Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Links

Stingray and LabRat at Atomic Nerds have been putting me to shame, blogging up a storm. Go to Stingray for blistering commentary on political and other idiocies, while LabRat has been writing on science at a level that good magazines should be paying generous amounts for (like that's going to happen these days.) She also turned me on to the wonderful dog/ science blog Smartdogs' Weblog. Read it all and go back into the archives (this of course goes for the Nerds too-- I think they may be the first blog that, when I found the site, I went into the archives and read them all.)

Speaking of dogs (or "dogs") I have found, with the help of several friends, some YouTube archives of Belyaev's foxes- morphing- into- doglike- creatures. Readers of this blog and students of canine evo know that by selecting ONLY for tameness at his Siberian institute, he produced little creatures that resembled mini- border collies.

Click here and here. The second also features well- known dog scholars Ray Coppinger (with the Massachusetts accent) and James Serpell.

Al Gates adds a a huge gallery of Vadim Gorbatov's art to his Eaglefalconer site. Lots of good Asian falconry stuff on the greater site too. I am gratified to say that I have the original ink and wash sketch of one of the oils there, courtesy of Vadim (done for a Korean edition of Ernest Thompson Seton's Lobo, a whole 'nother story.) Maybe I will put it up later...

Is human evolution stalled because of a lack of older fathers?

Is agriculture MUCH older than we think? Also see this article about a sort of Stonehenge in Turkish Kurdistan-- only 7000 years older.

The Guardian adds to its list of politically correct and damaging words such terms as, among others, "Siamese twins; Calcutta; deaf ears; illegal asylum seeker; province of Northern Ireland; grandmother; bachelor." HT David Zincavage.

I think Matt is going to review State By State so I won't spend much time on it here. But it sounds awfully like some project dreamed up by New York editors who contacted people in the "right" crowd, not necessarily ones who loved their (adopted?) states. Whatever (considerable) virtues she has as a writer, does Alexandra Fuller, a white African living in the millionaires' enclave (not "a cabin in the lonesome hinterlands") of Jackson, speak for Wyoming? The Arizona one sounds so condescending, calling the state "a blight of a place", that even the NYT reviewer says "On second thought, Millet might just need to move."

Finally, for sheer fun, try this. Engrish Funny is always good, but this is priceless.

4 comments:

smartdogs said...

Hey thanks!

Going through your archives now - and adding you to our blogroll.

Janeen

Matt Mullenix said...

The "older fathers" theory: Who can claim to undestand natural selection and yet suggest evolution is "grinding to a halt?"

A halt in what? Toward where?

There is an overwash of "evolution as progress" theory at work here.

Natural selection doesn't lead to "progress." Species don't evolve in any linear fashion---toward any particular shape or ability; they just change in response to environmental pressures.

Change can't possibly "halt," unless a specie stops breeding. Clearly that's not happening in our case.

And what would it mean to suggest that that human evolution (any species' evolution) is even slowing down? Are not people still dying of disease, accidents, bad choices, and bad habits? Are not some others surviving the same?

If fewer are dying of things that would have killed us before the modern day, more of us are also dying of things that the modern day has wrought!

For every infant saved solely by antibiotics (me, for example), how many of us are being killed by our highly-variable ability to pilot our automobiles? Or killed by exciting new cancers sparked by exciting new chemicals? Or choked to death by smog, or siezed by heart attacks borne of industrial-scale fats and sugars?

Skin cancer is on the rise. Yet you're worried about the "browning" of the average human skin tone? The system, sir, is working!

Ah Professor Jones, human evolution is ticking away at a furious rate, fear ye not!

Anonymous said...

The "older fathers" theory.

Well, at leat , Bill cllinton tired.

WH

Matt Mullenix said...

Following the Zincavage thread to the original post, the essayists funny intro using some of the Gaurdian's new taboo words:

"There are too few active homosexuals and career women in the Third World. This is because blacks and Asians — from Australasia to Bangalore — have a tendency to put them in a pot, cook them and eat them. Primitive African tribes also eat crippled people — those in a wheelchair, or merely suffering from a hare lip — and indeed those they consider to be ethnic minorities. I know of one handicapped spinster who committed suicide rather than be eaten by some gypsies in Bombay. Her illegitimate daughter, an air hostess, who herself had given birth to Siamese twins in Calcutta, appealed for clemency but this fell on deaf ears. She is now an illegal asylum seeker living in the province of Northern Ireland — and a grandmother to boot, with a bachelor son."