Archive for August, 2007

10 Questions for Greg Clark

In his new book A Farewell to Alms, Greg Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, contends that “[t]he New World after the Neolithic Revolution offered economic success to a different kind of agent than had been typical in hunter-gatherer society: Those with patience, who could wait to enjoy greater consumption in […]

Haldane and self-experimentation

No, not that Haldane. His father. Seth Roberts points to several reviews of a new biography of JS Haldane. He was apparently quite the self-experimenter: He survived concentrations of carbon monoxide in the blood that would, as his biographer notes, have looked entirely plausible as the ’cause of death’ on a death certificate. ‘Dry air,’ […]

Not So Sure

Over the last few years the British government has spent a good deal of taxpayers’ money on educational activities for pre-school children, under the heading of ‘Sure Start‘, aimed especially at those from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’. If this sounds vaguely familiar to American readers, that should not be surprising, as the Sure Start scheme is partly […]

Can you chuck your kännykkä

Finns dominate mobile-chucking contest. Labels: Finn baiting

Dutch Height (again)

As I have several times discussed the height of the Dutch (and other peoples) I was interested to come across a reference to this article. Unfortunately I don’t at present have access to the full article (without paying $30), but the abstract says: In the late-Middle Ages and at the onset of the early modern […]

More howler monkey lovin’

John Hawks follows up the monkey hybridization story, providing some important ecological context: [T]he primary difference between the two species is cold tolerance: A. pigra can and does live at higher altitudes than A. palliata, ranging high enough that it must tolerate freezing temperatures…Larger monkeys with larger, more complex molars, differences in throat anatomy, and […]

Genomics & insurance

The Economist has a long piece about the impact that ubiquitous genetic testing will have on health insurance, especially in the United States. This part is crucial: …If that is the consequence, then other ways of paying will have to be devised. Carol McCall of Humana, a big American health-care provider, thinks a move toward […]

Against Open Access???

It seems that a coalition of non-Open Access journals, Partnership in Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, is out to take down journals like PLOS. I know people have to put bread on the table, but really there isn’t an open-ended guarantee that you can milk your business model forever. In any case, Blog Around […]

Redheads going extinct hoax

Just wanted put a note here that I have two posts, here and here about a new incarnation of the “redheads are going to go extinct” meme. The current culprit is National Geographic Magazine. The only reason that I know about this is that there was a spike of traffic from message boards on my […]

News from Derbyshire

I tend to assume that all people of taste and intelligence (e.g. readers of Gene Expression) will regularly check out John Derbyshire’s site, but in case they don’t, here is his brilliant review of a book by Robert Spencer.

New Steven Pinker interview

Check out this new interview with Steven Pinker. It ostensibly focuses on his new book, The Stuff of Thought, though it covers a lot of ground. My own feeling is that the interviewer should have let the focus be more on Pinker than his own pet theories, but there’s a lot of good stuff in […]

The Bailey article

Alice Dreger’s account of the Bailey story is available here [pdf]. It’s a dizzying trip through the looking glass– there are plastic vulvas, Stalinist purges of the transexual ranks, and, of course, a neo-conservative conspiracy. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, just imagine an Almodovar movie gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Drink as I say

I’m reading When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise And Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty, a history of the Abbasids. This on page 169 caught my attention: …the caliph called for wine. A golden goblet was brought and the drink was poured into it. Ma’mum drank and handed it to Hasan….Hasan, a good Muslim […]

Inter-species monkey lovin’

From an article in Genetics: Well-documented cases of natural hybridization among primates are not common. In New World primates, natural hybridization has been reported only for small-bodied species, but no genotypic data have ever been gathered that confirm these reports. Here we present genetic evidence of hybridization of two large-bodied species of neotropical primates that […]

Skull Shape-Shifters

The UK Times today has a short report into some surprising research findings. The main text is as follows: A study into the mysterious changing skull shape of medieval man casts serious doubt on current theories. The peculiar shift from long narrow heads to those of a rounder shape, and back again, which took place […]

And so it starts

John Hawks has put up an inaugural post in a series on natural selection. His background as an English major shows (in a good way). It is interesting to note that John alludes to the Malthusian background of natural selection, since Greg Clark’s work presupposes exactly this dynamic up until the 19th century for our […]

In Germany Tyler Cowen blogs for Gene Expression!

Read all about it in Spiegel Online (who knew that Yoda wrote for a German audience?). Here is the original post by “Tyler Cowen.” Labels: German baiting


Pardon the interruption, but if anyone has successfully used Parallels with a Windows XP partition in Boot Camp that is FAT 32 configured would you please drop a line (clicking the name “amnestic” above will result in a pop-up window with a contact box)? I have been combing through the knowledge bases, blog entries, and […]

The impulse to prefer now to then?

There’s a new paper which uses fMRI to localize an area of the brain which seems to be involved in preventing impulsive actions. I can’t but help think that something like this, which might vary from person to person, could be one of the upstream factors which shapes individual time preference. This is on my […]

RNA regulons

One of my favorite recent ideas wondering through the literature is that of an RNA regulon or post-transcriptional operon. Operons in prokaryotes are groups of genes whose protein products all function in the same biochemical pathway. The genes are coordinated by sticking them all next to each other and transcribing all when you transcribe one. […]