Daily Archives: January 5, 2009

Linnaeus’ Legacy No. 15: Sorting it all out

This is my favorite web carnival, and this is the best version of it yet, owing to the outstanding submission we have this month!

i-bc0d46e81351a3a74cabd227fd2d5fa5-darwintree2.gifWelcome to the 15th Monthly edition of the blog carnival Linnaeus’ Legacy. I thought about being cute and fancy for this edition of the carnival, but instead, I decided to be very systematic.

(de – dum – dum)

So we will work our way from foundations to theory to taxonomy, and within the taxonomic sphere we will sort out all the organisms by type and deal with them as such appropriately. And then, we will have one little item related to extinction. The place where diversification ends.

On with the show:
Continue reading Linnaeus’ Legacy No. 15: Sorting it all out

Adolph Hitler: So cute you just want to pinch his fat little cheeks….

i-850fb45e48b92f9cdb4f5976adfb825f-child_named_adolph_hitler_by_WS_parents.jpgHeath and Deborah Campbell had three children. They named them:

  • JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell
  • Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell
  • Adolf Hitler Campbell

That, right there, would be child abuse. Do you not agree?

The story is making the rounds (h/t: McDuff) because it is little Adolph’s third birthday and the local shop-rite (supermarket) refuses to provide the family with a cake enscribed “Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler.”

The story can be found here and here.

The Senator Larry Craig Gay Sex Bathroom Stall Is NOT For Sale!

This important story was broken by the Minnesota Independent.

The agency that runs the airport refused an apparently serious offer to buy the men’s room stall made famous by Craig’s 2007 conviction for disorderly conduct in a sex-solicitation sting operation by the airport police. The Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) spurned the $5,000 offer, which arrived by certified mail, according to MAC spokesperson Patrick Hogan.

Details are here.

And here is some related video content. Includes explicit demonstration of gay sex solicitation toe tapping.

The Minnesota Recount is Over

As many of you have already heard, the recount process in Minnesota to determine the outcome of the Senatorial race is over, and Al Franken has been certified as winner.

There is now a review period of seven days during which any voter in the state of Minnesota. Including me, Al Franken, whomever, can sue for an Election Challenge. Although both Secretary of State Ritchie and I have expressed the opinion that Norm Coleman, who lost the race, is unlikely to issue such a challenge, the press and even Coleman’s lawyers have suggested that a challenge will in fact be filed by three o’clock tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

However, you know the following is true: The best chance Coleman has to turn what he calls Franken’s “Artificial Lead” around is from a set of 650 as yet uncounted rejected absentee ballots. There are two things working against Coleman in regards to these ballots. First, the process is over and they were not counted. Asking for them to be counted is not a matter of bringing in something new. They have already been not-counted by a process determined by the same court to which Coleman would issue the challenge, and some members of that court were also on the canvassing board that certified the election this afternoon. So the chances of a challenge being accepted by this court is easily estimated at zero point zero zero zero. Or less.

Second, in order for Al Franken’s official 225 vote lead to be erased by counting these absentee ballots, there would have to be a very strong bias in these 650 ballots that Coleman wants counted. I calculate that there is about a two to three percent probability that counting these votes would change the outcome in Coleman’s favor. That may seem like a lot, but the chances of having the votes being counted to begin with is about zero.

Coleman really has two choices: Proceed with the challenge and end his political career or don’t proceed and have a chance of continuing in Minnesota politics.

Which, I would guess, would involve his run for governor in two years. As a democrat, of course.

A Cultural Climate Measure from Iron Age Africa

i-41ee9e6a4ec31bd042e17ed4cfdd7282-cattle_africa.jpgSouth of the Zambezi River, along the eastern side of Africa, things get dryer and dryer as you go south, until you finally reach the southernmost end of the continent where things become a little bit moister again.

A couple of thousand years ago cattle keeping people speaking Bantu languages and possessing mainly Banutu cultural traits … the ancestors of the present day Shona, Venda Tswana, Zulu, etc. …. were living in this area, keeping their cattle, and doing all sorts of interesting stuff.

As climate fluctuated year to year and decade to decade, there moved north and south a kind of line … an uneven line following topography and affected by numerous other forces, a line as hard to define or keep track of as the shadow of a train running down the track, cast on the nearby forest … that determined where, if you were a Bantu cattle keeping group, you could live vs. not live. This was essentially the line that divided areas wet enough for enough of the year to reliably grow sufficient grass for the cattle to graze (to the north, more or less) vs. areas where the rainfall was insufficient, or insufficiently regular, for this to happen (to the south, more or less).

ResearchBlogging.orgIt stands to reason that cultures that lived near this line would experience significant fluctuations in all sorts of areas of life. Cattle meant food, but cattle also meant wealth. This line could be though of as a sort of depression/recession vs. good economy line. Imagine such a line wafting back and forth across Europe. One day you are on the correct side of the line and everything is fine, then a couple of years later the line moves and the country you live in is destine to experience two or three decades in which the money is always worth a tenth of what it otherwise might be worth.

So what’s a culture to do? Invent religion, of course! Or, more realistically, adapt the religious modality to at least attempt to address variability in rainfall.

Well, the modern cultures of the region have ritual practices that many believe can be seen in the archaeological record, and some of those practices involve rain (or the lack thereof). And this has led to a very interesting research outcome about to be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Continue reading A Cultural Climate Measure from Iron Age Africa