Patrick Wyman does not recommend The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. The killer observation for me is that whenever Patrick knew a lot about the topic the author was kind of wrong or off. This is an incredibly important sign for me. If you don’t have this still, you probably need to get to a point where you know enough about a topic. Just pick one, any topic. Additionally, he observes that 40% of the book deals with 20th and 21st century history. That’s also a big no-no for me. Contemporary history is well covered in our society. We have a presentism bias.
On the other hand, I would recommend Empires of the Silk Road. Christopher I. Beckwith is kind of cranky, but he’s learned and interesting.
Valerie Hansen’s The Silk Road: A New History is one I’d also recommend. It’s more focused on archaeology and the earlier period before 1000 AD. Hansen also lacks the long narrative ambition of Beckwith’s treatment, but if you want to know how Sogdian merchants rolled during the Tang dynasty, this is for you.
Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road is also a good book, though its focus is rather narrow.
Lee Jussim asked on Twitter what counts as “white” today since so much social justice discourse (SJD) revolves around the concept. My response is basically “white” is what is necessary for you to win an argument (though another element now is that if you are Muslim you are not white, no matter how white you look, just like if you have a Spanish surname, you are not white either somehow). Here is how it works:
Italians are white: the ancient Romans were white people who oppressed and executed a marginalized person of color, a brown Palestinian named Jesus.
Italians are not white: Until after World War II Italians were actually not viewed as white, and had to “become white” (or, they had to become people who think they are white). They were even lynched!
The takeaway is that sophism is a feature, not a bug. That’s why I’m so good at faking this discourse.
Fire & Blood launch at Lowe’s theatre! Join John Hodgman and GRRM as they discuss Fire & Blood. Don’t miss the only appearance and book signing event for Fire & Blood. https://t.co/wAUsYk4aRw
— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) September 29, 2018
He’s trolling us.
Global alliances and wheels within wheels. Talking about the concern that American Leftists have about Hindu nationalism. Though they seem sanguine about Islamism.
Of all Trivers’ books though, I would really recommend Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected Papers of Robert Trivers. There’s a lot of science and biography in that work. Anecdotes about W. D. Hamilton in particular I enjoyed.
What’s China’s new luxury status symbol? A curvy butt. Had a conversation with a friend who is a businessman in China. His female employees have butt-workout apps.
An Empirical Demonstration of Unsupervised Machine Learning in Species Delimitation. The title is kind of weird. STRUCTURE? Also, I don’t really believe in automatic species delimitation. But it’s an effort.
Reihan Salam has a new book out, Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders. The title is a bit overwrought, but Reihan is not. Obviously we share a lot in terms of our backgrounds and our opinions. And on questions regarding assimilation we’ve been on the same page for a long time.
The Blank Slateism of the Right. This is really about the Anglo-Right. American conservatives who come out of the liberal tradition are big fans of John Locke. That should tell you all that you need to know.
Stuart Ritchie was not happy with Comfort’s review:
Another disgracefully smear-filled–not to mention factually sloppy–review of a genetics book from Nathaniel Comfort. Why do Nature keep asking this guy to write for them? https://t.co/QwNjk9U1st
— Stuart Ritchie (@StuartJRitchie) September 25, 2018
The review is as bad as you’d think. He doesn’t seem to know the science, but that’s a feature, not a bug, for the sort of review he’s going to give. It’s useful for me because I can note who retweets and “likes” the review, as these are people who I will ignore on all things genetics indefinitely.
A bigger question that I asked a few liberal academic friends: with all the concern over eugenics where’s the widespread objection among the usual hand wringers about noninvasive prenatal testing and widespread abortion of fetuses that test positive for Down Syndrome? In the Nordic countries nearly 100% of fetuses which test positive are aborted. In France about 75%. In the United states 70%.
My personal suspicion is that academics are much more concerned about future and vague eugenical specters. Not those activities done freely and through the proactive choice of people of their own class and likely liberal politics. Burn a few Robert Plomin’s at the stake, but make sure you don’t jeopardize your colleagues’ dreams of having a “healthy” baby.
Overlooked factors in the analysis of parole decisions. Basically it looks like the old result that judges are harsher before lunch is an artifact of who is seen before lunch (prisoners without attorneys tended to be seen before lunch).
Unless I have looked at the original study, I’m starting to just shy away from retelling results published through peer review. Studies really need to have sample sizes in the title. Small sample sizes are OK in some contexts, but so often they are used to get away with stuff.