Archive for July, 2014
31 Jul 2014

History of Human Genetic Admixture

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AncestryMap

Interactive map of human genetic history

A global map detailing the genetic histories of 95 different populations across the world, showing likely genetic impacts of all sorts of events including the 13th century Mongol Invasion of Europe, has been revealed for the first time.

The interactive map, produced by researchers from Oxford University and UCL (University College London), details the histories of genetic mixing between each of the 95 populations across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America spanning the last four millennia.

The study, published this week in Science, simultaneously identifies, dates and characterises genetic mixing between populations. To do this, the researchers developed sophisticated statistical methods to analyse the DNA of 1490 individuals in 95 populations around the world. The work was chiefly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.

Read more

The group with the longest time since admixture is detected are the Kalash from Pakistan, with an
ancient inferred event prior to 206BCE, involving mixing between a more European group, and a more
Central/South Asian group (there may also be a contribution from people carrying DNA shared with
modern-day East Asians, but we are less certain about this). Some Kalash believe they are descended
from the army of Alexander the Great, as do other groups in the region, some of whom show similar
early events–our date does not rule this out but the date range also allows for other possibilities. …

There are a number of populations that show admixture events that are not straightforward enough to
be categorized by our current analysis. For example, the French show an event involving Northern and
Southern European and North African populations dating to 1085 years ago plus or minus 300 years.
However, according to the automated quantitative criterion we developed for characterizing admixture
events, this event is characterized as “uncertain”.

From the Science Junkie via Ratak Monodosico.

31 Jul 2014

Bespoke Tearing

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Bespoke-Tearing
Expensive custom tailoring underway.

The titled eminences at Louis XIV’s court at Versailles loved to run off and play at being shepherds and shepherdesses. Today’s fashionistas similarly deny wealth and status by adopting workingman’s denim, and the more beat up and distressed the better (and the more expensive).

Judith Thurman tells us all about it in the New Yorker.

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[A]ccording to an article on the British Web site the Conversation, that jeans savaged by wild animals are a trend in designer sportswear. A Japanese denim brand had the bright idea, at least for raising its profile, of sewing indigo-dyed cotton fabric around rimless tires, sausage-shaped bolsters, and fat rubber balls, and throwing the objects to the inmates of the Kamine Zoo, in Hitachi City. In an accompanying video, the beasts bound from their cages and fall upon their novel chew toys with such relish that you have to wonder if there isn’t a little catnip involved. The scene reminded me of toddlers on Christmas morning, tumbling down the stairs, unable to contain their excitement, and tearing into the neatly wrapped parcels under the tree.

When the fabric has been properly “distressed”—i.e., mauled—it is retrieved from the enclosures and made into trousers that are sold under the label Zoo Jeans. (The Japanese are avid consumers of premium denim, the funkier the better. The national obsession with jeans started during the postwar occupation, when teen-agers became smitten with the dungarees worn by their conquerors.) But, “rather than simply being a marketing gimmick, there is actually value in this from an animal welfare perspective,” the article explains. “Involving lions and the zoo’s other large carnivores”—tigers and bears—“in the activity is part of what’s called environmental enrichment. This is the provision of stimuli to help improve well-being. It’s a win-win activity for many zoos, who can make alternative profits from their animals, which tend to be used to provide extra facilities for them.”

Notice the caveat: “tend to be.” Three pairs of the jeans were auctioned, on July 7th, at a benefit for the zoo. The bidding on “T-1,” a model “designed” by the tigers, reached twelve hundred dollars. There were, inexplicably, no takers for “L-1,” pawed and gnawed at by the lions, or for “B-1,” a tag-team effort by two chubby bears (which, I thought, had the most artful lacerations). The destination of the other jeans seems to be upscale department stores, although a buyer at Selfridges, in London, complained that the rips were “too sporadic.”

Read the whole thing.

Kardashian
Poor Kim Kardashian has to wear jeans full of holes.

31 Jul 2014

Men!

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Men

In Kendo, you shout “Men!” as you strike at the head.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

30 Jul 2014

An Alarming Quotation

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RussiaWWI

The Financial Times reports that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, after nine years of deliberation, made a record damages award of $50 billion to Yukos shareholders, finding that

Through inflated tax claims, the ruling said, senior officials set out to destroy Russia’s then biggest oil company, transfer its assets to a state-controlled competitor – Rosneft – and put Mr Khodorkovsky in jail. …

Collecting may not be easy.

Though Russia cannot appeal against the award, Moscow said it would pursue all legal avenues for trying to get it “set aside”. It can try to argue in a Dutch national court that – contrary to the tribunal’s findings – it was not bound by the Energy Charter Treaty, the agreement regulating cross-border energy business which Russia signed but never ratified, and withdrew from in 2009.

Even if the ruling stands, shareholders face a tortuous battle trying to enforce it. If Moscow refuses to pay, they must pursue Russian sovereign commercial assets in the 150 countries that are party to the so-called 1958 New York Convention on enforcing arbitration awards.

But the real kicker in the story is this:


One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine. “There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?”

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

30 Jul 2014

Conservatism as Punk Rock

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ramones4
The Ramones at CBGB

Kurt Schlichter has a good rap, arguing that Conservatism is the new Punk Rock, while those sad millennial kids are listening to Tony Bennett.

We’ve heard it all before a hundred times, the same old lack of imagination, the same old sorry set list. The music of liberalism doesn’t move us, it doesn’t change us, it doesn’t excite us. It’s just there, aural wallpaper designed to keep us quiet, to get the liberals through one more election cycle, to help them hold power just a little longer.

Today, Sheena is no longer a punk rocker. Instead, she is a disaffected Oppression Studies grad student trying to pay off her $200K student loan debt working part-time at the local Starbucks. She chooses cuddly conformity and cozy control over the excitement of actual independence. Sure, she has a nose piercing the show that she’s a rebel, but this rebel’s cause is to replace her helicopter parents with a helicopter government.

We conservatives want to tear it all down. We conservatives want to smash it up. Liberalism, I want to destroy you. We’re where the action is, where the excitement is, where you can hear new music from bands you mainstream liberals have probably never heard of.

Liberals want to see themselves as punks. They aren’t. They are sad conformists who frankly deserve the consequences of their inaction.

Read the whole thing.

30 Jul 2014

Uma Thurman in “Mundane Goddess”

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Jameson Irish Whiskey has a Jameson First Shot Program giving three filmmakers a chance to make a short film produced by Kevin Spacey starring Uma Thurman. In this one, poor Uma (no longer Aphrodite, alas!) plays Hera, wife of Zeus, who is consulting a therapist.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

29 Jul 2014

Randian Harry Potter, Book 2

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HarryPotterMerpeople

Mallory Ortberg‘s Randian Harry Potter is back.

The merpeople brandished their spears fiercely. Harry looked around. Ron, Hermione and Gabrielle Delacour drifted lazily through the water, arms bound uselessly behind their backs. Where was Fleur? And where was Krum?

Harry turned to face the merpeople. “The true test is not whether a Triwizard Champion can perform an act of charity — an act of mercy — whether I am capable of saving these victims, these leechers, these children. I can, I assure you. The question is whether I can do without them, whether I can exist solely as my own entity. Whether I can perform an act of accomplishment.”

Harry carefully began placing the heaviest stones he could carry over the rope connecting Ron and Hermione, until they were hopelessly enmeshed in the lake bed.

“The answer, of course,” he said clearly, “is that I can.” He swam away. He swam alone. He had lost the task, perhaps, but he had won the only tournament that truly matters — the tournament of self.

“I hope you’re not expecting me to apologize,” Harry said without looking up the next day when a very muddy and a very angry-looking Ron and Hermione appeared in front of the door to his study. “And don’t come any closer. You’ll track lake water all over my new rug.”

Hat tip to Leah Libresco.

Earlier episode.

29 Jul 2014

“Not an Entitled Little Sh*t”

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YaleYarnsPrint

Andrew Giambrone (Y ’14) retorts to William Deresiewicz: “I’m a Laborer’s Son. I Went to Yale. I Am Not “Trapped in a Bubble of Privilege.

As a financial-aid kid whose life-prospects were significantly bolstered by attending an elite school, this subject is very personal for me, too. I come from a family of construction workers and laundry-owners in Brooklyn, the descendants of Italian and Chinese immigrants, respectively. My father is a laborer and my mother a human resources worker; they’ve both changed jobs across the years, owing to the recession and family circumstances. We don’t occupy an enviable financial situation by any means, and I’d hate to think our unsteady progress from working- to middle-class somehow makes me, as Deresiewicz puts it, “an entitled little shit.” He may have sleepwalked into college, but it’s wrong to assume we all did

Read the whole thing.

29 Jul 2014

“Pull the Ladder up, Captain, I’m Aboard!”

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BoardingLadder

Eugene Volokh (who arrived in America in 1975) warns against letting in those dirty immigrants who may change America and the way things are in this country at the present time.

[F]or all the good that immigration can do (and I’m an immigrant to the U.S., who is very glad that America let me in, and who generally supports immigration), unregulated immigration can dramatically change the nature of the target society. It makes a lot of sense for those who live there to think hard about how those changes can be managed, and in some situations to restrict the flow of immigrants — who, after all, will soon be entitled to affect their new countrymen’s rights and lives, through the vote if not through force. …

Letting in immigrants means letting in your future rulers. It may be selfish to worry about that, but it’s foolish not to. … [E]ven for America, the influx of millions of new citizens — both the potentially legalized current illegal immigrants and the many others who are likely to come in the wake of the legalization — can affect the society and the political system in considerable ways. It seems to me eminently sensible to be concerned about the illegal immigrants who may well change (in some measure) your country even if your ancestors were themselves illegal immigrants who changed the country as it once was.

Via Clarice Feldman.

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But America has always been a country determined to occupy a new continent and build a new country, and America has always had a shortage of affordable labor. That’s why they imported criminals and slaves to Colonial America, and that’s why –until the 1920s– we had essentially unlimited immigration.

After hundreds of years and the influx of countless unrelated groups of people, the United States, I would argue, has a tradition of pluralism and assimilation of immigrants central to its own identity. America previously allowed in all sorts of groups with conspicuously undesirable characteristics, all of whom definitely changed the culture of the country in significant ways.

Native-born Americans in generations gone by endured the Scots Irish lawlessness and propensity toward violence, German-speaking religious extremists’ refusal to assimilate or to use modern technologies, Irish drunkenness and talent for political corruption, the popery and beer garden culture of Bavarian Germans, Italian criminal conspiracies, Jewish enthusiasm for radical politics and bad art, and the general barbarism and illiteracy of representatives of essentially every variety of rural European peasantry. Previous waves of immigration brought crime and violence, political corruption, poverty and illiteracy, and enormous cultural change to America, but immigrants typically rapidly prospered and assimilated, climbing out of poverty while, in the meantime, doing all the disagreeable, dangerous, and low-paying jobs native-born Americans wouldn’t do. Their children filled the ranks of the American Armed Forces and won America’s wars.

As a grandson of turn-of-the-last-century immigrants, I strongly disagree with Mr. Volokh. I think that, as Americans and as the descendants of immigrants, we have an obligation to affirm and defend our national tradition of welcoming and assimilating other immigrants succeeding our own ancestors in turn. The “I’m aboard, Captain, pull the ladder up!” position is simply disgraceful for an American.

29 Jul 2014

Pangea

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pangaea3

28 Jul 2014

2011 Ferrari F340

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FerrariF340-1

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FerrariF340-2
Ferrari F340 Competizione, based on a true classic – the 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlineta. Only three of the original were built, by Vignale specially for the 1952 Carrera PanAmericana race, held in Mexico. With Gullwings, these were only $4,000,000.

28 Jul 2014

Libya and Barack Obama’s “Smart Diplomacy”

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Ramirez39

Walter Russell Mead admires the way the Mainstream Media looks carefully away as the Obama Administration’s “Smart Diplomacy” puts Middle Eastern countries, provinces, and WMDs into the hands of murderous fanatics. The days of the New York Times micromanaging US Foreign Policy are clearly over.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.

Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq? When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?

Some of the criticism would be exaggerated and unfair; the Monday morning quarterbacks never really understand just how complicated and tragic this poor world really is, not to mention how hard it is to make life and death decisions in real time in the center of the non-stop political firestorm that is Washington today. And the MSM attracts more than its share of deeply inexperienced but entitled, self-regarding blowhards who love to pontificate about how stupid all those poor fools who have actual jobs and responsibilities actually are.

But luckily for Team Obama, the mainstream press would rather die than subject liberal Democrats to the critiques it reserves for the GOP. So instead, as Libya writhes in agony, reputations and careers move on. The news is so bad, and the President’s foreign policy is collapsing on so many fronts, that it is impossible to keep the story off the front pages. “Smart diplomacy” has become a punch line, and the dream Team Obama had of making Democrats the go-to national security party is as dead as the passenger pigeon. But what the press can do for the White House it still, with some honorable exceptions, labors to accomplish: it will, when it must, report the dots. But it will try not to connect them, and it will do what it can to let all the people involved in the Libya debacle move on to the next and higher stage of their careers.

Read the whole thing.

28 Jul 2014

Tweet of the Month

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ArabChild

Tweet57

27 Jul 2014

Animated Gif

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