DNAGeeks is doing the last holiday push.
The new WordPress post editor kind of sucks. Installed a plugin to get rid of it. I guess it’s easier if you aren’t comfortable in HTML and want to do complex layouts, but I think the site is OK as is (though perhaps I need a better degradation to mobile?).
A lot of people have been telling me that The Three-Body Problem is good. Thoughts?
Population structure of modern-day Italians reveals patterns of ancient and archaic ancestries in Southern Europe. The paper points to the fact that it seems that a Caucasus-related ancestry that has been seen in early Bronze Age Greece also seems to have impacted southern Italy and Sicily. There’s a paper that will come out soon with ancient samples from Sicily and Sardinia that confirms this. The same Caucasus-related ancestry is found in the steppe expansion, but that too came into Italy through the north.
Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone. One of the craziest stories I’ve read this year.
The untold story of how India’s sex workers prevented an Aids epidemic. About twenty years ago or so there were a lot of stories about how India was going to be the next major locus of HIV infection. That hasn’t occurred.
Don’t blame Trump for the demise of The Weekly Standard. I’m still shocked that The American Conservative is still around, while The Weekly Standard is not. In general, I think reliance on a patron means you need to be careful about your heterodoxies. Life is about trade-offs. Scott McConnell has a reflection on the passing of The Weekly Standard, What The Weekly Standard Has Wrought:
If the Iraq war was sold to the American establishment by a small elite, the price was borne by many. Estimates of the fiscal costs run from $1 trillion to as much as $3 trillion, (if you credit Nobel prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz’s calculations, which include the long-term care costs for American soldiers with lifelong and life shattering injuries). The human costs to the soldiers and their families was substantial. Throughout the Mideast, the number of people killed, wounded, or turned into refugees by the invasion was staggering. The American “regional dominance” touted by the Standard proved entirely fanciful.
It is hard for younger people to remember what the years after 9/11 were like. The center-Left was broadly in support of the initial invasion of Iraq, though with some qualms, and ultimately turned against it. The Right was different. Aside from a few people at The American Conservative and stubborn individuals like Greg Cochran, by and large, there wasn’t any strong dissent from one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history. It is striking to me that so many of the people associated with The Weekly Standard are now given “strange new respect” by “resistance liberals” when they backed a war with such consequences (though to be fair, the center-Left which now pays homage to The Weekly Standard were usually in favor of the war before they were against it).
Another Clever Proxy for Quantitative History. If you don’t know who Peter Turchin is, familiarize yourself!
As 2018 turns to 2019 some of you may be wondering about books you should read. If you haven’t, Who We Are and How We Got Here is still very relevant.
F. W. Mote’s Imperial China is highly recommended as well.
David Warsh’s Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations is well written. If you want to get a sense of ‘endogenous growth theory.’
Justin Fox’s Myth of the Rational Market is good too. There was a period in the second half of the 2000s when a lot of good popular books on economics and finance were coming out (for obvious reasons).
The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World. This book is less crazy reading today than it was years ago when I read it. Some of the predictions have been born out.
If you are looking for scientific biography with heft, I recommend Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology.
Wittgenstein’s Poker. An enjoyable read. If you don’t know much about Wittgenstein or Popper aside from sketches, it might be a good place to start (a bit too soft on Wittgenstein and hard on Popper from what I recall by the way, at least for my taste).
The Coming Anarchy. This book was wrong. But it can still illuminate in the wrongness.
If you haven’t gotten a copy of Principles of Population Genetics, not too late. Not a book you need to read front to back. Just read a chapter here and there.
With Christmas coming up, I don’t know how much time or inclination I’ll have to blog. So happy holidays to everyone if you don’t see me around much!
How the Catholic Church Created Our Liberal World. These arguments are not new. I first encountered them in Adam Bellow’s In Praise of Nepotism. I’m not totally convinced…I wonder if the rise of capitalism and modernity in Western Europe was over-determined. One thing to note is that the largest gradient of genetic variation in Europe is north-to-south. Northern Europe from Ireland to Russia is relatively uniform. But the socio-cultural gap between west and east is striking and derives in large part from the difference between a Latin Christian West, and an east which was not Latin and usually Orthodox Christian.