Open Thread, 09/24/2017

Reading Harold Marcus’ A History of Ethiopia. So far a little too heavy on diplomatic as opposed to social history. My curiosity was piqued when reading The Fortunes of Africa when the author observed that the geopolitical extend of the modern Ethiopian state was partially a function of a relatively late state expansion in the 19t and 20th centuries from the Abyssinian highlands.

It’s one of those facts which allow other facts to snap into place. I’ve always been curious about the huge number of Muslims and Somalis in modern Ethiopia. Well, it turns out to be a function of the fact that the borders were drawn at a particular moment and time.

Neolithization of North Africa involved the migration of people from both the Levant and Europe.

A stray thought I had. For years people have been wary about Richard Dawkins’ conflation of atheism with science, and evolution more particularly. I am starting to wonder if the more self-conscious political activism of scientists, almost uniformly on the Left, will start to have an impact.

The problem is that at for now scientists depend on the public for their funding by and large (there are exceptions obviously). A polarized public which does not esteem science and has a faction which sees it as hostile may be less interested in cutting checks for “blue sky” projects (i.e., NIH will be fine, but the NSF….). Since academics are overwhelming of one political orientation I suspect they have a poor intuition of how quickly such a change could come about (there is more real diversity there than is vocalized, but many people I know personally have no inclination for public denunciations due to any heterodoxy, so they keep their mouths shut).

Going to the ASHG meeting in one month. I doubt I will venture out into Orlando. I have been to a conference in that city before, but never left the convention center attached to the airport! Am I missing something?

In general, I avoid national politics. But the whole controversy around football is curious because I’m skeptical that the sport will be around in a generation.

One thing that I have been thinking recently is dropping my Twitter follow back down to 300 or so. I still use Twitter obviously…but it’s getting too dumb. And lots of interesting and smart voices are going passively into lurk mode because it’s exhausting having to deal with dumb people.

17 thoughts on “Open Thread, 09/24/2017

  1. I can’t think of a sport to replace football. Baseball is the “white” major league sport but football is less boring. It’s possible all major league sports decrease in popularity and E-Sports rise.

  2. Any updates on the Rakhigarhi DNA?

    I haven’t noticed anything in the media, and I’m not sure where to look for academic sources, as it’s not my field.

  3. Re your twitter follow count comment.

    There’s a school of thought how many people you follow on twitter should be linear to how many followers you have. At best a log scale makes sense. Katy Perry has 100M followers, so that number makes need for log ratio clear. Given where twitter is at, I think having a very strict list of people you follow makes sense. In fact, my opinion is twitter follow count should be linear to how much *time* you spend on the service, and your own follower count shouldn’t be used at all in considering how many you follow.

    Also, FWIW, a useful trick I’ve found is keeping follow list smaller. But at same time having a larger list of extended people to pay attention to using list. To put some numbers, I follow about 130, but my extended list is about 530. So maybe 4:1 ratio. I often dip into the 530 list. But most days I just skim the follow list. If you use twitter more time or less time, then scale both numbers accordingly. I also sometimes bump smart people to the extended list if they tweet too much, just for SNR reasons. Variety is important.

    I know some people flip this approach. Main follow is high, then 1/4 of them on a short list of people you pay attention to. Suspect this more natural to how twitter works. And certainly more friendly for people with high follow counts, who don’t want to discourage marginal people by not them following back. Or muting. But your mileage may vary. It helps to use a twitter client that can open to a list or get to a list easily. I have my main twitter bookmark on desktop with both follow and extended list for direct access depending on my mood.

    Hard to believe twitter list management still is terrible, as it’s a core feature to power users.

    In terms of examples, @SteveStuWill and @DegenRolf are on the primary/short follow list for me. I’ve had people I really like unfollow me. But after thinking about it, especially if I see their follow list is small, it makes total sense. And honestly if people get pissed about this kind of stuff, they belong on your extended follow list, not your main one. Life is short. Everyone’s time is important. Don’t waste time on boring stuff. If you want to be kinder to your followers, make your follow list the 4x one. And your primary attention group of people be on a twitter list you look at first.

    Last point. An extended list is especially useful with nuzzle for finding good links.

  4. I follow about 250 people (Razib of course) and in return I am followed by 20. That’s just fine with me since I don’t often have much to say. I find it more worthwhile reading tweets from the people whom I respect and those with knowledge of the subjects that interest me. So Twitter works fine with me and keeps me from posting something embarrassingly stupid to those that I follow.

  5. middle class parents are starting to pull their kids out of playing the sport in the last few years.

    I know a former NFL player who is a dad now. He does NOT want his sons playing football. They are doing Judo and wrestling.

  6. yeah, this comes up in parents circles. if you have a son, it’s a question people mull. most people that i know say “no, not going to happen.” the exceptions tend to be bigger guys who have bigger sons and live in areas where football is a huge part of the culture. though they aren’t enthusiastic they assume that they are going to have to sign off on it. but who knows in 10 years?

  7. fwiw, checked that site has google analytics from sept 2006. 4.5 million users over 11 years. not bad considering that the site went into hibernation 2009 or so.

  8. fwiw, checked that site has google analytics from sept 2006. 4.5 million users over 11 years. not bad considering that the site went into hibernation 2009 or so.

    (i’m certain there was at least a few million before GA started kicking in)

  9. My recollection is that usually state building begins in the lowlands and struggles to make it up to the highlands. Mountains tend to form the borders between states rather than the centers of them. I suppose Switzerland would count as something of an exception to that rule, but it didn’t really expand outward into surrounding lowlands.

  10. How’s central Florida doing? I have family in Houston so I do have an “eye on the ground” about the cleanup efforts there. Don’t know about Orlando though.

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