Monthly Archives: August 2009

Explaining the Spread of Agriculture into Europe

The practice of growing food and keeping livestock was invented numerous times throughout the world. One ‘center’ of agriculture is said to be the Middle East. Despite the fact that calling the Middle East a “center” in this context is a gross oversimplification, it is true that agriculture was practiced in Anatolia and the Levant for quite some time before it was practiced in Europe, and it seems that the practice more or less spread from the middle east across Europe over a fairly long period of time.

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A Falsehood: The poor and the dark skinned have more babies than the rich and the light skinned

Good morning and welcome to another installment of “The Falsehoods.” Today’s falsehood is the assertion that the poor have more babies than the rich, or that the poor just have more babies to begin with. In comparison to … whatever.

Continue reading A Falsehood: The poor and the dark skinned have more babies than the rich and the light skinned

“Ignorance of how evolution works is amazing to behold” … or, Happy Birthday Mike!

That’s The Mike, of Tangled Up in Blue Guy, and Quiche Moraine.

The title of this post, “Ignorance of how evolution works is amazing to behold. ” is a quote from one of my favorite (recent) posts by TUIB Guy, which is called: The Agony and The Irony. A close second is Logic and Perspective. Please stop over at Mike’s blog, wish him a happy birthday, and have a look at these posts.


Why I like the State-Fair even though most of my friends don’t

I’m not entirely sure which of my friends and relatives like the Minnesota State Fair and which don’t. In some cases it is quite clear. If you are my facebook friend, you know that John Funk thinks the State Fair is what Hell would be like, and Stephanie Zvan revels in being a Bad Minnesotan because she does not participate in The Great Minnesotan Get Together (as it is called). If you are NOT my Facebook friend, then click here.


I can fully understand why people would not like the State Fair. In fact, I’m rather surprised that I like it. This is surely the sort of thing that I would not normally like, yet I do. On reflection, the reasons turn out to be rather personal. So, if you don’t want to explore this personal stuff, don’t go below the fold where I tell you what those reasons are.
Continue reading Why I like the State-Fair even though most of my friends don’t

Major Upgrade for Goddard Climate Simulation Machine

In August, Goddard added 4,128 new-generation Intel “Nehalem” processors to its Discover high-end computing system. The upgraded Discover will serve as the centerpiece of a new climate simulation capability at Goddard. Discover will host NASA’s modeling contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading scientific organization for assessing climate change, and other national and international climate initiatives.

And they’re adding another 4,128 in a couple of months. This will be the first major. Nehalem based climate simulation project. Details here.

Income, IQ, and profession

Research from Bristol:

Doctors and lawyers are more likely to come from wealthy backgrounds according to new research from the Department of Economics that indicates that the ‘social gap’ that prevents poorer people from entering the top professions is becoming more pronounced over time.

Using data on family income and IQ in childhood drawn from the National Child Development Survey (NCDS), which tracks a representative sample of the population born in 1958, and the British Cohort Study (BCS), which follows people born in 1970, the research shows that professions such as law and medicine attract better-off people, compared with other professions such as teaching and nursing, although differences in IQ test scores for the former decreased over time.

On the other hand, those who became engineers and nurses – two professions with the lowest average family incomes across the groups and the lowest IQ scores for those born in 1958 – appear to buck this trend with the average IQ scores for both professions increasing over time.

Press release continues here.

Bachmann’s Town Hall

I did not go to the Michele Bachmann “town hall” meeting yesterday because of a schedule conflict (I was out of town) but there is some news. Check out the last few posts on Dump Michele Bachmann blog. There is evidence, apparently, that Bachmann supporters were bussed in to pack the room. I’ve heard from two other private sources, one from inside and one from outside, that there were mostly supporters inside and mostly anti-Bachmann people outside.

I expect there to be a couple of good blog posts out about this in the next day or so, and I’ll point to them if I find out about them. Add any to the comments below, please.

I also expect that most of the people inside the hall were Dittohead Lockstep Republicans and most of the people outside the hall were Discordant Democrats.

Tiniest Photograph Ever Explained

I posted a photo of a itty bitty molecule that is making the news these days … the photo, not the molecule … but I didn’t have much to say about it except that it was cool. Ethan Siegel has picked up the thread and explains what it is we are looking at.

I myself have used the little needle thingie in research, but the tip of the one I used was more like an actual needle made of a zillion metal molecules so we could only image things like primate teeth or cut marks on bones. This one is a little different…