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September 23, 2021

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DNA analysis technology has been the bane of genetic purists. Not only has it shown that most of us have non-homo-sapiens genetic material (Neanderthal, Denosivan, etc.). But they keep get told that they, personally, have ancestors who were of the races and nationalities they despise. Not that they accept the findings, of course. After all, many of them reject any technology that they don't understand. But still, it is awkward.

Fascinating stories!

I love this stuff

Same here. And this bit of linguistic corroboration is icing on the cake:

Moreover, Polynesian words for the sweet potato are similar to those in Indigenous American languages in the Andes.

Some readers here may have heard of the trolly problem. A trolly is headed down the tracks on a course to run over and kill six people. But you can throw a switch to divert the trolly onto a side track where it will run over and kill one person. Do you intentionally kill one innocent person in order to save six?

Now let's consider a similar question, but adding uncertainty into the mix. You are tracking a vehicle heading in the direction of the Kabul Airport, and you have some evidence suggesting that the vehicle is a car bomb. If you do nothing, there is maybe a 50% chance that the vehicle will explode at the airport with a death toll exceeding 100 people. But you can destroy the vehicle with a Hellfire missile, which, if the vehicle is not a car bomb, will kill a relative handful of innocent people. Do you fire the missile?

My intuition is that uncertainty changes the moral calculus. In the trolly problem, if you pull the switch you are certain that your action will save more innocent people than it kills. In the possible car bomb scenario, if you fire the missile you can end up killing innocent people without saving any innocent lives. It seems to me that that is unacceptable, even though you could argue that it is balanced out by an equal chance that firing the missile will have innocent lives without killing any innocent people.

My intuition is that uncertainty changes the moral calculus.

The challenge is that uncertainty isn't a binary question. And how certain/uncertain you are is going to (should) impact your analysis.

To take the trolley example, you aren't actually 100% certain that the trolley will hit and kill a bunch of people. It may be extremely improbable, but trolleys have been known to jump the tracks. So the question will always be more nuanced than the binary choice presented.

The critical question, as noted, is how certain are you of the information on which you are basing your decision? (And, if you are criticizing someone else's decision, how certain are you of what information they had to work with? Not to mention what they knew about the reliability of that information.)

In Germany the highest court decided that even in a 9/11 scenario the state is not allowed to shoot down the approaching plane* because it would be deliberately killing innocents no matter how many lives it would save. That at least removes the ambiguity. Not sure, whether the car scenario has been officially decided yet. But a German army colonel got on trial for ordering a fuel truck bombed in Afghanistan that was believed to be to be intended as a terror weapon. The attack killed lots of civilians who were sapping (=stealing) the fuel at the time.

*airliner with passengers, not something small with probably just the suicider on board.

But they keep get told that they, personally, have ancestors who were of the races and nationalities they despise.

I've never felt threatened by this. When I was a wee lad and my maternal grandmother was trying to trace the family trees for my father and mother, most went back to Liverpool. To the dockside parish. Even before DNA testing, I just assumed that there was all kinds of stuff mixed in there despite the family names. There's a certain kind of peace that comes from assuming you're a mongrel when people argue about their own purity.

There's a certain kind of peace that comes from assuming you're a mongrel when people argue about their own purity.

Face it, Michael, you just don't have the makings of a good race-purity racist. Guess you'll just have to live with that. ;-)

Nor do I. I was surprised, when I did the DNA testing, to discover that I was 1/8 Jewish. Surprised, but not horrified. If I had turned up with black ancestors somewhere, I wouldn't have been upset either. Really, really curious where in my ancestry, since I think I have a pretty clear idea where they all came from -- European Jews not surprising; blacks rather more so. But given how people have moved around over the centuries, nothing seems particularly amazing.

The MODERN "trolley problem" involves a self-driving car that could run over various groups of innocents.

The solution is "shoot Elon Musk TWICE".

(Derived from a 'lifeboat problem' with you, Stalin, Hilter, a lawyer, water for two, and a gun with two bullets)

Given my own DNA analysis results, I was not surprised to find no African DNA. I always figured my Dad's ancestors had been too racist and too poor to break that particular social taboo. African DNA would actually have made me think better of my lineage on that side.

At 57% Sweden/Denmark, though, the shock for me was to find 8% Norwegian in the mix.

What were they thinking?

I never spent money on a DNA heritage test, so my guess is that on my father's side there are some Hugenots (French protestants that fled to what later became Prussia). Given that once they made up a third of the citizenry of Berlin, that would not be too surprising. There are some rumors that on the same side there must have been a Jew somewhere (but he got possibly removed by race laws before he could contribute some actual genes to the family tree). My maternal grandmother had a distinct 'Jewish nose' but with her husband being a navy officer during WW2, I doubt that there was actual Jewish ancestry (neither the Kaiser nor Hitler were known to tolerate Jewish spouses* in that service). My maternal grandmother fled with her kids from the family home in Eastern Germany at the end of WW2 (before the approaching Red Army) westwards and ended up in the Rhineland/Ruhr area, where most of my maternal relatives still live. So, even if I was interested in genealogy, it would be difficult to go the path of documents to find out much.

*or ones with Jews too close in the family tree

Not doubting you, nous, but there is this phrase (warning, uses the n- word)

wikipedia link

The wikipedia article suggests it is akin to 'elephant in the room', but I think it is much more plausible, especially with its former currency in the South, that it means 'everyone has someone black in the family tree'.

https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/utq.71.4.909

I was pretty excited when NatGeo graphic came out with the DNA database project, but now, I'm not sure how accurate the answers are, given that it is not the particular individual DNA markers, but the statistical correlation between the presence or absence of those markers

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-accurate-are-online-dna-tests/

When it comes to ancestry, DNA is very good at determining close family relations such as siblings or parents, and dozens of stories are emerging that reunite or identify lost close family members (or indeed criminals). For deeper family roots, these tests do not really tell you where your ancestors came from. They say where DNA like yours can be found on Earth today. By inference, we are to assume that significant proportions of our deep family came from those places. But to say that you are 20 percent Irish, 4 percent Native American or 12 percent Scandinavian is fun, trivial and has very little scientific meaning. We all have thousands of ancestors, and our family trees become matted webs as we go back in time, which means that before long, our ancestors become everyone’s ancestors.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/28/18194560/ancestry-dna-23-me-myheritage-science-explainer
That’s why siblings can get different reports from DNA ancestry services (even though they share the exact same relatives). “It’s possible that your brother might have inherited a piece of DNA from one of your ancestors that you did not,” Pickrell says.

The only surprising thing for me is the number of Finns (in the hundreds) I share identical segments of DNA with as reported by one of the companies I’ve used. It only shows up in my ethnicity analysis on one of the other tests in a fraction of a percent, but my sister gets a couple percent on more than one test. My mother’s first cousin shared DNA with even more Finns than I did, which makes sense given that he was a generation closer to whoever our Finnish ancestor was. I haven’t a clue who that might have been other than via my maternal grandfather’s branch.

In my particular case, my father's side of the family were early, poor settlers of the Union part of the Midwest that is still, to this day, some of the most segregated and racist parts of the US. It was a distinctive strain of white supremacy that looked with horror on slavery and segregation (from a good Christian standpoint), but still managed to be thoroughly racist and practice de facto social segregation.

All of which led to people who bore no animus towards blacks on any individual basis, but who fully embraced the Atwater line on policy matters.

Ah well, if you go back far enough, everyone was black, after all.

How black is another question. Even inside Africa the differences are huge.
Btw, which ethnic group living on earth today has the darkest skin? Is it in Africa or e.g.on Papua New Guinea or in Australasia?

But I think there is no disagreement that we all have black-haired guys in the family tree. How old are the first blonde jokes actually?

I am expecting true non-RINO Republicans to now condemn this audit as clearly fraudulent, since it did not find fraud.
https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/573780-arizona-draft-audit-report-shows-biden-widened-lead-by-360-votes

(I'm hoping that Democrats still treat it as the absurdity it was.)

Did anyone post this ?
Kinda interesting.

A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-97778-3
...A city-wide ~ 1.5-m-thick carbon-and-ash-rich destruction layer contains peak concentrations of shocked quartz (~ 5–10 GPa); melted pottery and mudbricks; diamond-like carbon; soot; Fe- and Si-rich spherules; CaCO3 spherules from melted plaster; and melted platinum, iridium, nickel, gold, silver, zircon, chromite, and quartz. Heating experiments indicate temperatures exceeded 2000 °C. Amid city-side devastation, the airburst demolished 12+ m of the 4-to-5-story palace complex and the massive 4-m-thick mudbrick rampart, while causing extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in nearby humans. An airburst-related influx of salt (~ 4 wt.%) produced hypersalinity, inhibited agriculture, and caused a ~ 300–600-year-long abandonment of ~ 120 regional settlements within a > 25-km radius. Tall el-Hammam may be the second oldest city/town destroyed by a cosmic airburst/impact, after Abu Hureyra, Syria...,/i>

One thing 23andMe has going for it as ethnicity reports go is that they produce hierarchical results, by which I mean that they will put some of your ethnicity in more general categories. As mentioned in the article lj linked, you might get some percentages like "generally European" or "generally Southern European" or "generally West African." Other companies have their specific categories and every bit of your percentages must go into whatever number of them.

23andMe's approach has the virtue of acknowledging the difficulty of differentiating between smaller, more highly intermingled populations. It's easier to use DNA to tell someone of European descent from someone of Polynesian descent than it is to tell an Italian from a Greek or a Tahitian from a Hawaiian. (And, to their credit, they still don't bother trying to differentiate between, for example, the ethnicities found on the British Isles when assigning percentages - something the other companies do with varying levels of specificity.)

What I've seen from some of the other companies is that they do an update to their ethnicity analysis and the results can vary fairly wildly from one update to another, and that's with the same company. When 23andMe update my ethnicity results, it was mostly a matter of moving percentages from more-general categories into more-specific categories (e.g. from broadly Southern European to Italian).

Another thing 23andMe seems to have done well is, to the extent that I can tell from what I already know about where my ancestors came from, identify specific regions within countries where it appears some of my recent ancestors lived.

What really shows the weaknesses in trying to determine ethnicity from DNA analysis is inconsistency - between, as mentioned, updates from a given company; between results among close relatives, beyond what's remotely likely even when considering the randomness in inheritance; between the different testing companies; and between DNA results and what is well-documented family history, again, beyond what is remotely likely even when considering the historical mixing between populations.

But, overall, from what I've seen, if you kind of squint at the results, there's what I would call a "thematic agreement" among them. One test might say you're Portuguese and another Spanish, and maybe the percentages are different, but it's not like one says you're half Swedish and half Nigerian, while another says you're half Japanese and half Indian. They're usually at least kinda-sorta the same.

Nigel!

IIRC, there is more genetic diversity in Africa than in the entire rest of the world.

And it's a real problem how that diversity is not part of medical research efforts; at minimum, a missed opportunity.

It's already starting to happen.
https://www.science.org/news/2021/02/africans-begin-take-reins-research-their-own-genomes

With the availability of cheap (relatively) and extremely capable small sequencing systems from the like of Oxford Nanopore, genetic research is set to explode over the next few years.

, genetic research is set to explode over the next few years.

Let's hope that China doesn't weaponize it. Or, perhaps more to the point, they don't successfully weaponize it. They're likely to try to weaponize just about anything they think will give them an advantage.

Now that the Arizona "audit" has produced the predictable results, it's time for a new insanity. And Michael Flynn has stepped up!
https://news.yahoo.com/former-trump-adviser-michael-flynn-070429048.html

Vaccine in salad dressing??? I'd be surprised at the level of stupidity displayed. Except that my TV has lately featured ads for Miracle Spring Water. No doubt sales of snake oil are spiking as well -- yes, you really can still get it.

They're likely to try to weaponize just about anything they think will give them an advantage.

Your yellow peril underwear is showing.

They're putting in that there New Man's Own salad dressing. It'll make you a new man and they'll own you...

From the first page of Trump's suit against the New York Times over his financial records

The brazenness of the defendant’s actions cannot be understated [Emphasis added]
It's just so hard to get good help these days....

why not nebulized hydrogen peroxide and bleach? add a drop of iodine for good measure? yes sir! just what the big brains on anti-vax FB ordered.

lj, in your opinion is China a military threat to the US or any of its allies?

But only use the pure stuff and mix it vigorously before application. You'll know that it's ready when the mixture emits yellow-greenish fumes. If unsure, test it with a spark. Experts also recommend a pinch of (fresh) powdered zinc to be added.

Weaponizing genetics will probably look less to the human genome than to others, and the US is already in preliminary research.

Note the similarity in the framing to all the debate around Gain of Function research:

https://www.science.org/news/2018/10/crop-protecting-insects-could-be-turned-bioweapons-critics-warn

It sounds like science fiction: A research program funded by the U.S. government plans to create virus-carrying insects that, released in vast numbers, could help crops fight threats such as pests, drought, or pollution. "Insect Allies," as the $45 million, 4-year program is called, was launched in 2016 with little fanfare. But in a policy forum in this week's issue of Science, five European researchers paint a far bleaker scenario. If successful, the technique could be used by malicious actors to help spread diseases to almost any crop species and devastate harvests, they say. The research may be a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the piece argues.

This does, yes, sound like science fiction. Paolo Bacigalupi used this premise in his Hugo and Nebula award winning novel The Windup Girl set in a future Thailand that has been ravaged by The Calorie Wars.

These ideas, of course, are horrible ideas as the discussion around COVID has proven. The risk of unexpected spread and mutation is too high for it to be anything but a MAD response.

DOES HE EVEN HAVE A PLAN?!?!?!

WILL THIS CRISIS NEVER END?>!>!

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Friday that all migrants have been cleared from the encampment in Del Rio, Tex.

...

“Less than one week ago, there were approximately 15,000 migrants in Del Rio, Texas, the great majority of whom were Haitian nationals,” Mayorkas told reporters Friday. “This was the result of an unprecedented movement of a very large number of people traveling to a single point of the border within a matter of a few days. … As of this morning, there are no longer any migrants in the camp underneath the Del Rio International Bridge.”

oh the incompetence.

Yes, but if the Orange Menace had done that (the queen mother of all counterfactuals) then no doubt we crypto-marxists would have been full of unfair criticism for his policies, so it's still just another example of how terrible we are.

oh the incompetence

It's just so totally unsatisfactory when it's done with no casualties and no shots fired. As performance art (which is the only valid criteria), it leaves a whole lot to be desired. /sarcasm

lj, in your opinion is China a military threat to the US or any of its allies?

Well, that would depend on what we do. It's not like they are in some vacuum.

https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison

The United States spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Australia — combined.

I'm sure a lot of folks here have seen this, but maybe you haven't

https://www.telesurenglish.net/opinion/Jimmy-Carter-Lectures-Trump-US-Is-Most-Warlike-Nation-in-History-of-the-World-20190418-0020.html

“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None, and we have stayed at war.” While it is true that China’s last major war — an invasion of Vietnam — occurred in 1979, its People’s Liberation Army pounded border regions of Vietnam with artillery and its navy battled its Vietnamese counterpart in the 1980s. Since then, however, China has been at peace with its neighbors and the world.

Carter then said the U.S. has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history — 1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. Carter then referred to the US as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” a result, he said, of the US forcing other countries to “adopt our American principles.”

After pulling out of Afghanistan, what Carter pointed out at the beginning of the Trump admin was this

China’s peace dividend has allowed and enhanced its economic growth, Carter said. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. China has around 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high speed rail lines while the US has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. According to a November 2018 study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, the US has spent $5.9 trillion waging war in Iraq,

Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations since 2001.

“It’s more than you can imagine,” Carter said of U.S. war spending. “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”

“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover,” Carter told his congregation. “We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”

Note that there is not one word about China being good and just. But if you immediately, as CharlesWT does, go to the yellow peril place (it clearly scares him because he couldn't even find a link that puts across some China boogy man and the internet is full of them), you aren't going to get a clear understanding.

I would be much more worried about China weaponizing nationalism.

The world keeps changing. My wife and a friend went out to lunch. She says: "We got carded." Once unpon a time, that meant the establishment was checking IDs before sellung alcohol. But two women with grey in their hair???

"We got carded" apparently now means they were checking vaccination records. Without one, you eat outside. (Among other things.) Oh.

I never paid for a DNA test, but am lucky enough to have a sister who did.

No surprises - 99% Ashkenazi, though I wonder it that's really "100% but we're not totally sure."

99% Ashkenazi, though I wonder it that's really "100% but we're not totally sure."

That's how science works. Any messurement involves some level of uncertainty. If they had said "100%" anything, that would be a sign that they weren't really doing a scientific evaluation.

Nigel, that is a fascinating article.

It made me wonder if that impact was a factor in the collapse of the Bronze Age empires, but the collapse happened some 400 years later. I think, even in ancient times, that's too long for dominoes to fall.

Still, you never know: per the article, there was enough long-term destruction (contamination of soil meant no crops could be grown, and water supplies were permanently compromised)that a once-important city was not only destroyed, but was never re-inhabited to its former size.

That would have put strains on nearby areas, to replace the trade items and agriculture, and maybe there was a ripple effect that was a factor in the final collapse.

Nigel, you are a bad bad person to post an article that consumed all my free time, like a black hole. [/joke]

This pdf had me not only looking more things than I have in as long as I could remember, it has me wanting to write an article that has "New Explosive Cosmogony of minor bodies" in the title
https://arxiv.org/pdf/0903.3309.pdf

Here's an explainer of that
https://www.technologyreview.com/2009/03/27/125388/comet-chemistry-explains-tunguska-event/
(I like that the author corrected the article at the bottom)

No luck on finding an explainer of the explainer.

Bonus point, he reference Cato the Elder's Carthago delando est at the end. It's a stretch, but give him points for trying.

This article says that these things happen every 100 to 1000 years.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2019/07/22/new-research-suggests-tunguska-like-events-happen-less-often-than-we-feared/?sh=159f2fdb46cd
But those are stony meteors and the Drobyshevski article has it as an icy meteor, so still don't know.

The article also has this
On February 15, 2013, an asteroid with just 20 meters in diameter exploded 24 kilometers above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelyabinsk_meteor

Amazing stuff.

I've not had my DNA analysed, but my children's has been. Three of my grandparents were eastern European jews. The results came back as 35% and 33% Ashkenazi. So the science seems to work.

7/8 northern European, 1/8 Slav, < 1% Ashkenazi Jew.

that is 75% sensible. but i'm not sure how my Slavic maternal grandmother ended up contributing only 1/8 - unless she was only half Slav herself. on this, Ancestry.com lets me down.

genetic research is set to explode over the next few years.

Let's hope that China doesn't weaponize it.

Who remembers this chestnut:

advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

From “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, from the Project for a New American Century, written in 2000. The American neo-conservative blueprint for world domination. Kagan, Kristol, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et al.

I’m sure China is looking at weaponizing anything they can get their hands on. They aren’t alone. It’s what all the big kids are doing nowadays.

When you point your finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

As a sort of interesting footnote, the author of “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, Thomas Donnelly, has transitioned and is now Giselle Donnelly. Don’t know where Giselle goes to the bathroom these days, but most likely it’s wherever she wants to.

The rules are different for folks who are in the club.

DNA - I’m basically Northern European - Scot, English, French, Scandinavian. Apparently my people came to the UK with William the Conqueror, so it’s a weird mash-up of Norse intermarrying with French then intermarrying with English.

And a tiny bit of sub-Saharan African. Which, given family history of slave ownership, probably means somebody was passing somewhere along the line.

Maternal grands were Welsh and Italian, somehow they got crowded out.

FamilyTreeDNA’s latest update seems to be the worst. They have me as 33% Greek, which I can only assume is because I’m a quarter Italian, of which they say I’m 0%. It’s not uncommon for Italians to get some Greek in the mix, but it’s usually a small chunk along for the ride with a much larger chunk of Italian.

The have my father as 48% Irish, but me at <2%. That outcome seems improbable, especially when there’s also some Irish on my mother’s side. At least one of those numbers is very likely wrong by quite a bit.

The have my father as 48% Irish, but me at <2%. That outcome seems improbable,

hsh, that's the sort of outcome which leads to inheritance struggles. Where the will says "My children shall divide my estate equally..." and it's in somebody's interest to say "Ah ha! But he wasn't actually your father**, so you're out, and I get a bigger share!"

Of course, you can counter with an actual DNA comparison test for all of the individuals involved. But it still could provoke a mess before it was straightened out.

** There is, of course, the possibility that he really wasn't. No offense to your parents, but the theoretical possibility exists.

This is fun.
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/09/25/mathews-why-californias-276-million-recall-election-was-a-bargain/

It's an argument for why California's recent recall election was money well spent. And, believe it or not, the man's got a point. Two benefits of the recall:

  • It gave local election officials a chance to enhance the newly expanded voting infrastructure. And work out some of the remaining bugs. (I found a couple myself.)
  • It also let them work on ways to deal with threats to the election process. Something which, sadly, is more than notional these days.
As for the cost, he notes that it was a tiny fraction of the current budget surplus (and an even tinier one of the state budget). Perhaps more graphicly, he points out that, "to put it in another context, the election cost $100 million less than the Dodgers are paying their right-fielder." [Emphasis added]
$276 million sounds like a lot of money. But it teally isn't, except compared to our individual personal finances.

On the subject of DNA, the first CRISPR edited food plant is on sale in Japan.

"For the first time ever, you can now buy a food altered by CRISPR gene editing – at least, if you live in Japan, where the Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato has just gone on sale.

“We started shipping the tomatoes on September 17,” says Minako Sumiyoshi at Japanese start-up Sanatech Seed, which is selling the tomatoes directly to consumers. She says demand for the tomatoes is “not too bad”."
Tomato is first CRISPR-edited food to go on sale in the world


I'm still waiting for capsaicin-infused tomatoes. The world has waited too long for literally hot tomatoes.

i'm holding out for tomacco.

The whole percentage of genetic identity tied to a nationality thing is a weird construct that is more of a compelling narrative than proof of heritage. All those notions of nationality are mythic romance to begin with.

But don't they point to some interesting narratives as we try to imagine a bridge to the parts of the past we have only glimpses of in our living memory?

I initially took my genetic test curious to find out if any of my four Swedish great-grandparents had any Finnish or Sami genetic markers they had passed on to me.

Nope.

Doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't any Finn or Sami in our family tree, just that none of it ended up on the half of the genes that passed to me.

Pretty unlikely, though, given that none of my extended cousins have them showing up either.

"A new discovery offers definitive evidence that humans were in North America far earlier than archaeologists previously thought — a whopping 7,000 years earlier.

Fossil footprints found on the shore of an ancient lake bed in New Mexico's White Sands National Park date as far back as 23,000 years, making them the oldest ever found in North America. That timing means humans occupied southern parts of the continent during the peak of the final ice age, which upends our previous understanding of when and how they moved south."
Newly discovered fossil footprints show humans were in North America thousands of years earlier than we thought

The whole percentage of genetic identity tied to a nationality thing is a weird construct that is more of a compelling narrative than proof of heritage. All those notions of nationality are mythic romance to begin with.

Yet DNA testing, combined with our increasing rate of interracial marriage (and it is thru the roof compared to when I was young) may finally put paid to it. Which, no matter how tenuous its relationship to everyone's real family tree those DNA tests are, is still an (unintended) side benefit to them.

Wonder how the evangelical archaeologists at Veritas International University from Nigel's link are coping with those 23,000 year old human footprints in CharlesWT's link.

Wonder how the evangelical archaeologists at Veritas International University from Nigel's link are coping with those 23,000 year old human footprints in CharlesWT's link.

Same way they do with dinosaur bones: "God put them there at creation as a test of our faith." It's the perfect rebuttal to any and all inconvient facts that turn up. (Probably works for facts about covid as well.)

Also, some dinosaurs made imprints that look like human footprints. That's been used to "prove" that dinosaurs and humans coexisted.

We know that The Flintstones are a documentary, aren't they?
Still leaves open the question of how Noah managed the Autralian fauna in time.

Very quick drive-by for JDT, and any other Beatles people, the former of whom almost certainly knows about this, but just in case not:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/sep/26/beatles-final-days-get-back-let-it-be-john-harris-peter-jackson

i've been waiting for that Beatles doc for a year now. it's the only reason we didn't cancel our Disney+ subscription after we finished The Mandolorian.

end of Nov?

make it happen.

No MCU for cleek? We got D+ for the Mando, too. But my son and I have been consuming all the MCU series the on the days the episodes are first available.

we watched (and liked) Wandavision, but we eventually figured out that we were missing half of it, since we know almost nothing about the MCU.

OK, we've seen GotG and the first Iron Man. and the place i work played Stark Industries in IM3. but that's about it.

we are going through The Simpsons in order. one episode a day. we're in season 13, and it's starting to get a bit grim.

GftNC: Thanks!

The Beatle brain trust in Denver is ready.

And YOU take care.

know what's really dumb?

the 'debt ceiling' charade is really dumb.

A possible explanation for why some people are half-baked...

"DNA is not a blueprint: it’s a recipe coding for thousands of different proteins that interact with each other and with the environment, just like the ingredients of a cake in an oven. Whereas a blueprint is an exact, drawn-to-scale copy of the final product, a recipe is just a loose plot that leaves much more room for uncertainty. Open a packet of cookies: each one was made from the same recipe and baked in the same conditions, but there are no two that are identical. Look closely, and you’ll spot hundreds of little differences: a burn here, a chocolate chip there, bumps and lumps appearing in distinct places, all because of chaotic interactions between the ingredients and the environment.
...
We do not inherit specific instructions on how to build a cell or an organ. Our DNA contains a list of biochemical ingredients (the proteins coded in the genes) and the basic rules for their assembly (some proteins are labeled as “master” and can control the activity of others, while others can start a dominolike cascade of events) but the pieces self-organize into biochemical pathways, cells and tissues without reading a manual. The genetic recipe for a cat will not give an elephant, but you can’t read the DNA of an individual and see a Mini-Me of his features."

DNA Is Not a Blueprint: Remember that when you buy one of those genome testing kits—and eventually, you will

know what's really dumb?

the 'debt ceiling' charade is really dumb.

This is an insult and a slur on dumb. Even on really dumb.

The genetic recipe for a cat will not give an elephant, but you can’t read the DNA of an individual and see a Mini-Me of his features.

There are identical twins, are there not? Same DNA, same facial features. Give us time :^)

the 'debt ceiling' charade is really dumb.

Wait until the House votes on the infrastructure bill, now rescheduled for Thursday. The House progressives' position is still that they will kill the infrastructure bill if the $3.5T reconciliation budget bill is not finished, and the big bill clearly won't be ready. The Speaker has kept her mouth shut in public, but speculation is that the three-day delay on the infrastructure vote is so she can work on the progressives with some combination of "Progress is still being made on the big bill" and "Surely you're not stupid enough to cut off your nose to spite your face."

"Surely you're not stupid enough to cut off your nose to spite your face."

Well, a few of them might be. And a few of the less progressive Democrats might be as well. But at least she doesn't have to try to inflict good sense, or even mere sanity, on the Republican caucus. (Not that folks like McConnell and McCarthy seem inclined to even try....)

i don't mind the bargaining within the Dem party. that's how democracy works - interested parties find out what they can agree on. sometimes it's a loud discussion.

the GOP isn't even interested.

the GOP just wants to flick boogers and giggle at itself.

the GOP just wants to flick boogers and giggle at itself.

If only it was merely boogers being tossed at the walls. Far less gross that what we have actually seen.

The progressives KNOW that the moment they vote for the bipartisan bill, all their leverage is gone and that any vague promises about the big one are false (and some of the 'moderates' are quite honest about that).
In this case I have lots of respect for the 'Enough is enough! You won't fool us yet again!" position. They are in the weaker blackmailing position but there has to be a time when the only option is to make a threat of 'we will all go down together' short of The Squad going all Jesus Christ on the moneychangers.
If the ship is going down anyway*, at least do it with the proper colours flying.

*and it will, if Manchin and Sinema get their way. Btw, Manchin originally complained that 4T$ was NOT ENOUGH, so his complaints now are anything but credible.

he who has the 50th vote needs no credibility.

The progressives KNOW that the moment they vote for the bipartisan bill, all their leverage is gone and that any vague promises about the big one are false (and some of the 'moderates' are quite honest about that).

Except, of course, it isn't. There will be more issues that the administration will want covered. If the big one doesn't happen, the progressives won't forget -- and the administration knows it. (Also, why assume the promise is false? Even if it isn't iron-clad, there's no reason to necessarily assume it won't be honored.)

Manchin has already announced he won't vote for the bill* (and iirc Sinema has too but she to my knowledge never made any promises in the first place).

*and keeps downgrading his upper limit anytime a compromise proposal is made. So, imo he is a bad faith actor through and through.

So, imo he is a bad faith actor through and through.

We have had much more seriously bad-faith actors. Compared to most countries, the US political parties are weak. It is not that uncommon for officials to change parties mid-term. If Manchin wants to run for his seat again in 2024, he can almost certainly win it in West Virginia as an incumbent Republican.

If he went to McConnell's office today and said, "I'll change parties, or at least be an independent and caucus with you, if you let me stay on as chair of the Energy Committee and promise me that all of the climate change stuff gets stripped out of whatever budget bill the House sends over," I'm fairly sure McConnell would jump at it. No more Harris tie-breaking votes. No more Bernie running the Budget Committee.

seems to me that Manchin's a Dem because it guarantees him a spot on WV ballots. he wouldn't survive a GOP primary because he's not enough of a bug-eyed shrieker to appeal to the basest of the GOP base. but he can win a Dem primary just by playing the 'reasonable centrist' role.

in another state, he'd be a centrist Republican. in WV, he has to be a centrist Dem or he's going to get out-crazied.

I might agree about being out-crazied in some other states. But Manchin is a native, in a state where that can still matter, and has held statewide office for so long that I think he could beat a crazy in the primary on the basis of name recognition and habit.

Manchin could, and likely would, be out-crazied in a GOP primary. But whether he would therefore lose is a different question. Depends, in addition to habit and such, on how many crazies are competing to replace him. In a large primary full of lunatics, he might manage a plurality. (Unless Trump picked a favorite.)

I think this is the most recent Open Thread. So here's today's entry in the Always Something New to Learn category.
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap210929.html

Who knew such a thing even existed? Definitely not me.

Got one teed up for Friday. Be there or be square!

Manchin can also not claim that he does it because the stuff is unpopular in his state since even 78% of Republicans there are in favor of the provisions.
But he is not up for re-election soon and his donors are ardently opposed, so what could he do since the memory of the latter tends to be far longer than that of the electorate?
(Sinema is even more brazen given her current fundraisers).

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