Open Thread, 11/4/2018

So in a few days everyone can stop pretending to be cut-rate Nate Silvers.

My prediction: Dems will take the House. But Republicans will make a gain of +1 in the Senate.

Pakistan’s Hybrid Government and the Aasia Bibi Fiasco.. Basically, reasonable people in Pakistan are terrified about being openly reasonable, lest the crazy minority kill them. Another thing is that the details of what this woman did is irrelevant now, she’s a symbol. We’ve seen this in the United States: feelings don’t care about your facts.

DNA Sequencing Giant Illumina Will Buy Pacific Biosciences For $1.2 Billion – Exclusive CEO Interview. I think this is precautionary.

Half of Americans believe in ghosts…

Least-cost pathway models indicate northern human dispersal from Sunda to Sahul.

Inferring the ancestry of everyone. “We introduce an algorithm to infer whole-genome history which has comparable accuracy to the state-of-the-art but can process around four orders of magnitude more sequences.”

Largest genome-wide association study for PTSD identifies genetic risk loci in European and African ancestries and implicates novel biological pathways.

Many options, few solutions: over 60 million years snakes converged on a few optimal venom formulations.

Genetic Consequences of Social Stratification in Great Britain. This is obviously triggering discussion. But please note this preprint is the beginning of a conversation, not the closure on anything.

Species limits in butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): Reconciling classical taxonomy with the multispecies coalescent.

Again, Tim Blanning’s Frederick The Great is interesting as both biography and history of 18th century Prussia. The book has the subtitle “King of Prussia,” but if Blanning was in it for the clicks, it would be “The Gay Atheist Autocrat.”

9 thoughts on “Open Thread, 11/4/2018

  1. Is PTSD well defined?

    I read an article in a newspaper a few years ago where the author claimed that true PTSD was an organic syndrome caused by multiple brain concussions due to battlefield exposure to explosions. A soldier tending an artillery piece can take quite a beating even though the enemy never laid a glove on him.

    In pop culture every teenage girl who gets kissed by a boy she doesn’t fancy now claims to have PTSD. I suspect that claim is intact male bovide dejecta.

  2. Re: Genetic Consequences of Social Stratification in Great Britain, very thought provoking. It does seem like you’d expect that this should happen, as much as it is worrying and difficult for “national cohesion”.

    Questions that kind of strike me:

    1) Seems less likely based on this that we should expect other recent world migrations to be neutral samples of population of origin, even when not selected.

    2) How much a general case that migrating individuals in general should be “better”? “Better individuals move” as the economists have it. Doesn’t seem like a more general trend way looking at Australia + USA in the longer historical term (no insult intended).

    3) How much of the pattern is explained by migration to go to university and then staying in situ afterwards? Forced migration, of sorts. Against post-education, but education specific pull factors.

    Looking at the US GSS (which is a bit apples to oranges compared to coal fields in UK, yes), you do tend to find a bit of an effect where moving individuals tend to have higher education outcomes and prestige (both relative to Wordsum and in absolute terms), but it looks like occupational prestige scores and income relative to education for movers vs non-movers are a bit flatter: (So movers advantage totally attributable to extra education, not actually moving itself?).

    Universities and mass university attendance as a historically unusual mechanism forcing social segregation by EA? If you look at it that way, higher education itself is going to be causal for centralization and concentration of high incomes, high property prices, underutilization of urban infrastructure in certain areas, etc.

  3. Sounds about right on the election call. The Senate races have mostly been rather red this year, and McCaskill and Heitkampf are running in states with a notable Republican partisan advantage (meaning that if all things were equal, there would be more Republican voters than Democratic ones). Party polarization makes this extra hard for them, since they’ll get much fewer cross-over voters and be heavily associated with the national party.

  4. …reasonable people in Pakistan are terrified about being openly reasonable, lest the crazy minority kill them…

    It’s trending this way in the US. US liberals and conservatives are not that different. But the extremes of both ends are going that way. Conservatives are not free to put a bumper sticker on a car in a lot of towns. Any MAGA hats seem to attract violent loonies.

    By the way, have you ever actually seen a MAGA hat? I live in a solidly Repub area, and have never actually seen one in the flesh.

  5. Real bluesky question…

    Does anyone have a time series for the cost(*) of common spices imported from the Spice Islands starting with Roman times and extending up to the VOC period? I would expect that when the trade lanes came under European control that the cost (4x) of black pepper plummeted.


    * FOB Amsterdam while I’m wishing.

  6. “2) How much a general case that migrating individuals in general should be “better”? “Better individuals move” as the economists have it. Doesn’t seem like a more general trend way looking at Australia + USA in the longer historical term (no insult intended).”

    There’s migration and there’s migration. In the 1800s, when most people farmed, the rural areas attracted all kinds of people. Every new town in the West had its farmers, blacksmiths, store owners, bankers, etc. But over time, as corporations increased in size and good jobs have become more concentrated in large coastal cities, the descendants of smarter people in the countryside have been sucked out.

    Another trend, which you highlight in your comment here, is more conjectural, and perhaps more interesting (not to mention politically incorrect). Gregory Clark has theorized that low-status whites in the English-speaking world bred faster than their high-status counterparts in the new lands, and that played a part in the weakening of the WASP ethnicity, particularly in the US.

    Can’t wait for his new book! And Plomin’s, and Charles Murray’s, and…

  7. I remember hearing talk about Illumina offering full-genome sequencing for $100 by the end of 2018. Any idea if that’s still a possibility?

    Nice election prediction btw.

  8. I had to explain to my daughter why, in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, farmers were high social status people in Australia. They were the only people in the country who were producing anything (then mostly wheat, and notably fine quality wool, once it was discovered that Spanish merino sheep did well in Australia’s hot dry conditions) that could be exported to earn foreign revenue for the country; hence the old saying that Australia “traveled on the sheep’s back.” Agriculture is still one of the country’s major ‘export’ industries (along with mining, tourism, and education, believe it or not), but it’s now scaled-up agribusiness, with farms run by employee managers, and the family farm is largely a thing of the past – not completely, but they tend to struggle financially when they have a bad season, and bankruptcies are common.

    Now, people in ‘regional’ areas have higher levels of obesity than people living in cities, lower educational attainment, poorer diet, poorer health outcomes, higher levels of alcoholism and opioid addiction, and a host of other markers. None of this is surprising. Regional areas are littered with ghost towns that were once thriving centres among farming communities. I imagine things are not too different in much of the USA.

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