Open Thread – 5/8/2023 – GNXP

I’m in New York City until Thursday. Might do some meet-ups… Email or DM me.

Finally finished my Iran sequence…

Been listening to audiobooks, The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance and The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny. The former is a narrative that’s really focused on the biographies of the great Medici so it’s great for listening when you’re running or whatever, and the latter so far has focused on personalities.

Open Thread: Ash and Elm…

I’m rereading Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, along with some other books on the Vikings and Scandinavians. Also revisiting papers like Population genomics of Mesolithic Scandinavia: Investigating early postglacial migration routes and high-latitude adaptation, which I believe reports the first individual that almost certainly had light hair and eyes in the ancient DNA record (look at “Sbj”). You can probably guess why I’m doing this, why I’m reading these papers and books. At the same time I also have started listening to “Viking music,” which is its own genre. It’s a nice juxtaposition.

I do not have much time for this blog right now, between the Substack and my primary focus, GenRAIT, which we introduced to the world at PAG 30 (we’re still rai$ing, so if you an angel you know to reach me).

But I’ll keep posting here now and then as usual. This blog has been going for more than 20 years now (since the spring of 2002).

Open Thread – 10/31/2022 – Gene Expression

Reading two books this month in prep for two podcasts, The Culture Transplant: How Migrants Make the Economies They Move To a Lot Like the Ones They Left and Don’t Be a Feminist: Essays on Genuine Justice. I consider both authors, Garett Jones and Bryan Caplan (both of GMU), friends.

What are you reading?

Open Thread – 9/15/2022 – Gene Expression

Re-reading The Turks in World History as I’m thinking about my next post in my series on the Eurasian steppe for Substack.

The Joy and Privilege of Growing Up in an Indie Bookstore – Erik Hoel on His Formative Years in the Shelves of His Mother’s Bookstore, The Jabberwocky.

What’s going on?

Open Thread – 7/17/2022 – Gene Expression

The new Rings of Power series debuts on September 2nd, so they have a new trailer out. I’m skeptical, but they pulled all the stops for the effects. My expectation is that this will be to the Tolkien canon what Taco Bell is to Mexican food, but I will be happy to be surprised. It is obvious that they are taking Black Númenóreans a bit too literally, but if they execute well on things unrelated to the identity politics I bet people will be willing to overlook that (it could be that this was just the price they’d have to pay in Hollywood to get this produced).

Tad Williams Into the Narrowdark – Last King of Osten Ard Book 3 is good. Williams, in my opinion, is great at navigating between George R. R. Martin’s somewhat excessively gruesome world-building with Brandon Sanderson’s “boy scout” approach. Like R. Scott Bakker he is excellent at the fashioning of human-like elven analogs that push into the uncanny valley territory of “human nature,” very much like us but different in critical ways as to seem alien and fantastic.

A Late Pleistocene human genome from Southwest China. I haven’t had time to read this closely, but thanks for posting the link.

I don’t have time to write up all the ancient DNA that is coming out, but I do try and read it. Keep the links coming; I do appreciate them.

Most of you know I ungated my Substack podcasts after two weeks. The reviews have trailed off, which means that there will be ‘less discovery’ of them. If you have a moment, I would appreciate a five-star (I may mention this on my podcast at some point, I don’t push this heavily).

I’ve been writing on this blog for 20 years. One sad trend is that a huge swath of academics are becoming incredibly conformist, censorious and ideologically motivated. Yes, this tendency was always there in a field like sociology, for example, but now it’s everywhere. The public doesn’t even know the tenth of it from what the stuff I hear. Just keep your skeptical hat on…

Open Thread – 06/07/2022 – Gene Expression

I feel I may have read Ancient China and its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History but I don’t recall reading it. So I’m reading it.

Please check out my Substack open thread.

America spends a lot more on schools than on police – And in international terms, our funding of both is very average. Matt Yglesias’ beat seems to be saying things that are easy to look up but no one bothers to say?

How did Etruscan, a language that has been dead for 2,000 years, give rise to the third letter of our alphabet?

The biocultural origins and dispersal of domestic chickens.

The Red-Pilling of Liberal America.

Polygenic Transcriptome Risk Scores Can Translate Genetic Results Between Species.

Open Thread – 05/08/2022 – Gene Expression

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s ouvre is appropriate, Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding, The Woman That Never Evolved and Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species.

Luxury Beliefs are Like Possessions: The way we treat objects can be generalized to the way we treat beliefs. Subscribe to Rob’s newsletter.

Episode 113: Should “The Bright Ages” Be Pulped For Its Racism, Or Merely Burned In Village Squares Nationwide?

The Ties that Blind: Misperceptions of the Opponent Fringe and the Miscalibration of Political Contempt.

Nick Patterson’s newsletter. May not post frequently, but probably worth a read if he does…

Migration, Ancient DNA, and European Prehistory: Interview with Kristian Kristiansen.

Open Thread – 4/24/2022

The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann is worth reading. It’s mostly science, and not too much about von Neumann’s personal life, though there is some that is there. The only negative I’d give is that because von Neumann died early the author includes some discussion about people who extended and furthered von Neumann’s legacy near the end of the book.

Survival of Late Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer Ancestry in the Iberian Peninsula. Southern Spain was a refuge for Neanderthals, and it looks like it was for Magdelanian people as well.

Patterns of genetic differentiation and the footprints of historical migrations in the Iberian Peninsula. I forgot that most of Spain’s genetic variation was west-east instead of north-south. Pretty strange.

Do members of Homo floresiensis still inhabit the Indonesian island where their fossils helped identify a new human species fewer than 20 years ago? This piece in The Scientist is triggering a massive media frenzy, but as the British would say, it’s “rubbish.” Basically an anthropology chooses to put weight on eyewitness accounts of local people. It’s really hard to hide medium-sized mammals, especially on an island like Flores. I doubt they’re still around.

Euro Vision (part 1). Second part out very soon.

Open Thread – 4/9/2022 – Gene Expression

I’ve been reading The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann before I go to sleep. Not sure I would recommend this, as the author, Ananyo Bhattacharya, does get a bit into the mathematical questions von Neumann explored in his early life. But overall, very readable, and so far von Neumann is sketched out as a very human individual (he was mediocre at chess, for example).

I talked about immigration (US) and migration with regards to Ukraine in particular with Alex Nowrasteh. It was a good conversation, in part because we are friendly with each other off the interwebs. I plan on posting a discussion with someone less amenable to “open borders” in the near future (stay tuned!).

The von Neumann book has made me push A Dominant Character: How J. B. S. Haldane Transformed Genetics, Became a Communist, and Risked His Neck for Science: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J. B. S. Haldane up my stack. Despite Haldane’s political radicalism, I do want to note that on the science he was very much aligned with the conservative, R. A. Fisher.

Open Thread – 3/1/2022 – Gene Expression

The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution. A book by the great Richard Wrangham.

Ancient DNA and deep population structure in sub-Saharan African foragers.

Life (science) comes at you fast, part 1.

University of California loses breakthrough CRISPR patent in PTO ruling.

Oregon Pulls Russian Vodka From Liquor Store Shelves.

The mass defunding of higher education that’s yet to come. 2017 post.