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January 04, 2003



Idiot Cloner

The idiot cloner updates that I see on Drudge are kind of like the news tickers at the bottom of CNN, I'm just starting to discount them and assume it's background noise.

Posted by razib at 12:03 PM | | TrackBack


Heretical thoughts

While perusing another of my favorite blogs, littlegreenfootballs, I came across a link to this article.

The author writes about the psychological trauma of growing up in the PLO-controlled areas of the West Bank/Gaza.

An excerpt:
"Survival in such a culture necessitates some numbing. But this psychological component might be insignificant relative to the neurobiological effects of being beaten and tortured in childhood. It was Harvard researchers who first revealed that stress hormones released when children experience physical and sexual abuse actually impede development of that part of the brain responsible for empathy and conscience. "

Brain scans of those who suffered through events common in the childhood of Palestinian children reveal an underdeveloped hippocampus and vermis. Among the behaviors associated with this sort of brain damage: impulsivity, sadism, and suicide."

The conditions of the West Bank and Gaza certainly mirror some African societies. So, we come back to the chicken-and-egg question. What part of Africa's woes are genetic and what part are environmental? Which came first? The best "control" we have continues to be the African diaspora--where we still see blacks continuing to do more poorly in measures of cognitive skills. However, they do better in America than their (malnourished) African counterparts living in war-torn countries. What would Africa be like with an "equality of opportunity"? What is the potential? After decades of mismanagement, will some countries like Ghana eventually join the world economy and trade in proportion to its size? After all, Russia's economy is currently size of Holland's after Communism's reign. Or is Africa doomed to labor with a genetically determined cognitive deficit?

Just some Saturday ramblings.

Posted by david at 11:34 AM | | TrackBack

January 03, 2003



Conceding the game before it begins

Para Pundit points me to this article in the WASHINGTON TIMES about the drift to the Right of European politics because of Muslim immigration. Once the cultural elites go into denial mode about the problems of culturally incompatible immigration and obstacles to assimilation-the populace has to turn to more rough-hewn demagogues as their only defense against the destruction of their culture.

This can lead to problems. For instance, it is clear that Muslim immigrants from South Asia are a serious long term problem for the UK. Their tendency to be found in the underclass and riot out of control is known. But to generalize to South Asians as a whole causes difficulties-because the fact is that Hindus, especially those exiled from East Africa, tend to be highly productive and law-abiding citizens. Hindu Gujarati immigrants from East Africa look much the same to a typical white person as those from Pakistan or Bangladesh. A policy that discriminated against South Asians as a whole might actually deprive England of some its most entrepenurial and socially stable individuals. With the cultural elites-who are often well aware of the nuances-refusing to tackle the geniune problems that come with mass immigration, we shouldn't be surprised if Europeans react by employing a sledge-hammer where a knife might be more suitable.

Posted by razib at 05:13 PM | | TrackBack


On IP

I'm channeling the ghost-of-Joel here (from an article in the NY TIMES):


The industry association is trying to persuade European Union countries to extend copyright terms. Meanwhile, Mr. Turkewitz said, "we will try to get these products blocked," arguing that customs agents "have the authority to seize these European recordings even in the absence of an injunction brought by the copyright owners."

The RIAA tries to use righteous interpretations of the "law" when it favors them, and attempts to change the law (or erect a customs barrier) when it doesn't. I understand that this is their bread & butter-so of course they'll fight for it, but they should drop the schtick about principle and just admit that it's a dog-eat-dog Darwinian fight for survival against the odds of history (we all go extinct at some point).

Posted by razib at 04:25 PM | | TrackBack

January 01, 2003



A losing fight

This article in the LA TIMES highlights Hawaii's attempts to preserve its endemic species and fight "exotics" that are invading the ecosystem. Laudable, but I found some of the attempts rather bizarre. Children are being encouraged to destroy ant-hills. The fact is, what are the chances that social insects will now be extirpated from the islands? It seems resources should be concetrated on mammals-we have a good track record exterminating them.

On a whimsical note-if the human race goes extinct because of some super-plague, and millions of years from now another sentient species attempts to develop biological paradigms, Creationism might not seem that implausible because of "exotic species." The presence of Red Deer in New Zealand, Camels in Australia, Gray Squirrels in Europe and Starlings would be difficult to explain via a naturalistic process and would no doubt confound attempts by the E. O. Wilson's of the day to publish an Island Biogeography.

Posted by razib at 11:36 PM | | TrackBack


A new guy

Hey loyal readers. Razib et al have graciously decided to let me post on here occasionally. I'm a biochemist by training but hopefully will be moving on to other, more profitable pursuits in the near future.

Happy New Year to those following the Western calendar:)


[Dave, remember to select "Publish"-I assumed that you made a mistake and left it at draft. Also, now we have our first African-American contributor if my ass isn't black enough for you :) -Razib]

Posted by david at 12:07 PM | | TrackBack

December 31, 2002



Change is always in the air

Steve Sailer points me to this article by J.P. Zmirak titled Tolkien, Hitler, and Nordic Heroism. Interesting reading, but there is one thing that caught my eye:


Tolkien saw in this literature a great, unsung moment in the birth of the West. Like the Baron de Montesquieu, Tolkien saw as specifically "Nordic" the individualism and hatred for tyranny that pervades these sagas, which set medieval and modern man apart from the obedient subjects of Rome and Byzantium. (See David Gress’ From Plato to NATO for more on this fascinating connection.)

I've read Gress' book, it was very erudite. But I'm always perplexed by this idea that Germans barbarians introduced the idea of freedom to the west. What happened to those Greeks who resisted the Persians? The Roman Republic conquering decadent Oriental despotisms? Or the idea that National Socialism took root in Germany because of its authoritarian cultural orientation?

Both the Greeks and Romans did move toward authoritarian despotisms. And Scandinavia and Germany have moved toward "Social Democracy" and the "Social Market" polities. Is there much of a difference?

Posted by razib at 11:14 PM | | TrackBack


Porno Arabica

This article about Israeli-Arab porn is great. Excellent to get snippets from too. Check them out:


"The whole town is satisfied and dissatisfied at once," said local man Fathi Sultan. "Satisfied at what happened, because we tried to protect our honor, but on the other hand dissatisfied because she (Kashua) didn't die, nor her husband."
...
"This is a blow to the sensitivity of Muslims everywhere," said Tira attorney Ihab Galgoly, who was representing two men arrested on suspicion of leading the assault on the couple.

"We are considering suing the producers for breach of the law guaranteeing human dignity and freedom."
...
"There is considerable demand from the Arab sector for porn which 'speaks to them', as it were. So we wanted to emphasize that this was a precedent-setting ethnic film," he said.
...
Kashua's brother endorsed the attack on the couple. "If I could, I would eat them both raw and spit them out," he told Israeli television, his face obscured and first name withheld. [sounds kinky]
...
"Since this whole story over 'Yussuf and Fatima' broke out, we have sold hundreds of copies, most of them in the Arab sector," he said. "We may make another Arabic film. It pays."


Why is that that Muslims want everyone to be sensative about their cultural feelings but we are expected to understand people celebrating the WTC attack are simply acting out on decades of oppression?

Porn for the people I say!

Posted by razib at 09:20 PM | | TrackBack


On height

The standard reasons for why the people of southern Sudan or northern Europe are tall is that their height is climatically adaptive (greater surface area: volume for the slim Dinka, while the Swedes tend to be more robust and so reduce their ratio). I wonder, has anyone done work that indicates that populations that have practiced cereal agriculture longer might be on average smaller (Syrians and Swedes for instance have thousands of years between them, and the type of agriculture practiced differs)?

My reasoning (which might be fallacious, I would like to know from someone more in the know than I): Taller men tend to be preferred by women the world over, so why are some groups taller than others? There must be something that favors short men. Perhaps with the onset of cereal agriculture and the drop in protein intake and the periodic reality of famine, larger men were more likely to die of malnutrition than shorter men who could make it through lean times because of their lower caloric needs. Anyone done work on this area?

(note-I don't discount the climatic explainations, I just wonder if this might be another factor. Also, please realize that I am not a "heightist" who believes in the inferiority of short men! It is just a fact that women prefer taller ones)

Posted by razib at 09:09 PM | | TrackBack


There's one way to always make $$$

This piece in Slate indicates to me that as always the porn industry will be early adopters of cloning. I won't quote-it's a short article, go read it!

Posted by razib at 02:37 AM | | TrackBack

December 30, 2002



Wow-times have changed, but it's still whitey's fault!

An LA Times article:


"I don't have a problem with separate but equal. It's just that this isn't equal," said Ruben Hopkins, 43, a financial analyst, who is black.

Huh? The article is about segregation in Milwaukee. It seems to imply that prejudice from the white population is keeping blacks away (probably somewhat true), but note this one sentence:

In the city too, they remain in traditionally black neighborhoods north of the Menomonee River. Whites live in the south, joined by a growing number of Latino and Asian immigrants.

Those articles titled "America in black & white," should be retitled "America in black & non-black," because the irrational white hatred of the colored seems to fall disproportionately on African-Americans. Why? See below:

Woodrow Reed, now a middle-age car mechanic, crossed the river on those marches as a defiant black teen. He is proud, even now, of the victory. But he has long since retreated to what he calls "the heart of the 'hood."

He does not stray south of the river, does not cross the wasteland of the Menomonee River Valley, with its tangle of railroad tracks and old brick smokestacks. He stays where he feels comfortable.

"I'm back where I came from," Reed said.


Update:

"I have a question for Truth Teller, is it THEORETICALLY possible for someone to honestly believe in HBD things like genetic differences in IQ among races and not be racist?

Posted by -R at December 31, 2002 07:36 PM "



"Of course not, fool. The fact someone would rush to claim racial superiority is in itself evidence of racism since there is no support for that belief. Your belief in white supremacy is no different than the Raelians belief in extraterrestial seeding. There is no evidence of either, but the adherents believe because they want to.

Posted by Truth Teller at December 31, 2002 08:08 PM "


For what it's worth, I believe that one need not be racist (and use normative language like "superior" and "inferior") and still accept human biodiversity. I also think one can be reasonable in expressing skepticism while still taking in the facts that are out there. Some who post on the message board are clearly human biodiversity skeptics, but they don't go around saying "Dodo" and "Fool" to whoever disagrees with them because their position is so obviously correct.

Posted by razib at 04:20 AM | | TrackBack


Laugh out loud funny-really

I was watching History Channel International the other day. It was about the "Chinese mob." One of the most amusing lines went as follows:


The Emperor became concerned that the mafia were an organization that was undermining the dynasty.

My friend who was was watching it with me laughed. She's a student of Chinese history, and commented that "the Emperors think that any organization might undermine the dynasty." I added that I suspect the Chinese government today lives in fear that Friday-night card games run by old men in Shanghai will lead to the collapse of their state because of the development of a parallel organization that rivals the Communist Party. It is a grave development....

The Chinese state is so busy looking down trampling the little bugs underfoot that it's going to slam its head against a tree branch one of these days. And boy will that be fun to watch.

The second amusing thing that happened was that the commercial for Joe Millionaire aired on E!, and it was longer than the one on Fox. Boy, these women are going to humiliate themselves. I was crying I was so laughing so hysterically. And it's just the teaser commercial! I hope it doesn't turn out to be like a movie trailer that promises a lot more action (read: humiliation) than turns out to be the case in the full length feature. (the premise is that a bunch of women are given the false impression that the bachelor is inheriting $50 million dollars when he actually only makes $19,000 a year)

Posted by razib at 02:37 AM | | TrackBack

December 29, 2002



At least someone else started the conversation this time!

Charles Murtaugh href="http://www.charlesmurtaugh.blogspot.com/2002_12_01_charlesmurtaugh_archive.html#90098337"
>says
the unsayable-the short-term benefit of swamping Africa (southern Africa) with antiretrovirals
might not be so good in the long-term (thanks to Future
Pundit
for the link):


This won't make me any friends, I realize. As long as I'm not making friends, let me ask another un-p.c.
question about AIDS in Africa and here. If the superinfection problem is real, it means that unsafe sex
(here or abroad, gay or straight -- but see my previous post for qualifications) could rapidly spread drug-
resistant virus through a population on antiretrovirals. The result is that broader access to antiretrovirals
in Africa could produce a breeding ground for drug-resistant HIV. How will this affect the international
AIDS advocacy dynamic, if First Worlders start to see Third World antiretroviral drug access as a threat
to their own public health?

I've been verbally attacked in public places by close friends for even mooting this line of thinking. The
objection seemed to be that "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," right now "we need to save lives."
But the fact remains that sometimes we do have to think in the long-term, that's why we have these
complicated neo-cortical systems that have the ability to override our emotional impulses (in theory).

Not only are there negative long-term consequences epidemiologically, I also believe there are negative
social consequences of swamping the market with cheap drugs that treat the symptoms, but do nothing to
the underlying illness and mitigate the consequences of risky behavior. The results from trials in
Zimbabwe and Botswana do indicate that Africans do stick to their regimens rather well, so the nay-
sayers, I included, were wrong when we asserted that the drugs would be wasted by improper application.
Nevertheless, I do believe that this catastrophe that is causing such problems in Africa and to a
lesser extent the rest of the world highlights the risks for certain types of behavior that were culturally or
biologically favored in a different context.

As I have stated repeatedly, Thailand was supposed to be the center of the "post-African AIDS epidemic,"
but seroposivity remains ~2%. In contrast, Uganda is touted as a "success" at 5% seroposivity. In fact,
previously unaffected southern Africa became the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Does anyone
doubt that the fact that this region of the world exhibits polygamous mating patterns is part of the cause?
The fact is that human beings, in relatively literate and stable societies (Botswana), still engage in risky
sexual behavior when the HIV infection rates in the surrounding population hovers around 25%! We
have seen the same behavior among homosexual men. It is clear that in much of the world women serve
as a restraint on male sexual recklessness (as best as they can), but in southern Africa (and other regions
as well), the traditional expectation of multiple simultaneous sexual partners for men undermines this. In
addition, Christianization and the concomitant "official" abolition of polygamy, has spread the sexual
network far and wide as women no longer live under same roof and must have several "boyfriends" to
support them. You can also look at this chart
and see that the AIDS epidemic in the United States is concentrated among blacks and to a lesser extent
Latinos.

Liberal whites can make grandiloquent gestures of altruism, because the epidemic is not tearing through
white or Asian societies in the same manner as it is in black or brown cultures. Whether the difference is
cultural or biological, we must explore it. Some of us have met the enemy and it is us.

Posted by razib at 12:54 PM | | TrackBack


At least someone else started the conversation this time!

Charles Murtaugh says the unsayable-the short-term benefit of swamping Africa (southern Africa) with antiretrovirals might not be so good in the long-term (thanks to Future Pundit for the link):


This won't make me any friends, I realize. As long as I'm not making friends, let me ask another un-p.c. question about AIDS in Africa and here. If the superinfection problem is real, it means that unsafe sex (here or abroad, gay or straight -- but see my previous post for qualifications) could rapidly spread drug-resistant virus through a population on antiretrovirals. The result is that broader access to antiretrovirals in Africa could produce a breeding ground for drug-resistant HIV. How will this affect the international AIDS advocacy dynamic, if First Worlders start to see Third World antiretroviral drug access as a threat to their own public health?

I've been verbally attacked in public places by close friends for even mooting this line of thinking. The objection seemed to be that "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," right now "we need to save lives." But the fact remains that sometimes we do have to think in the long-term, that's why we have these complicated neo-cortical systems that have the ability to override our emotional impulses (in theory).

Not only are there negative long-term consequences epidemiologically, I also believe there are negative social consequences of swamping the market with cheap drugs that treat the symptoms, but do nothing to the underlying illness and mitigate the consequences of risky behavior. The results from trials in Zimbabwe and Botswana do indicate that Africans do stick to their regimens rather well, so the nay-sayers, I included, were wrong when we asserted that the drugs would be wasted by improper application. Nevertheless, I do believe that this catastrophe that is causing such problems in Africa and to a lesser extent the rest of the world highlights the risks for certain types of behavior that were culturally or biologically favored in a different context.

As I have stated repeatedly, Thailand was supposed to be the center of the "post-African AIDS epidemic," but seroposivity remains ~2%. In contrast, Uganda is touted as a "success" at 5% seroposivity. In fact, previously unaffected southern Africa became the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Does anyone doubt that the fact that this region of the world exhibits polygamous mating patterns is part of the cause? The fact is that human beings, in relatively literate and stable societies (Botswana), still engage in risky sexual behavior when the HIV infection rates in the surrounding population hovers around 25%! We have seen the same behavior among homosexual men. It is clear that in much of the world women serve as a restraint on male sexual recklessness (as best as they can), but in southern Africa (and other regions as well), the traditional expectation of multiple simultaneous sexual partners for men undermines this. In addition, Christianization and the concomitant "official" abolition of polygamy, has spread the sexual network far and wide as women no longer live under same roof and must have several "boyfriends" to support them. You can also look at this chart and see that the AIDS epidemic in the United States is concentrated among blacks and to a lesser extent Latinos.

Liberal whites can make grandiloquent gestures of altruism, because the epidemic is not tearing through white or Asian societies in the same manner as it is in black or brown cultures. Whether the difference is cultural or biological, we must explore it. Some of us have met the enemy and it is us.

Posted by razib at 12:54 PM | | TrackBack


At least someone else started the conversation this time!

Charles Murtaugh says the unsayable-the short-term benefit of swamping Africa (southern Africa) with antiretrovirals might not be so good in the long-term (thanks to Future Pundit for the link):


This won't make me any friends, I realize. As long as I'm not making friends, let me ask another un-p.c. question about AIDS in Africa and here. If the superinfection problem is real, it means that unsafe sex (here or abroad, gay or straight -- but see my previous post for qualifications) could rapidly spread drug-resistant virus through a population on antiretrovirals. The result is that broader access to antiretrovirals in Africa could produce a breeding ground for drug-resistant HIV. How will this affect the international AIDS advocacy dynamic, if First Worlders start to see Third World antiretroviral drug access as a threat to their own public health?

I've been verbally attacked in public places by close friends for even mooting this line of thinking. The objection seemed to be that "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," right now "we need to save lives." But the fact remains that sometimes we do have to think in the long-term, that's why we have these complicated neo-cortical systems that have the ability to override our emotional impulses (in theory).

Not only are there negative long-term consequences epidemiologically, I also believe there are negative social consequences of swamping the market with cheap drugs that treat the symptoms, but do nothing to the underlying illness and mitigate the consequences of risky behavior. The results from trials in Zimbabwe and Botswana do indicate that Africans do stick to their regimens rather well, so the nay-sayers, I included, were wrong when we asserted that the drugs would be wasted by improper application. Nevertheless, I do believe that this catastrophe that is causing such problems in Africa and to a lesser extent the rest of the world highlights the risks for certain types of behavior that were culturally or biologically favored in a different context.

As I have stated repeatedly, Thailand was supposed to be the center of the "post-African AIDS epidemic," but seroposivity remains ~2%. In contrast, Uganda is touted as a "success" at 5% seroposivity. In fact, previously unaffected southern Africa became the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Does anyone doubt that the fact that this region of the world exhibits polygamous mating patterns is part of the cause? The fact is that human beings, in relatively literate and stable societies (Botswana), still engage in risky sexual behavior when the HIV infection rates in the surrounding population hovers around 25%! We have seen the same behavior among homosexual men. It is clear that in much of the world women serve as a restraint on male sexual recklessness (as best as they can), but in southern Africa (and other regions as well), the traditional expectation of multiple simultaneous sexual partners for men undermines this. In addition, Christianization and the concomitant "official" abolition of polygamy, has spread the sexual network far and wide as women no longer live under same roof and must have several "boyfriends" to support them. You can also look at this chart and see that the AIDS epidemic in the United States is concentrated among blacks and to a lesser extent Latinos.

Liberal whites can make grandiloquent gestures of altruism, because the epidemic is not tearing through white or Asian societies in the same manner as it is in black or brown cultures. Whether the difference is cultural or biological, we must explore it. Some of us have met the enemy and it is us.

Posted by razib at 12:54 PM | | TrackBack