYT called "Playing the Holocaust Card:"
Jewish organizations and advocates of Israel fail to grasp that they are no longer viewed as the voice of the disenfranchised. Rather, they are seen as a global Goliath, close to the seats of power and capable of influencing policies and damaging reputations. As such, their efforts to raise the alarm increasingly appear as bullying.
A brave essay. One thing that could be added is that Jews need to realize that people like Abe Foxman and Morris Dees are not on their sides. They are on the sides of Abe Foxman and Morris Dees, respectively. They make a very nice living scaring the bejeebers out of elderly affluent Jews with nightmare stories about how the New Cossacks are ready to ride, and then extracting big donations.
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