The Year in Review

I thought I wasn’t going to do it, but I did it. This is a year-end review of my posting on gregladen.com and scienceblogs.com.

The posts are selected on the basis if how much I liked them, how much I liked them in relation to how much you reacted to them (some posts, I think, were burried by circumstances and overlooked, and this is my chance to rekindle interest in them) and in some cases, simply how much reaction they caused.

Two topics are not included in this list: Framing and Homeschooling. This is partly because they would have swamped out all the other posts, and partly because no single framing or homeschooling post stands on it’s own. So, if you want to review these topics, click on any of these links:

gregladen.com on Framing

gregladen.com on homeschooling

Remember, these posts will be listed in reverse chronological order, as is the way with blogs. You should read them, however, in chronological order. If you want to read them. (You’d have to be a bit of a freak to do that, probably.)

January

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Sex Difference in Sex Drive

According to a story in the last issue of Psychological Science, “… for most women, high sex drive is associated with increased sexual attraction to both men and women. For men, however, high sex drive is associated with increased sexual attraction to only one sex or the other, depending on the individual’s sexual orientation. These results suggest that the correlates of sex drive and the organization of sexual orientation are different for women and men.”

My Take on Hanoi Jane

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I am a person who was against the Viet Nam War but who during the last days of the war counted among my friends many Viet Nam War vets. I never for a moment considered the possibility of blaming these men for the war. I don’t recall anyone I knew at the time doing this. Sure, it may have happened, but I think this was probably a hyped-up media scam promoted by war hawks at the time, or a post-hoc reconstruction fostered (festered?) by the right wing. Many, many of the people I worked with in various organizations against the war were vets, many former officers. This view that it was the protesters against the vets is nothing I ever saw or heard of at the time.

February

Got milk (alleles)?

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As you probably know, everyone should drink milk. Lots and lots and lots of milk. All your life. Or so says the American Dairy Industry, often using those sexy posters of famous people with milk smeared on their faces. … The truly amazing thing about those posters is that the people in them more often than not seem to have an ethnic identity that I, as a trained Biological Anthropologist (and thus keeper of this sort of knowledge) can easily see contraindicates milk consumption.

Why Scientists are NOT AS GOOD as Creationists …

The usual argument is as follows: Scientists are not good at communicating with the general public; they can’t simplify the complexities of what they study; they can’t make themselves clear. … I don’t accept that scientists are no good at communicating with the public or at simplifying complexities. …

March

Marta’s (good) questions, Greg’s (oft’ lame) answers: Bonobos?

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She was sitting there in class two weeks ago and exploded. She does not know that I know this, but I noticed it happen. Since she was sitting, as usual, in the front row, and it was all in her face, the other students did not see it but I definitely did….

By “exploding” in this case I mean that her brain suddenly filled with unanswered questions, which she then started sending me in frantic emails. Many of these questions are about things we will eventually get to in class, but some are on issues that we won’t touch on at all. I decided, and I received her kind permission to do this, to answer her questions by blogging them. This way I get to kill two birds with one stone, which is usually a good thing (unless of course you are the second bird).

Mammals and the KT Event

The KT boundary event is the moment in time when a ca. 10 km. diameter object going very fast hit the earth in the vicinity of the modern Yucatan, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs (and almost everything else larger than a microwave). It has been suggested that this event resulted in (allowed for) the subsequent diversification of the mammals, presumably because the earlier extinction event opened up previously filled niches, into which the mammals evolved, and possibly because of dramatic climate change that occurred with this event….One of the reasons that this [new] study is important is that it seems to falsify this long-standing hypothesis.

April

Essence Carson is my hero

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Essence Carson is the captain of the Rugers Women’s Basketball Team. I just watched the bulk of the news conference with the team’s coach and the entire team fielding questions from the press about Don Imus’s latest efforts to prove that he is an unredeemable racist sexist shit. Carson took on most of the questions for the team, and demonstrated intelligence, sensitivity, humor, creativity and thoughtfulness that you will probably find in the top 1% of Rutgers University as a whole. (I’m including faculty here, by the way.) … I don’t know what her major is, but I think she should get the job of running CBS and/or MSNBC after she graduates. Or even before. I wonder if she can start tomorrow.

May

Is there an atheist in the House?

Have you seen the TV show House? I like the show. I try to get the diagnosis before Dr. House figures it out, and on evenings when I use the internet I sometimes succeed. Also, he has a nirvana-like personality. He has achieved perfect assholeosity. I wouldn’t want to work for or with him, but it’s fun to watch on TV.

Long Live the Creation Museum!

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I am so happy that they are making a creation museum. Not because I am a creationist. I’m not a creationist. People who believe in creationism are doing something either mind numbingly stupid or moderately intelligent. …

June

Child abuse in the name of god

Hitting your children is abuse. Regular hitting of your children perpetuates this abuse into the next generation. Our modern civilized society shuns this behavior, though it is still practiced by an alarming number of individuals….PZ Myers writes about Joey Salvati, who has started a business whereby he sells paddles, and provides instructions on how to use them, to facilitate this form of abuse. The instructions also support this abusive behavior in two other ways: First, it systematizes it in the context of “love” … making it seem like the right thing to do … and second it is claimed that the specifics … the design details of the paddle as well as the mode and method of use … were conveyed to him … to Joey Salvati … by god. In the shower.

July

I was in South Africa … not doing too much blogging.

August

Don’t send me DOCX files …

This morning someone sent me a DOCX file as an attachment to an email. It was an innocent thing … the guy who sent it was only following orders, and did not know what he was doing. But it was an offensive act, and the only reason he does not look very naive, possibly stupid, for having done this is because it is a new problem and not everyone knows about it. So I’ll let it go this time around but it really can’t happen again.

September

Racist Racing Model Stumbles

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On one hand, everyone knows that the differences between humans that are often categorized as “racial traits” are either overstated or irrelevant. All humans have essentially the same basic potentials, and the genetic differences that do exist between people are not sorted out by the usual racial categories. Not even the differences that are foundational to those racial categories sort out by racial categories particularly well. By and large, racial categories are cultural fictions vaguely supported by quirky historical circumstances. On close examination they are not real. … On the other hand, it has become fairly common to attribute a select few true racial traits to certain races. The most common is the obvious genetic superiority of Africans in areas of sports….

Creation Museum Gets its Way

Kids: If you want a new toy GI Joe, demand a pony. Your parents will come up with a plan to appease you. Perhaps they’ll suggest a GI Joe toy. You’ll “settle” for the GI Joe and be happy. I learned that sneaky lesson from the God People at the Kentucky Creation Museum.

October

James Watson: Please bend over while I kick your freakin ass.

It is now time to kick James Watson’s ass….The man is a terrible embarrassment to us all. (“Us” being scientists and rational types.) It is said by the press that Watson “makes his colleagues cringe when he goes off script” or “is known for making controversial remarks” and so on. Fine. But these are not apt descriptors for James Watson’s most recent remarks or, for that matter, many of his earlier remarks. No, not at all. These descriptors make Watson sound like a somewhat crazy free thinking guy who doesn’t care if he pisses off a few people with what he says. But that is not what he is at all….No. James Watson is, simply put, a moron. I want to take a moment to explain why I think that.

How Young is the Grand Canyon?

To answer that question briefly, it is really really old if you mean “how old are the oldest rocks that are exposed by the Grand Canyon,” and it is probably just a few million years old (5 or 6 by some estimates) if you mean “how long did the canyon itself take to form.” … But Creationists, of course, have a different story …

November

Framing the Language Gene: FOXP2

While the paper by Krause et al is an important contribution because it involves allele-level comparison of nucleic genetic material between hominid groups and across living and extinct forms, the role of FOXP2 and the characterization of the genetics of language may be misleading, if not simply very very wrong.

Elephants Are Not Ethnic-Blind

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…I’ve traveled literally hundreds of kilometers by foot together with Efe (Pygmy) hunters in the Ituri Forest. We see very few animals. The few we do see are attacked, killed, and eaten….But I’ve also traveled many kilometers … alone. I would see many animals, and yes, they would run (or climb or whatever) away, but not as desperately. They knew I was not really one of the hunters, although I tried my best to look tough and hungry.

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The 1920s. It was a sad, sad time in America. All the biologists got together and, inspired by Darwinian writings, embarked on a campaign to sterilize those they perceived as unfit, the campaign known to us as Eugenics. From Eugenics grew other evils, such as Planned Parenthood, Modern Evolutionary Biology, and The Nazis. … Or so intoned John West of the Creationist Discovery Institute, in a talk ending just moments ago at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus.

December

Roland Martin, sorry to offend, but you are an offensive dit

The name Roland Martin reminds me of Rowan and Martin. I’m pretty sure that is why Rowan S. Martin uses the “S.” .. so people don’t think of Rowan and Martin when they hear his name….Rowan and Martin were funny in their day. Roland S. Martin is not funny. Yet it is hard to not laugh at the guy.

Gloves, Mittens, Socks, Quarks and Alternative Universes. It all makes so much sense…

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…as is well known, most of the time socks seem to disappear from your dryer, but every now and then, seemingly inexplicably (but explained clearly by my theory), an “alien” sock … a sock looking much like an earthling sock, but on further examination with no known earthy source of manufacture … appears in your drier….Many, many of the individual mittens and gloves one sees lying about the highway are the same. They are alien mittens and gloves that have shifted here from another, parallel, universe….

The Bible-Thumping Grinch who Pissed on Christmas

I am amazed at the giddiness amongst Christian Fundamentalists that has fomented from the mere utterance of a holiday greeting by Richard Dawkins. The counter-insurgents in the War on Christmas … the Red White and Blue, squeaky-faced smirking shits that call themselves commentators or preachers are creaming in their jeans. But they are also stepping over the line, and I’m calling them on it….

Michigan State U: Look out for this

The Michigan State University (MSU) chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) has announced that it will be hosting a lecture by Jared Taylor in March. Taylor, who is not particularly well-known in the mainstream, is a prominent racist who’s New Century Foundation and American Renaissance publication are devoted to pursuing “scientific” justifications for racism.

Details here, and here.

Linux Rules

From Slashot:“Computers and handheld devices running default GNU Linux or Unix OSes have swept Amazon’s ‘best of’ list for 2007, according BusinessWire.com for 28 December 2007. Best selling computer? The Nokia Internet Tablet PC, running Linux. Best reviewed computer? The Apple MacBook Pro notebook PC. Most wished for computer? Asus Eee 4G-Galaxy 7-inch PC mobile Internet device, which comes with Xandros Linux pre-installed. And last, but not least, the most frequently gifted computer: The Apple MacBook notebook PC.”wOOt!!!

I told you so … open source is better.

You can’t use closed source proprietary software such as Mathematica for research because that would cause there to be a Black Box in your Research Methodology?But you didn’t listen.Now, Miquel Pais (via the Quantum Pontiff) reports a bug in Mathematica that can’t be understood because you can’t look under the hood.This is a disaster. But not an unexpected disaster.You must now all switch to Open Source software for your research purposes. I’m not kidding. Get on that right away.That is all.

Netscape is dead. Long live Netscape.

i-037fa43af020a2260e00ee2ff73f0fc0-netscape.jpgNetscape was the first browser. Then came along Internet Explorer, and Microsoft did all sorts of evil things to Netscape to run it out of existence. But it didn’t work. Netscape continued to exist, and along the way, AOL acquired Netscape as a commercial product, and Mozilla branched off of Netscape as an Open Source product. Mozilla gave birth to Firefox and Swiftfox, and today, Firefox or some form of it rules. Open Source Wins.Today, AOL has announced that it will no longer develop Netscape.We can get all weepy and worried about this event, but is is actually incredibly good news. Netscape ushered in, facilitated, caused, whatever adjective you like, both Internet Browsing (which is still there) and the Mozilla Open Source project, which is still there. The fact that the commercial fork of this long and intense effort is the part that is being retired is the best possible outcome.The browser is dead. Long live the browser.