453 thoughts on “Open Thread For September”

    1. Huh. I’ve been nursing/working around a persistent Achilles tendon injury for at least the last 20 years. Too much leaping around on the tennis court or pounding on the treadmill and it flares up; ease off it for a while and it subsides again.

      I always put it down to me being like a Greek demi-god. I think I still prefer that explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Jennifer Raff fires early on the Denisovan morphology paper, and I think does a good job of explaining it in terms that lay readers can understand, and fending off a lot of ill directed criticism of it, but I think she has overshot on the Xuchang skulls – everything I have seen about those skulls (and one set of remains is only fragments of the top of a skull) is that they are fossils, i.e. no DNA or proteins can be recoverable. It would be good if that is wrong, but it doesn’t look like it is. The authors of the Denisovan morphology paper said as much.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, Qiaomei Fu tried three times, and she knows what she is doing – trained in Reich’s lab.

        Seems like a lot of people including Chris Stringer wants to call them Denisovans because “everything fits” but, out of scientific rigour, they can’t because what defines a Denisovan is only known from a genome, or has been up until now.

        But with this latest paper on Denisovan morphology, they’ve crept a bit closer to it.

        One has very large brain volume, 1800 cc, upper limit of Neanderthals and modern humans.


  2. I may not get the spelling right but Guo Jianmei has received the Right Livelihood Award for her work for womens rights in China.
    Greta Thunberg is one of the other three to receive the award.
    NB Swedish TV presenter Arne Weise has died.
    Donald Trump has foolishly released the transcript of his phone conversation with the Ukrainan leader, thus implicating himself for two separate crimes.


  3. Steppe ancestry has been found in remains from a burial (a gender differentiated mass grave – females on one side, males on the other) in Switzerland dating to 3,300 BC. That seems very early; earlier than any known Steppe ancestry in Germany.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Still, no one knows where the Etruscans came from. They were not strongly genetically differentiated from the surrounding Italic tribes, but spoke a non-Indo-European language. The Roman Emperor Claudius wrote a book on the Etruscan language (lost to antiquity). One of his wives was Etruscan.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, and I thought that had solved the mystery, but it seems it has since been disproven. Now, no one I have seen subscribes to that theory. They show very little genetic difference from surrounding people in Italy (I mean ancient remains, not modern people), and Italy is unusual in Europe in the amount of genetic differentiation there is e.g. between modern northern and southern Italians.

        The complication is that genes from Neolithic people in Anatolia are of course represented, but they are represented in all Europeans, because that’s where Neolithic farming cultures in Europe came from – migration of farmers (families, not male-mediated, + domesticated animals) from Anatolia into Europe.

        And Etruscans in Italy were really very recent, only 750 BC onwards, so they migrated to Italy from somewhere else in Europe – some say from Switzerland, others say from France. If from Switzerland, it would mean that ancestors of Etruscans speaking a non-IE language co-existed with IE speaking people there for more than 2,000 years. That seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but you get strange things happening in very mountainous terrain, with people isolated from each other in different valleys separated by physical barriers.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Plus I think that study was more than a couple of years ago, if it is what I think you are referring to – back in the period when people were trying to trace population movements by Y and mtDNA. No one does that anymore, because it can be very misleading, and sequencing is cheap enough that they can use aDNA – whole genomes, which tends to give a much more complicated picture. There are lots of examples among ancient people where males were migrating in one direction while females were migrating in the opposite direction, which on one level seems pretty amusing to me, but it makes a mess of your hypotheses when you are trying to track population movements.

        “Steppe Ancestry Reached Switzerland Before Germany; Implications For Etruscan Origins.”

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity around 312 CE. By the end of the 4th century, his imperial successors had given Christianity monopoly power over religion throughout the Roman Empire (for reasons that were as much political as theological). Around 392, Emperor Theodosius made Nicene Christianity the official religion of the empire, severely restricting all other forms of worship.

    Other religions didn’t disappear overnight, though. Roughly half the empire was still non-Christian when Theodosius issued his decrees, and the emperor didn’t have the resources to enforce his will everywhere. But Christian clerics knew they had been given a green light to persecute any religious practices other than their own. So the more fanatical ones (and there were quite a few fanatical ones) encouraged Christian mobs to destroy pagan temples and harass pagan luminaries.

    One of the more spectacular acts of destruction (described in detail by the author) occurred in Alexandria, where the local bishop set off a bloody brawl when he paraded pagan artifacts through the streets, mocking them along the way. A mini-war ensued between Alexandria’s pagan and Christian populations (their younger male contingents, at any rate). During the fighting, a Christian mob sacked the Serapeum, the city’s most magnificent pagan temple, destroying or carrying off its richest treasures.

    And so it went, sporadically at least, for decades. That’s an important point to keep in mind if you want to understand the history of this period. The Roman Empire’s transition to Christianity was not peaceful or inevitable. And for many, it was not voluntary. Christianity did not unite the empire (as Constantine may have hoped when he converted). Instead, by imposing heretic-hunting monotheism, it added a major element of conflict to an already unstable world.”

    The Christian narrative is that they were horribly persecuted by the pagan Romans (but a lot of those claims are false). They conveniently leave out the Christian persecution of pagans.

    So, when contemplating forced conversions to Islam, it’s as well to observe that Christians were doing it long before they were.

    Interestingly (or not), around 392 was when the Ethiopian Orthodox Church came into existence, administered from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria. It was finally granted its own patriarch in 1959.


  6. Seems like a lot of chess lovers worship Vassily Ivanchuk as a living god. He has never been world champion, but has a record of beating world champions. Allegedly he is the only player that Kasparov was scared of. He makes a lot of weird moves that no one else would make, and sometimes seems to have done that just to infuriate Kasparov, Karpov, etc., and they lost concentration so badly that it threw them off and they ended up resigning, almost in exasperation.

    He’s getting on now, past the age when chess players are at their best (they peak early and decline pretty fast), but still playing at a high level. Don’t know if he has played Carlsen. I guess if I keep haunting the chess sites I will find out sooner or later. Can’t deny Carlsen’s current dominance, but I don’t like the way he plays. He’s aware that Fischer wound up becoming mentally ill and very strange (but was treated shamefully and very vindictively by the American government/law enforcement authorities and lived what was left of his life in exile in Finland to avoid prosecution for using his US passport after the Americans cancelled it because he played somewhere in the former Yugoslavia when it was officially ‘out of bounds’ to American citizens – must be great living in the Land of the Free), as have some other great players, and knows it’s something he needs to be aware of, but it seems a bit to me that he might already be becoming a bit ‘off’ mentally. But then, I don’t know how someone can preserve sanity if they constantly live and breathe chess, think about it in every waking moment and even dream about it. Which is what you need to do to become any good at it.


    1. Yes, he has played Carlsen. First time they drew, second time Ivanchuk beat Carlsen, but it was right down to the wire. End game, Carlsen had only a rook left and Ivanchuk had a rook and a pawn, and Carlsen resigned because he could see he had no way to prevent Ivanchuk from converting his pawn to a queen, after which he would of course win. That was when Carlsen was 22, so at his peak, and Ivanchuk was 44, so should be well past his peak. But Carlsen won that tournament and Ivanchuk came second last – he’s patchy; seems to get bored and retreat inside his head, but playing against the best is maybe enough of a challenge to get his concentration. Possibly already a bit nuts.

      Looks now like Carlsen might be slipping towards it – says his confidence is shot, at the ripe old age of 28.


    1. That’s very cool. Of course infants are lactose tolerant, so it makes sense that people weaned them onto animal milk. And one thing about lactose tolerance is that (at least modern northern/western Europeans) can maintain it indefinitely if they keep drinking milk, but they can lose it at a certain point if they don’t, and can’t get it back. What I don’t know is whether that applied to infants weaned onto animal milk back then.

      I had a Chinese friend who was an infant in Malaysia during the WWII Japanese occupation, his mother dried up, and cow, goat, buffalo or sheep milk was just totally unavailable. But his family had a bitch who’d had pups, so they milked the dog and kept him alive with dog’s milk. As an adult he was very worried about whether this might have some adverse effect on him. I doubt it. But he died of stomach cancer in his 50s. Never smoked, never drank, nothing like that. His doctor just put it down to bad luck, and knowing him he was certain to have told the doctor about the dog’s milk – he told absolutely everyone, seeking their opinion on whether it might have harmed him in some way. Well, he looked a bit like a pug, but that was probably coincidence.

      A lot of Japanese get stomach cancer, which some attribute to them eating a lot of pickled vegetables, but you hear a lot of just so stories like that. It doesn’t seem to be one of the biggies in Western populations, or Chinese populations generally. Or Koreans, that I know of, but then they eat lots of chili with their kimchi, and chili consumption is thought to be protective against cancer of the digestive system, although no one really understands why.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, could be. My dog was strictly a carnivore, but she was a dingo and lacked the enzymes that domesticated dogs have evolved for digesting cereals from living alongside humans, let alone any kind of other vegetable. Which is a kind of interesting thing about dingoes. I have never seen that mentioned anywhere in relation to dingoes. Sample of one, but I’m assuming she was typical of dingoes – they don’t touch any kind of vegetable matter in the wild. But she was crazy about milk and eggs, which had no adverse effects on her – she would really go for a raw egg in a bowl of milk. So she got all of the eggs and milk which had started to go ‘off’, and was very happy to get them.

        She also got invited into the house as a convenient vacuum cleaner if anyone dropped anything made of meat, eggs or milk on the floor – forget the mop, just get in the dingo.

        She would very occasionally eat grass, but that was self-medicating – it would make her vomit. I don’t know if domestic dogs do that as well – maybe.


  7. Ivanchuk Plays A Weird Move Just to Annoy Kasparov.

    I think I would be willing to do just about anything to annoy Kasparov. I saw a clip of him eating roast chicken once, when he was having dinner with Peter Thiel. He attacked the chicken like some voracious animal. Besides, he was being buddy-buddy with Thiel. I give Peter Thiel one solitary point for taking down Gawker, but that’s all.

    Ivanchuk has an amazing brain, to see that far ahead and figure out a seemingly innocuous move like that. I’ve watched some of his other games, and similarly seemingly innocuous moves have won him the games, whether through just annoying his opponent or not, I can’t really judge. I have to rely on the mad Russian commentator, because I’m shit at chess, but not quite as shit as I used to be before I started watching a lot of games at this level.


  8. Former French president Jaques Chirac dies, at 86.
    He was a corrupt tosser, but at least he kept France out of the Gulf war.


  9. Lotta shit been goin’ down in Denisova Cave.

    Hominin and animal activities in the microstratigraphic record from Denisova Cave (Altai Mountains, Russia).

    Reinforces that hominin occupation of cave was very intermittent, likely at the extreme eastern extent of Neanderthal range, extreme western extent of Denisovan range, and marginal at best for hominin habitation for much of the time (but some periods of long term hominin occupation), and not at all when occupied by large obligate carnivores and bears (which would also not cohabit). But it did yield a bone from ‘Denny’, a teenage girl who was a first generation Neanderthal-Denisovan hybrid. What a find that was – self-evidently, first generation hybrids are going to be very rare discoveries. The slow sedimentation rates and mobility of sediments limits how much information can be usefully extracted from the sediment record. What else?


    1. “The cave was visited sporadically by hominins, who appeared not to have been prolific users of fire, at least in the Middle Palaeolithic deposits that constitute the majority of the Pleistocene sequence.”

      Weird. Neanderthals and/or Denisovans didn’t use fire much? (Well, at least not within the cave – there could be reasons related to ventilation for that. You can’t actually use fires much in caves except close to the entrances; torches to go deep into caves, but not hearths. Am I right?)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “Strong adverse reaction to Greta Thunberg in Germany.”

      References, please?

      My impression is that everywhere there are people who support her and people who don’t support her. Your claim makes it sound like there is less support in Germany than elsewhere. My own impression, as someone living here, is that this is not the case.


      1. Several German government ministers criticized her speech not long after she made it. Also, there has been a strong adverse reaction from people working in Germany’s automobile industry.

        You should know those things better than I do. Now quit bugging me.


      2. Who pissed in your cornflakes?

        It would be hard to find a better example of a troll: A statement is made with no supporting evidence. Polite requests are met with ad-hominem attacks, and still no evidence is provided, merely more heresay. I’m pretty sure that “several German government ministers” didn’t criticize it. The burden is on you to provide proof, as one cannot prove a negative. And that some in the auto industry have a different take on things is a no-brainer. But, whether ministers or auto workers (note that most countries in the world do not build cars), where is any evidence that it is more in Germany than elsewhere? If there is none, why did you single out Germany? Should I post “cases of pedophilia among ex-pats in Hong Kong”? I’m sure that there are some, so it is true, but if you can’t see why it wouldn’t be good to claim that, then you need serious help.

        I definitely know these things better than you: I live in the country, I speak the language, I follow the discussion. It seems that you rely on Breitbart for your “news and information”. My Norwegian course spent two hours yesterday discussing Greta. The teacher originally wanted to have a debate, but that didn’t work because no-one was opposed to her.

        While I think that Martin might want to delete offensive comments or even turn on comment moderation if this keeps up, I hope that he leaves this thread here for all to see, in particular who bugs whom.


      3. Gerd Müller, the minister of economic cooperation and development, criticized her. So did conservative MPs Roderich Kiesewetter and Jana Schimke, while the political left was supportive. The original news story I saw also quoted some other conservative Government ministers, but I am now unable to find it. Given that a German government minister spoke critically about her to the press, I am surprised to learn from you that the German mass media seem not to have reported it.

        Obviously a very large number of people are employed in the automobile industry in Germany, there is concern about losing their jobs, and there is a very strong adverse reaction to her speech from that sector. I would have thought the German mass media would have picked that up as well, but I guess not.

        While on the subject, it’s worth noting that after her speech, Macron criticized her as well, calling her “divisive”, in an address to the UN. France also has a large automotive industry.

        The Australian Prime Minister did not make direct reference to her or her speech, but made a very defensive speech to the UN General Assembly about Australia’s action on climate change (while busily flogging Australia’s coal reserves to anyone who will buy them).

        But I take due note that your Norwegian class is wholly supportive, or at least not willing to say anything against her, which is not the same thing. That is certainly newsworthy, and I can’t think why the international media have not reported it.


      4. “Thunberg and 15 other youth activists filed a legal complaint with the UN on Monday, accusing France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey of not doing enough to combat climate change.” That was reported by Bloomberg on 24 September.


      5. Thunberg and Trump have both been nominated and short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize.

        Also shortlisted is Nathan Law, a HK serial protester who has already served a prison term for previous criminal acts of public violence. ‘Peace Prize’ and ‘public violence’ seem to me to be incompatible, but what do I know?


  10. “Australia has a moral duty to engage with the global challenge of providing quality education to hundreds of millions of Indian youth.”

    Um…what? How about Australia’s moral duty to provide quality education to its own youth, and to close the education gap for indigenous youth? Sometimes I just don’t get these tenured academics with particular self-interested axes to grind. This guy is a Professor of Development Geography, whatever the hell that is.

    The only Indian youth who can aspire to education in Australia are the scions of very wealthy Indian families, and they are frantically being targeted by Australian universities as full fee paying students to keep the universities solvent, now that Mainland Chinese student enrolments, currently the largest of the overseas student contingents, have started to drop precipitously as a result of deteriorating relations between Australia and China. So Australia is now trying to cosy up to India, despite its right wing extremist government.


  11. “Development geography is a branch of geography which refers to the standard of living and its quality of life of its human inhabitants.” Oh. I wonder how much time he spends concerning himself with his moral duty to focus on remote indigenous communities. Probably not much, given that it is evident in this case that he considers Australia’s “moral duty” arises from potential commercial gain.

    I think in political parlance that’s called “spin.”


  12. British Foreign Secretary finally gets it; calls on parliament to join him in condemning the recent violence in Hong Kong “from a minority of those engaged in those protests”.

    However, he also said “it is becoming increasingly clear that there are criminal gangs involved, and it is not clear entirely what their links may or may not be with the various administrations”. I’m totally mystified by that; no idea what he is referring to.


  13. Cont’d: “Frankly, wherever those incursions or erosions or impingements come, we will call them out.” Also weird – I look forward with interest to what he might have to say about that. Incursions, erosions or impingements – must mean something to him, but I’m mystified.


    1. Before watching that rant, I had never heard of Billie Eilish. After watching that rant, I now know that (1) she’s female and (2) she has a video which has allegedly received at least 451M views on Youtube. Is she any good? Good enough to have a video go viral on YouTube, if Coach Dave’s claim is correct, but Dave doesn’t show us any excerpts from that video–probably, if he did, his audience might even question his assertion that the video is the Devil’s work.

      I have a guess about Ms. Eilish’s ethnic background, but that guess is purely based on priors from my knowing what musical genres people like Coach Dave have ranted about in the past.


      1. Judging only from her song “Bad Guy”, I’d say Billie Eilish is a highly talented musician and song writer with the makings of a long solid career. Jrette likes her.


      2. I looked up Coach Dave on Youtube. Two minutes was a lot more than enough.

        I think one thing we can agree on is that Eilish is not channeling Satan. Or as she says in Bad Guy – Duh.


  14. In the film Dracula Untold, Vlad Tepes consults Charles Dance (Tyrion Lannister) for advice. It is a rather tense scene.
    The film would have deserved a bigger audience.
    In “Blinded By The Sun”, Pakistan teenagers in 1987’s Britain listen to rock. I have not seen it but the film has good reviews.


  15. Film on Netflix: Inferno (2016), starring Tom Hanks and the achingly beautiful Felicity Jones. The title refers to Dante’s Inferno. Silly convoluted plot, and laboriously constructed mystery and suspense, but the film is eye candy because it is set in Florence, Venice and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, with all of the fascination of Renaissance and Byzantine buildings – that alone makes it worth watching. It also illustrates graphically the excessive tourism being suffered by such centres, Venice in particular.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Statistician Sean Harrison who works in epidemiology provides a wonderful example of how a lot of wrong answers won’t find you the right one:

    “A good example in a different field is survivorship bias when looking at the damage done to planes returning from missions in WW2. Researchers looked at the damage on returning planes, and recommended that damaged areas get reinforced.

    Except this would be pointless.

    Abraham Wald noted that planes that returned survived – they never saw the damage done to the planes that were shot down. If a plane returned with holes, those holes didn’t matter. Whereas the areas that were NOT hit did matter. It wouldn’t matter how many planes you looked at. You could gather all the evidence that existed, and it would still be wrong, because of bias.”

    IOW, they should probably have reinforced the areas in returning planes that had no damage – some of that would probably be pointless, but at least some of it would not, whereas reinforcing the damaged areas in returning planes was all pointless, unless that damage resulted in the deaths of crew members like radio operators, waist gunners and tail gunners in bombers, but that would be very easy to determine. Reinforcing returning planes in undamaged areas around engines and pilots would be a no-brainer.

    But that’s not what they did.

    I don’t know who ‘they’ were in the example given by Sean, but as he is British, I imagine he was referring to the RAF.


  17. Sloppy of me – I should have looked up Abraham Wald, who was an Austrian Jew who migrated to the USA, where during WWII he worked on the problem of how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. Contrary to colleagues, he incorporated the concept of “survivorship bias”, and concluded that they should reinforce the undamaged areas of returning aircraft, not the damaged areas.


  18. Assortative mating and the dynamical decoupling of genetic admixture levels from phenotypes that differ between source populations.

    People who think that their blue eyes must be the consequence of having a high amount of Western Hunter Gatherer (WHG) ancestry are kidding themselves. WHGs that have been sampled show a high frequency of one of the haplotypes for blue eyes, and David the Pole says he has identified a sample of a relict population of WHGs in Scandinavia dating to less than 3,000 years ago (something that was already known I think from archaeological evidence – that HGs (probably fisher-gatherers) and farmers co-existed in Scandinavia for a long period – I have seen a figure of 2,000 years quoted, which is entirely credible), but other populations also had high frequencies of blue eyes, and attributing a trait like that to a particular population that ceased to exist in unadmixed form that many generations ago is fanciful.

    From the abstract: “We find that the decoupling of genetic ancestry and phenotype can occur surprisingly quickly, especially if the phenotype is driven by a small number of loci.” Blue eyes are such a case – driven by a small number of loci.

    ‘Chinese’ Kung Fu movie icon Bruce Lee had some European ancestry, likely a white British grandmother. I know his brother Peter, who was a meteorologist who ended up as an Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, and you would never pick that he has recent European ancestry. I have a blonde, blue eyed, very fair skinned friend who had a Chinese grandmother, but you would never pick it if she didn’t tell you – she looks like the archetypal northern European (who are also somewhat imaginary). A sample of two or three means nothing because, in general, you inherit fewer genes from two of your grandparents and more from the other two. But there are a lot of ‘Chinese’ popular singers, actors and models in HK who have a European grandparent, but you would never pick it unless you are informed about it. The Chinese or European phenotype can disappear very quickly – not in first generation hybrids, but by the second generation it is very likely to be essentially invisible, unless you get assortative mating by first generation hybrids (which doesn’t actually seem to happen much among Chinese-European hybrids – i.e. they don’t seem to marry each other much, they usually opt for one side or the other, probably for cultural reasons, but you do get assortative mating among some other hybrids like part-Aboriginal people in Australia for socio-economic and cultural reasons, plus social pressure on whites against marrying part-Aboriginal people), in which case the disappearance of traits associated with one phenotype or the other can be more attenuated.

    People who imagine they have some visible Neanderthal traits because they are told by some direct to consumer genomics company that they have a bit more Neanderthal ancestry than the average are really kidding themselves.


  19. Netflix original: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) – Good film. I can say absolutely nothing about it without plot-spoiling, but I liked it.


  20. Data from the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute:

    Four largest arms importers in 2018:
    1. Saudi Arabia.
    2. Australia (!) – mainly due to the country’s obsession with buying very expensive hardware that doesn’t work.
    3. China.
    4. India.

    Four largest arms exporters in 2018:
    1. USA – largely due to their ability to make very expensive hardware that doesn’t work.
    2. Russia.
    3. France – mainly due to their ability to make very expensive hardware that doesn’t work. French engineering???
    4. Germany.


  21. “CCR5-∆32 is deleterious in the homozygous state in humans” – is it?

    Yesterday I mentioned statistician Sean Harrison. The paper he dissected in this blog post is now to be retracted.

    So, a peer reviewed paper published in Nature is to be retracted because a blogger pulled it apart in a blog post. Well, maybe a bit more than that – he also had what looks like a friendly email exchange with the lead author, during which the author seems to have realized that Sean was bringing up some serious concerns with the paper that he hadn’t thought of. But some of Sean’s comments in the post are pretty damning – it should never have got through peer review. Sean could have opted to publish a criticism of the paper, enhancing his own reputation and profile in the process, but he chose not to do that, and now there won’t be a point.

    If you remember the infamous case of the Chinese geneticist He Jiankui, who CRISPRed twin baby girls in Shenzhen because their father was HIV-positive, and gave a presentation on what he had done at a conference in HK, it’s about that. He gene-edited the embryos before they were implanted in the mother. You can read about it in Wikipedia, so I won’t belabour the details here. In short, his editing targeted the gene CCR5, trying to create a specific mutation called CCR5-∆32, and that’s what the paper and Sean’s criticisms of it are about – the possible deleterious effects of that genetic mutation. It specifically is *not* any defence of what He Jiankui did by Sean Harrison.


  22. Admixture-enabled selection for rapid adaptive evolution in the Americas.

    “The results reported here, considered together with the ubiquity of admixture in human evolution, suggest that admixture serves as a fundamental mechanism that drives rapid adaptive evolution in human populations.”

    That’s big. The past 10,000 years has been a period of great mixing of pre-existing populations, genocides (whether deliberate, accidental or a combination of the two), genetic swamping, and no doubt the extinction of a lot of groups, many of which we moderns have no knowledge of – they died out before we ever knew they existed. The effective extinction of Tasmanian Aboriginal people happened in very recent history (by effective extinction I mean that their ancestry only persists today as very small amounts of admixture in surviving people, and even that is questionable in a lot of cases – some people make false claims; others might make truthful claims about genealogical ancestry, but not realise that they carry no genetic legacy from a particular genealogical ancestor, and you don’t need to go back very many generations before you get to genealogical ancestors from whom you have inherited no genes at all).

    But mixing has also enabled rapid adaptation, including increased natural resistance to diseases.

    Sir David Attenborough pompously pontificated that human evolution has stopped, because modern medicine keeps alive a lot of people who would have died in the past, so people are no longer being ‘weeded out’ by natural selection. A lot of people believed him because he crawls around looking at little frogs and insects and stuff, and he’s famous and distinguished and on the TV all the time, and lots of people think he’s wonderful, so he must know lots, but on this subject, Attenborough is a fossilised idiot who doesn’t know what he is talking about. For one thing, every person ever born has carried de novo mutations which are one of the drivers of evolution, and as the world’s population has rapidly increased, the speed of evolution due to those mutations has increased. The other factor he didn’t think of is the rapid adaptive evolution that has resulted from the great mixing of populations which has occurred within the last 10,000 years.


  23. Alucard in Hellsing Abridged is the Deadpool of supernatural blood-drinkers. -I mention this because it is so very, very rare to find real humor in anime. Here is the song that plays as he arrives in London in time to wipe out the supervillains “Ready to Die” by Andrew W.K. https://bit.ly/1oXe927
    For other dark humor I recommend Seven Psychopaths (by a British director, although the story is in USA)
    My favv scene is when Christopher Walken is confronted by a gang of armed punks who say “stick em up” and he just answers “no”. They get nonplussed and ask “why?”. Walken: ” I don’t want to”.


    1. There is an old saying on Wall Street: Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered.

      Wall Street Masters of the Universe would be well advised to remember the last part of that saying. Gordon Gekko notwithstanding, greed is not always good.


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