Monthly Archives: July 2018
The other day I put up the podcast link to the hundredth episode of the BBC comedy/science show “The Infinite Monkey Cage”, starring Robin Ince and physicist Brian Cox. Now the video is available to everyone, not just UK residents, and you can see go to its site by clicking on the screenshot below.
Spot the geneticist! Matthew Cobb is a VIP guest sitting in the front row.
The general view of human evolution among both scientists and laypeople is that “modern” Homo sapiens emerged from one single area in East Africa: perhaps from just a single population. That population supposedly evolved from an earlier ancestor of unknown identity—perhaps Homo erectus—underwent the transformation into the group of characters that identify our species, and then spread throughout the world. (This is independent of the evolution of what I consider other extinct subspecies of H. sapiens, like Neanderthals and Denisovans, which may have originated from single populations.)
A new paper by Eleanor Scerri and many colleagues, however, questions this conventional wisdom. The paper, an opinion piece rather than a scientific paper, appears in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (click on screenshot to see it, free with UnPaywall; the reference is at bottom, and a free pdf is here), limns what is known as the “multiregional hypothesis” for modern…
View original post 926 more words
I am indebted to Somali Bookaholic who recommended this book to me in conversation about my review of Petals of Blood. It’s a very interesting book about four British naval captains who in the mid 18th century undertook anti-slavery activity off the African coast without always having had official authority to do so.
Britain had abolished slavery, but still, there was significant trade even after the end of the American Civil War. Some of the ships involved were British operating illegally and some were French operating legally, and the persisting trade was done in collusion with African rulers and traders themselves. These local ‘diplomatic’ issues made Britain reluctant to interfere with ongoing slavery as practised in Africa and also in what was then British India, and in the Jamaican plantations. And the French involvement, whose position on slavery vacillated according to its latest revolution, was additionally complicated because interfering…
View original post 1,916 more words
This is why modern pop music sucks so bad: a song this execrable can nevertheless get a lot of press and become a hit. You can send me all the songs you want to tell me that music as good as that of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Band, Motown, and so on still exist, but just aren’t as noticed, but I’ve yet to be convinced. Rock and pop are dead, expired: they sing with the choir invisible.
The song at issue today is Ariana Grande Latte’s “God is a Woman,” a song that, to use the parlance, just “dropped.” It’s not the paean to feminism that you might expect, but rather a paean to women’s sexuality, which makes them gods. (Or rather, Grande Latte is so good at sex that she makes men believe she’s god.) As Rolling Stone noted,
The video for the tune features…
View original post 333 more words
‘We are now launching into a wide and boundless field, puzzled with mazes and o’erspread with difficulties.’
George Washington, autumn 1779
At 680 larger-than-usual pages, this is a very long, very thorough and very heavy book.
I bought it under the misapprehension that it would explain the economic and political background to the American War of Independence, which was a mistake. Almost a Miracle is a highly detailed account of the arguments about military strategy held by both sides, and on the actual battles fought during the war. In this respect its focus on the nitty-gritty of military engagements large and small – it follows straight on from the couple of books I recently read about its immediate predecessor, the Seven Years War:
View original post 4,858 more words