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September 27, 2003
Armenians may like it.
"52 percent of Levites of Ashkenazi origin have a particular genetic signature that originated in Central Asia, although it is also found less frequently in the Middle East," according to a new report. "The ancestor who introduced it into the Ashkenazi Levites could perhaps have been from the Khazars, a Turkic tribe whose king converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century."
See extended entry for the full report.
Geneticists Report Finding Central Asian Link to Levites
A team of geneticists studying the ancestry of Jewish communities has found an unusual genetic signature that occurs in more than half the Levites of Ashkenazi descent. The signature is thought to have originated in Central Asia, not the Near East, which is the ancestral home of Jews. The finding raises the question of how the signature became so widespread among the Levites, an ancient caste of hereditary Jewish priests.
The genetic signature occurs on the male or Y chromosome and comes from a few men, or perhaps a single ancestor, who lived about 1,000 years ago, just as the Ashkenazim were beginning to be established in Europe. Ashkenazim, from whom most American Jews descend, are one of the two main branches of Jews, the other being the Sephardim, whose ancestors were expelled from Spain.
The new report, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, was prepared by population geneticists in Israel, the United States and England, who have been studying the genetics of Jewish communities for the last six years.
They say that 52 percent of Levites of Ashkenazi origin have a particular genetic signature that originated in Central Asia, although it is also found less frequently in the Middle East. The ancestor who introduced it into the Ashkenazi Levites could perhaps have been from the Khazars, a Turkic tribe whose king converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century, the researchers suggest.
Their reasoning is that the signature, a set of DNA variations known as R1a1, is common in the region north of Georgia that was once occupied by the Khazar kingdom. The signature did reach the Near East, probably before the founding of the Jewish community, but it is still rare there. The scholars say they cannot exclude the possibility that a Jewish founder brought the signature on his Y chromosome to the Ashkenazi population, but they consider that a less likely explanation.
The present descendants of the Khazars have not been identified. Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona, one of the authors of the report, said he was looking among the Chuvash, a Turkic-speaking people of the Volga Valley, to see if they might have contributed the R1a1 signature.
Dr. Shaye Cohen, professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, said he could see no problem with outsiders being converted to the Jewish community. He said he considered it less probable, however, that outsiders would become Levites, let alone founding members of the Levite community in Europe. The connection with the Khazars is "all hypothesis," he said.
Even if the Khazar hypothesis is correct, it would have no practical effect on who is a Levite today. "Genetics is not a reality under rabbinic law," Dr. Cohen said. "Second, the function of Levites is so minimal it doesn't mean anything."
Six years ago Dr. Hammer and Dr. Karl Skorecki, of the Technion and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, looked at the Y chromosomes of both Levites and Cohanim. Both are hereditary priesthoods passed from father to son. They were important in ancient Israel, but sometime between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500 their functions were taken over by rabbis, and Jewish status came to be defined by the biologically more reliable standard of maternal descent.
If the patrilineal descent of the two priestly castes had indeed been followed as tradition describes, then all Cohanim should be descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, and all Levites from Levi, the third son of the patriarch Jacob. Dr. Hammer and Dr. Skorecki found that more than half the Cohanim, in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities, did indeed carry the same genetic signature on their Y chromosome. Their ancestor lived some 3,000 years ago, based on genetic calculations, and may indeed have been Aaron, Dr. Skorecki said.
But the picture among the Levites was less clear, suggesting that they had a mixed ancestry. Dr. Hammer and Dr. Skorecki returned to the puzzle for their new report, based on data gathered from nearly 1,000 men of Ashkenazi and Sephardi origin and neighboring non-Jewish populations.
They found that the dominant signature among the Levites was the R1a1 signature, which is different from the Cohanim signature. The paternal ancestry of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Levites is different, unlike the Cohanim from the two branches, who resemble each other and presumably originated before the two branches split. And the ancestor of the R1a1 signature apparently lived 2,000 years more recently than the founder of the Cohanim signature.
The Levites' pedigree does not seem to accord with tradition as well as the Cohanim one does but is venerable nonetheless. "How many people can trace their ancestry back to the 17th century, let alone a thousand years?" Dr. Hammer said.
Possible suspect held
This article reports what I assume everyone expected-incomes fell during the recession. It begins with the assertion that "The worsening economic conditions fell heaviest on Midwesterners and nonwhites." It then proceeds to present a parade of percentages (alliteration unintentional). What I find curious is that I would like to know absolute numbers-for though minorities suffered, I suspect that whites were a majority, especially when you add the smaller group of non-Midwestern whites, of those who experienced the downward pressure toward poverty. Interestingly, Asian Americans sufferred a 4.5% drop in median income (vs. 3% drop for blacks and 2.9% for Hispanics). This might be the result of their concentration in IT, where salaries were inflated for several years in the late 90s and have dropped back down to earth.
Wireless connection in your head
Another one bites the dust for print
September 26, 2003
Cousin you look mighty perty
Steve Sailer links to an article that encapsulates Ahmad Chalabai's response to his piece in The American Conservative on cousin marriage-""The Jews have had cousin marriages galore, and it hasn’t hurt them." When I asked a friend of mine who is half-Israel Arab (his father's family are Arabs from Nazareth who have Israeli citizenship) about cousin marriage-his response was, "Cousins are the only people of the opposite sex that you get to meet, so it makes sense...." His own sister, who moved to Israel to live with her retired mother (who is of Scottish ancestry), ended up marrying a first cousin. As for Jews marrying relatives, perhaps there is something cultural that explains it, but obviously the small number of potential mates of appropriate background had something to do with the inbreeding. The prevention of fraternization between men and women of the opposite sex who aren't related has the same practical effect-shrinking the possible options for marriage down to a small tightly knit circle.
I guess realist American conservatives are in the position of asking Arabs to be just a bit more slutty, though they wouldn't want them to be as slutty as this. The Golden Mean was forgotten long ago....
Read ParaPundit's article which spawned much of the blogospheric debate on this topic.
Coupling vs. Coupling
I saw the NBC version of the comedy Coupling tonight. By a weird coincidence BBC America had the same episode on earlier in the original British version! And yes, about 75% of the script was same, word for word. It was really weird watching Americans behave like they were...British. Perhaps watching the British version totally ruined it, but I kept thinking that the American actors were trying to channel the British characters (down to the ticks and mannerisms). I guess the nearest analogy is the complaint that the kids on Dawson's Creek were bizarro world versions of real teenagers-I just felt like the banter was somehow un-American. I'm sure this is partly (all?) due to the fact that I've seen the British series in multiple episodes, so any photocopy will be a pale imitation.
I don't think the show works, it's not really funny and tries too hard. It'll get cancelled next season if not this season. On a few more important points-they converted some cultural references-so some of the things that mystified me in the original series made sense all of a sudden! Also, it seems that the American actors have a wider range of appearances than the British ones do. The American "Susan" (lead female character) is Jewish, while Jane (sexy shallow sluttish friend) is Eurasian, but additionally, the American "Jeff" is more plain & slobby than the British original, while Sally-USA is far more leggy and sensual than Sally-England (Sally-USA is actually played by an English actress). All in all, the American actors are probably somewhat better looking, and Sally & Susan are noticeably more svelt (and Rena Sofer doesn't have alien eyes!).
Pictures of all the actresses below....
September 25, 2003
Thank god for Australia!
After reading this article (attached below) on Australian aid & interference in Papua New Guinea, I can't help but think, "thank god for the New Guineans that Australia is right next door," so they can't forget about their former colony. Similarly, though Mexico is no colony and never was (officially), the presence of the United States to the north serves as both a labor outlet and a source of possible bail-outs (at least for the monied classes) to forestall social chaos. The unfortunate problem for many of these nations is that they have enough nationalistic pride to be angry at the interference by outside poweres, but not enough to counteract clannish behavior, family nepotism and corruption. Pity poor Rwanda, Belgium was a continent and a world away, out of sight, out of mind....
Australia and Papua New Guinea
ALEXANDER DOWNER, Australia's foreign minister, has a habit of talking down to his country's neighbours. Of Papua New Guinea (PNG), a former colony, which still depends on Australian aid for one-fifth of its budget, he said recently that it was “very lucky” to have this money. Mr Downer was responding to PNG's protests over Australia's plan to tie its aid, worth A$330m ($224m) a year, to stiff conditions. Australia wants to send a force of at least 200 police to tackle crime in PNG, and a posse of civil servants to sort out corruption and inefficiencies in the country's bureaucracy. If PNG rejected the proposal, he hinted, it might have to get by with less aid.
At first Sir Michael Somare, PNG's prime minister, accused Australia of wanting to take control of its old colony again and threatened to look elsewhere for his aid. After talks on September 18th between Sir Michael and Mr Downer in Port Moresby, the capital, PNG appeared to accept Australia's plan, subject to details being worked out by December.
Mr Downer called the plan “heightened Australian engagement” in PNG; but it also raised questions about Australia's wider strategic intentions in the Pacific. Two months ago, Australia led a force of more than 2,000 soldiers to restore order to the Solomon Islands, racked by civil conflict. The problems of both Pacific island countries stem partly from their rocky transitions to Westminster-style government after independence, PNG from Australia in 1975 and the Solomons from Britain three years later. In PNG's scattered provinces, loyalties are often more tribal than to parliament in far-away Port Moresby. Corruption has flourished. Money for hospitals and schools has disappeared. Foreigners live behind barbed wire in the crime-ridden capital.
Australia's conservative coalition government, led by John Howard, argues that intervention in the affairs of so-called failed states in Australia's neighbourhood is justified to stop them turning into havens for international crime and terrorism. Although life in PNG has not broken down to the same extent as in the Solomons, Australia says it is now time to get tough before it does. And, however unlikely it may appear that terrorists would choose island states such as the Solomons or PNG to launch attacks on Australia, the argument seems to have public approval at home.
Australia has been floating the idea of a Pacific economic and political community with a common currency based on the Australian dollar. But the PNG intervention is likely to strengthen feelings among island nations about loss of sovereignty. An Australian parliamentary inquiry into relations with the Pacific reported in August a sense of disapproval in the region towards Australia's “big brother” approach. Offering a helping hand is one thing; creating a climate of goodwill is another.
Green but worth a read
Ikram Saeed recommended Muslim Under Progress some time ago-but I haven't read it much until recently. Check it out, it is sane and green, a rare thing in my opinion (sorry Zack, I view you as a Muslim anomaly, outside of history ;) A recent post titled Some notes on secularism, secularisation and Islam: I begins a series that I will be keeping a close eye on, as a liberal (old school yo) I am interested in this topic, because we can not wish away 1 billion Muslims and they can not expect the universal Dar-al-Islam anytime soon (unless broadly interpreted as a pluralistic confederation of civilizations).
"The International Balzan Foundation has awarded the prestigious Balzan Prize in genetics and evolution to Wen-Hsiung Li, the George Wells Beadle Distinguished Service Professor in Ecology & Evolution." Speaking of mathematical population geneticists. I have a copy of his book Molecular Evolution, which has a pretty gentle learning curve (almost like a general survey), especially if you have any genetics background.
Wish I had a bigger head
Mauritius as an African model?
Full article attached below for non-subscribers. Mauritius seems to be a model for co-existence of many ethnic groups, and with a market dominant minority (whites) to boot. See this page for an explanation of the Byzantine Mauritian ethnic structure.
Mauritius changes government
Offshore and upbeat
A HAPPY game of musical chairs is due to begin on September 30th. Shortly after lunch, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the prime minister of Mauritius, will resign, to be replaced within hours by his deputy, Paul Bérenger. A few days later, Sir Anerood takes up the largely ceremonial job of president. It is a measure of the stability of this Indian Ocean island, far off Africa's east coast, that all this has been in the offing since an election in 2000. The party leaders struck a power-sharing deal, and stuck to it. This, says the prime minister-to-be, shows that “Mauritius is in great health with a real, lively democracy.”
Complicating matters, Mr Bérenger has a white skin, and traces his family roots to Marseilles in France. In most of Africa (Mauritius is a member of the African Union), the return of a white leader to power would be unlikely if not impossible. In Mauritius, there were no more than a few grumbles from the majority Indian group that, until now, has produced every prime minister since independence in 1968.
Some of the most resentful grumbles have come from Mouvement Républicain, a left-wing opposition party which is suggesting that Mr Bérenger's two-year rule, until the next election, will threaten national unity. It argues that the whites, who constitute just 2% of the 1.2m islanders, do not deserve political power because they already have too much of the economic sort, especially in tourism.
Mr Bérenger agrees that there are tensions between the different ethnic groups from Africa, India, China and Europe; and says that “under the surface of the nice postcard, Mauritius is still fragile.” Pretty deep under the surface, one might add: when asked about violence, people speak of an incident in 1999 when the police shot two rioters after a singer died in jail.
In 1982, Mauritius became the first African country to vote an opposition party successfully into office. Rival politicians usually agree on the policies that matter: Mr Bérenger has long dropped his once-socialist leanings. Co-operation between parties, especially on economic matters, reassures investors and has made Mauritians far richer than most African countries. Some 18,000 offshore financial companies are listed on the island; foreign tourists flock to its beaches; and investors are building a $100m high-tech “cyber city” for telecom and computer companies. An enviable model, indeed.
Edward Said dead
September 24, 2003
Will be in Portland, OR
I'm probably going to be in Portland this weekend (Imbler, not Maine). If anyone wants to have coffee (or actually, coffeed mud) @ Stump Town (on Belmont) on Sat. or Sunday email me (this doesn't include you B.H.G.-I'll give you a call before I show up).
God makes you rich
Blog navel gazing
Hey all, taking a break from the hub-bub of regular blogging. Something that I noticed recently when looking @ our traffic-we have gone up to 1,000 hits from about 600 in 2 weeks. Most of these new hits seem to be through search engines. Interestingly, the average length of visit has gone from about 3:30 to 2:46.
I decided to copy some data from The Truth Laid Bear Traffic Ranking. I then sampled some site meter results and converted the time in minutes:seconds into seconds, and multiplied seconds*hits. The results are in excel format, some interesting things to notice-I concentrated on the top end of the blogosphere as well as around GENE EXPRESSION.....
September 23, 2003
DNA study to settle ancient mystery about mingling of Inuit, Vikings asserts the headline-but read on, the story makes clear that it won't settle jack. Did some of the Greenland Norse become absorbed into the skraeling peoples? Surely. But if you read any of Gretel Ehrlich's books on Greenland you will note how much intermarriage has occurred between Danes, natives and other visitors since "re-contact" (one Inuit family notes proudly their Jewish ancestry from an early 19th century merchant in This Cold Heaven). I am skeptical that even "pure" Inuit who seem phenotypically non-European have escaped Danish taint in the past 300 years. I am a big fan of using genetics to answer historical questions, but 'tis often far easier to falsify than validate, and the archaeology to me implies that 1) Most Greenlanders left for Iceland or 2) if they were desparate they became accultured to Inuit methods and lost their Christian faith and European ways. Because there is an alternative and more plausible pathway to explain the presence of exogenous DNA from Scandinavia this seems more like a publicity stunt than an honest quest for an answer.
Abnormal is just deviation from the normal? (From: Tautology files)
Future Pundit posts on some new research by Robert Plomin indicating that abnormal cognitive function (learning disabilities) is the tail end of the normal spectrum. Kind of reminds me of the arguments over Asperger's Syndrome-is it an illness, or part of the normal human continuum? As we've noted before-assortive mating by IQ, personality and occupation might be resulting in an increase in the number of people expressing the symptom's of Aspergers-where before the various locii might be smeared throughout the population, they are now being brought together in the children of newly affluent and socially acceptable (marginally) geeks.
Some comments on my post More Census Gleanings may have got lost in the site changeover. Please repost any comments and questions and I will try to reply.
One of my replies that got lost was about the IQ of ‘Blacks’ in Britain. My post said that the Black-White differential was less than in the US, but this was questioned.
First, it should go without saying that there is no such thing as the IQ of a population. There is just the average score of a population on particular tests. The results of particular tests tend to correlate together, but a difference of 5 points or so in the population mean on different tests would not be unusual.
In my comments on the Black-White differential in Britain I was relying mainly on the following:
The gist of the various studies, summarised in , is that early studies (1960s and early 70s) on Blacks in Britain tended to show average IQ around 85 (with Whites around 100): a similar differential to the US. However, the samples included very recent immigrants, and when these were stripped out, the gap was narrower. More recent studies (1980s onward) have shown a further narrowing of the gap. Notably, the Child Health and Education Study (1980) shows a difference of only about 5 points on non-verbal tests and 9 points on verbal tests.
There is a potential pitfall in making comparisons over time if the meaning of ‘Black’ is changing. Most obviously, there has been a large increase in the proportion of mixed-race children. However, this pitfall appears to be avoided in reference , where children with parents from different ethnic groups were excluded from the study. In this study West Indian (Black Caribbean) children aged 7 to 15 had mean scores between .24 and .77 standard deviations below the White British control group, varying according to age group, the average over all age groups being about .5 s.d., equivalent to about 8 IQ points.
If anyone knows of a reputable recent study that shows a differential of more than 10 IQ points (about 2/3 of a standard deviation), I would be interested to know. Also, do American readers know of any data on Black Caribbean immigrants to the US? They have the reputation of doing better, both educationally and economically, than American blacks, but I don’t know of any IQ data.
Who is the cute one?
If you watched The Magdalene Sisters, can you answer the poll below on which one is the pretty one? Me and a leprechaun got into an argument on that point....
On a non-trivial note-Corante, the new home of Derek Lowe, is a pretty phat tech news portal! Also, I've also been reading Behavorial Genetics in the Postgenomic Era for the past few weeks in my spare time. The chapters on molecular biological methods & quantitative genetics and g are what I zoomed in on-but there's a lot of stuff in it that will interest someone more well versed in psychology. There is one chapter that shows how heritability (in this context the proportion of phenotypic variance attributable to genetic variance) increases as one moves up the socioeconomic ladder, something that shouldn't surprise GNXP readers.
Doesn't matter what's down under
Is Australia the world's gayest country? A few points....
Jason, any input?
September 22, 2003
Civil Rights Movement(s)
Immigrants Set Out on Their Own Freedom Ride (username:"gnxpreader" password:"expression").
Interesting archaeological find, a 6 foot (1.83 meters) tall female Germanic warrior who fits the martial model of her Celtic precedessor Boadicea. Interesting read in the context of previous posts on Celtic & Anglo-Saxon ancestry in the British population-if a warrior queen crossed the seas it seems likely other frauleins also made the journey.
The Muslims are Coming! The Muslims are Coming! declares this article over that Tech Central Station. The author makes plausible projections of the low European birth rate + the inevitable drop in Islamic birth rates to come to the conclusion that about 25% of Western Europeans might be Muslim within 50 years. Among the working age population that portion could be as high as 40%.
Are you terrified yet? Well, calm down, the author makes the case for the emergence of a "mélange" civilization. It would be Islamo-Christian, with antecedants in the early Ottomon polity. The problem I have is that such cultures have always existed within the Dar-al-Islam, but they tend to be anterior to the eventual development of a more thoroughly Muslim polity that reduces the non-Muslim population into dhimmitude. Of course, we are not slaves to history, Westen Islam could spark a Reformation in the faith, but I simply want to remind everyone that the rising Muslim elites have a long history of initial cooperation with the non-Muslim powers that be until the time when the dhimmi become disposable. Also, let me note that many of the dhimmi families that allied themselves with the early Muslim powers later converted to Islam and became part of the Muslim elite. The assumption is that the 75% of Europeans that are predominantly post-Christian will remain so and not convert to Islam in the presence of a vigorous religious tradition-but history teaches us that active organized religious minorities can transform societies that have no alternatives.
fn1. Need I elaborate that many of the above assertions could also apply to pre-Enlightenment Christianity? A modus vivendi often existed with the old pagan religions of Europe along the margins of Christendom. The ancient precedent for this behavior seems to be the period between The Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. when the Christians received official toleration from the Empire and 392 when Theodosius the Great banned private pagan worship-the Christians clearly waited until they possessed the commanding heights before dispatching their pagan rivals. After the Battle of Frigidus the pagan elite of the Western Empire finally converted to the new religion.
Against Dean of the bobos?
This NRO article is a good illustration of my point that means of organization and identification originating in the Left have now bled to the Right. I think it can be said that Howard Dean is not a big fan of Christian fundamentalists-but is he a bigot? The author even hints that Dean is anti-black through syllogistic means. Just like "racist" or "racism" the term "bigot" has lost all meaning (as did "fascist" decades ago). The author does make a good point, that much of the journalistic elite is out of touch with conservative Christians, but then again, many conservative Christians I have known personally tend to have less than flattering views of people that live in the porn belt or individuals who espouse a sensibility generally considered affinal to the reductio ad absurdum of free speech that is hard-core pornography. True, if the secular Left would make less of a fuss when politicians expressed evangelical religious devotion, then they would be less open to charges of hypocrisy. On the other hand, Dean, as a Congregationalist married to a Jew, is making his own religious statement by taking a stand against the evangelical Protestant subculture which has nurtured G.W. Bush (he of Episcopalian birth, Methodist confession and occasional Jews are going to Hell [this includes Howard Dean's wife & children] musings) and asserting the validity of the religious liberalism that characterizes his home state. What we have is an angry clash of American cultures-not American bigotries-whatever the latter may mean.
fn1. A) Dean dislikes fundamentalists B) Blacks are fundamentalists...ergo....
Brown Senator from Illinois?
The World on PRI had a segment on a Sikh Indian American running for a senate seat in Illinois as a Republican. The piece highlights the fact that the candidate dresses like a traditional Sikh. What get's on my nerves about this sort of piece are moments like when a spokesmen for an Indian American Republican group says they (Indian Americans) are "natural" Republicans. This is all glossy marketing, after all, Jews, blacks and now Latinos have been "natural" Republicans as well. Working class whites from the south are also "natural" Democratics (post-1964 presidential politics). Politics is more complex than pre-digested soundbites and many choices are obviously individual. Our culture is so saturated with discourse framed in identity politics and the importance of group affiliation that even the putatively individualistic Right now views issues through that lens. Perhaps that's what most irritated me when National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru profiled Indian American Republican Bobby Jindal, who is running for the spot of governor of Louisiana. I know that Ramesh might be able to bring some extra perspective because of his commonalities with the candidate-but I don't want this to be such a big factor that non-white conservatives (or liberals, or fill-in-the-black) are stuck in the same box as black conservatives, always being dictated & defined by race from both the Left & the Right through both ostracism & encouragement despite their attempt to argue that we need to transcend ethnic affiliation as a key organizing principle of civic life.
World On Edge
(via Jack Strocchi)
Vinod reviews Mexifornia.