Open Thread, 01/15/2019

Update: Forgot to open comments on this. Fixed.

Robert Alter has a new translation of The Hebrew Bible out. I really like Alter’s work. In particular, Genesis: Translation and Commentary. But read all his stuff!

NPR has an interview with him up right now. He admits that he did the translation in longhand!

Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in over 1 million individuals identify hundreds of loci and shared genetic influences.

Changing environments and genetic variation: inbreeding does not compromise short-term physiological responses. At least in Arabidopsis lyrata.

Saudi Woman Who Fled Home Embraces All Things Canadian. (O.K., Maybe Not Winter.). Women in Saudi Arabia basically live in a form of slavery, in that they are somewhat the property of the paternal lineage.

Almost all of the actresses who’ve played Cleopatra have been white. But was she? This is in Vox. There are some good writers at Vox, but they also produce click-bait for mildly above average IQ liberals. So I’m curious when articles like this come up how they justify giving their audience the conclusions they want.

At one point, the author says “The researchers believe Arsinoe’s remains, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother (also likely Cleopatra’s) was African.” The link goes to the BBC, and a 2009 article: “But remains of the queen’s sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an ‘African’ skeleton….”‘ Looking even deeper, I found the conclusions about Arsinoe’s mother comes from old measurements of the skull. In other words, Vox is citing research on skull-shape which indicate African ancestry!

This is really weird. But I guess not surprising. A conclusion in search of an argument.

Arab Christians clash violently with police in Haifa over ‘McJesus’ sculpture. Honestly, not surprising that they got angry. Can you imagine if a McDonald’s had a depiction of Muhammad?

Evolution of the mating type locus with suppressed recombination.

Hunter-gatherer genomes reveal diverse demographic trajectories following the rise of farming in East Africa.

7-month-old Japanese girl with full head of thick hair becomes latest Instagram sensation.

Scientists Are Using CRISPR to Make Spicy Tomatoes.

Exploring deep-time relationships between cultural and genetic evolution in Northeast Asia.

Reading Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not. Skeptical of the thesis, but fascinated by empirical data.

Looks like Quillette event in Toronto was a success. Several friends went, and asked if I was going, but alas, I’m a family man now and can’t just go jetting off to events at the last second! Lots of familiar faces to people who read this weblog in the photos….

9 thoughts on “Open Thread, 01/15/2019

  1. 1) Disagree with you about Gemma Chan for Cleopatra role. Chan choice panders to received notions of ‘beauty’ and ‘gender’. Rather, Gemma Chan should portray, say, Jesse Owens in biopic. I think it would be best for Dennis Rodman to portray Napoleon. And you, Razib, would make an ideal Lady Gaga…Don’t deny, as fellow iconoclast, you would love the role.

    2) What thinkst thou as both a popgen guy and father? For real. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/insect-collapse-we-are-destroying-our-life-support-systems

  2. Arab Christians clash violently with police in Haifa over ‘McJesus’ sculpture
    Should’ve popped it into a jar of urine instead. You’d have an even bigger mob of woke Westerners defending the museum. Ronald’s too déclassés for them to care though.

  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0766-1 – paper this week on selection on mtdna and mitonuclear autosomal dna detected by comparisons of mtdna to X estimated sex bias in admixture.

    Wonder how relevant to ancient dna, and observed mtdna to y discordance? Underscores necessity of methods to use the X as a check on estimates of historical sex bias admixture based on comparisons of mtdna to autosome / y.

  4. I quite like what I have seen of Alter’s translation. It captures the rhythm and word-play of the Hebrew much better than KJV and its descendants do. It will be interesting to see if it becomes a “standard” Jewish translation.

    The Quillette event looks interesting, but this is the first I’ve heard of it — was not mentioned in any of the local papers so far as I can see, neither in local Reddits or whatever.

    Canada-SA and Canada-China relations are the subjects of daily discussion in the press around these parts. We are in an election year here, and the government’s actions partially take the wind out of the sails of the other parties.

  5. I have often commented about how contemporary gender theory is like ancient Gnosticism. They both disavow any connection between physical reality and mental processes:

    I ran across this:

    “This book demonstrates that ancient Christian Gnosticism was an ancient form of cultural criticism in a mythological garb. It establishes that, much like modern forms of critical theory, ancient Gnosticism was set on deconstructing mainstream discourses and cultural premises. Strains of critical theory dealt with include the Frankfurt School, queer theory, and poststructural philosophy.”

    https://ancientesotericism.org/2019/01/03/new-book-wrestling-with-archons-gnosticism-as-a-critical-theory-of-culture/

    The difference between that author and me is that I do not think that reviving mystical connections to the spirit world is an intellectual or scientific way forward.

  6. “Reading Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not. Skeptical of the thesis, but fascinated by empirical data.”

    The blurb points to Muslim suppression of printing as a causal factor in the poverty of the Muslim world. I think that is true, but that the problems run much deeper.

    Muslims made the philosopher Al-Ghazali normative. Ghazali had rejected cause and effect and held that Allah recreates the world at every instant. This is a theory that does not lead to science.

    The fact is that the Muslim world has not taken to science and industry. East Asia has demonstrated an ability to compete with the Euro American world on a level playing field. And South Asia seems to be getting the hang of it. But, if the Middle East runs out of oil, they are up a creek without a paddle.

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