Back to it

Snap crack pop go the vertebrae in a two-hand interlaced fingers stretch. I miss blogging the evo, and for a while my comics thing and other stuff got too busy. But nothing’s wrong with once a week – this time with your help.

See, in a bit, I plan to be teaching classes on-line. This is the run-up.

I’m looking for questions. Pick a type!

  • Click on one of the blog categories (not, not “uncategorized,” smart-buttocks) and read a few posts in it. Ask what comes to mind.
  • Name your job, or some other important lifestyle thing for you. I’ll discuss it with you in an interesting way. Promise: I won’t be telling you it’s “just” something-or-other, I mean really interesting.
  • Pick a fossil human relative. Let’s bang out every bit of science and science-history to help anyone understand it.


6 thoughts on “Back to it

  1. I’m particularly fascinated by the relatives where media stories say “some current populations still have x% of this DNA.” Neanderthals are the most-used example, but I like the oh-so-sparsely-documented Denisovans. What’s the real-science vs. pop-article laziness breakdown on them?


    • Got it! I’ve asked the same question to colleagues, or rather, the general version, not those specific taxa. Every biologist learns about and gets trained in DNA-DNA hybridization, but the answer I received showed there’s a big gap between the basics and the use of that information in conclusions and comparisons.

      Answers or at least discussions striving for illumination will be posts of their own. Thanks Gordon!


  2. I work as a duly-certified law-monger, predominantly but not entirely defending alleged criminals. For a long time (not as much anymore) it involved representing narcotics defendants, who were members of a racial minority and who tended to have little money, and whose crimes tended to involve cocaine or its derivatives, which are highly addictive and supposedly harmful. (How much of that harm comes from the addiction, and how much from wide-spectrum social dysfunction, is of course open to fierce debate.)

    “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander describes the overall barbarity of the situation almost perfectly, and is highly recommended though I suspect you’re well familiar with it. “New Jim Crow” by implication discusses my role in the process, though not in much depth. I functioned as a supposed check on the prosecutorial machine, forcing the government to meet its “burden of proof” before another branch of the state could impose draconian penalties authorized, and until fairly recently required, by yet a third branch of the state. I say supposed check, because due to the structure of the system, an outright win is almost statistically impossible. (I do think that my participation results in a much better outcome for my client, simply not one that I find even minimally satisfactory from a moral or policy perspective.)

    If the government could “prove” “guilt” “beyond a reasonable doubt” then the individual is placed in a cage, usually for a very long time, then hopefully is released into society and subject to de facto and de jure discrimination by virtue of having been in a cage.

    These days, my job involves less work of this kind, and often focuses on two people who genuinely hate each other having an argument. While it would be better for both of them to sit down calmly, discuss their conflicting desires, objectively consider the merits of their respective positions, and come to an agreement, they typically conclude that this would somehow be MORE aggravating than paying me money. In return, I then tattle, in a highly ritualized manner, to a tribal authority figure, who is at risk of being misled by a rival tattler who must be discredited within certain sub-cultural norms. Again, there is a question of socially constructed “proof” of certain socially constructed misdeeds, if not “crimes,” and someone is found “guilty.” Usually before this can happen, we tattlers sit down calmly, discuss the conflicting desires, etc., and do what the first two people should have done many thousands of dollars ago.

    So, that’s basically my day. Occasionally it’s interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also something that just popped in my mind and I really would like to know more about, and do tell me if I should just e-mail you instead of putting it here, is social perceptions of maturity and age difference plus the biology that backs it up (or doesn’t).

    I can’t believe I’m about to do this, because I really wasn’t thinking of it when I started writing this, but it is actually a topic I can also illustrate with an xkcd comic:

    (If I understood correctly the movie Malcolm X when I was a child, Islam has that rule, the “Marry someone half your age plus seven years” rule. This parentheses is to link this topic with religion because I think it may interest you.)

    You know how when you’re in your thirties you can be friends with a 25 year old easily, but being 15 is eons away from being 10. That sort of thing. Do we experience time/aging logaritmically, something like that?

    Liked by 1 person

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