Hold the praise (re: comments)

So over the past few months there has been an issue where manual comment spam is getting more sophisticated. The strategy is to leave an anodyne comment with really vague references to how the post is “great” and “very informative” or something like that. The English would usually pass a grammar check, but there’s a strangeness that suggests to me that the commenter isn’t a native speaker, and quite often they link back to some spam site. Obviously I don’t post these and tag them as spam, but it’s kind of becoming harder & harder to avoid false positives while also keeping a check on false negatives.

What I’m asking is that if you want to leave a short comment to the effect of “thanks, great post!”, please think twice. The spammers have ruined this sort of polite and human interaction at this point, as I’m often suspicious now that someone who is expressing heartfelt praise is trying to get me to approve the comment so that they can get a little PageRank.I’m prompted to put this post up mostly because I’ve had some “near misses” where I assumed that an individual was leaving comment spam, when they were just being …

The Rights of Woman

All the talk about the ladies, I poked around The World Values Survey. I was going to post the results in relation to “women” related questions, but I’ll leave it to you. I will say this:

– Muslim and East Asian societies are the least forthrightly supportive of female political and social equality

– There doesn’t seem to be much difference between Muslims and non-Muslims in conservative non-Western nations (e.g., Egypt or Ghana)

– There’s a huge difference between Muslims and other groups in European nations

Posted in Sex

Amongst the believers

I don’t post Creationist related stuff often, but Harun Yahya always brings out the funny in people. So check this out, In France, a Muslim offensive against evolution. First, some standard dullness:

Dressed in a traditional black robe decorated with rhinestones and a white veil that she wears “only” when she comes to the mosque, Maroua admits that she has always wondered about “the dinosaurs and the origin of man…but at school, it cannot be refuted: we’re taught that man descended from monkeys. At home and in the Koran, [we’re taught] that we descended from Adam and Eve, and that God created all living beings.”

Ali Sadun Engin, Yahya’s representative in the current tour of French mosques, seems to have convinced the young girl. “I find his explanations logical,” she says. The proof for creationism is demonstrated with some perfunctory presentations of fossils, including bear, crocodile, and tortoise skulls, and can be summarized in a few brief sentences: “If fish left the water to walk, if dinosaurs were transformed into birds, then we should discover fossils of these beings in transition. However this is not the case. Science thus shows one sole truth: creation as we know it from the …

Now that’s how it’s done!

Woman takes attacker’s penis to cop:

A 40-year-old Bangladeshi woman cut off a man’s penis during an alleged attempted rape and took it to a police station as evidence, police in a remote part of Bangladesh said on Monday. The woman, a married mother of three, was attacked while she was sleeping in her shanty in Jhalakathi district, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Dhaka, on Saturday night, officers said.

Mediterranean men on the move

ResearchBlogging.orgSeriously, sometimes history matches fiction a lot more than we’d have expected, or wished. In the early 2000s the Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes observed a pattern of discordance between the spatial distribution of male mediated ancestry on the nonrecombinant Y chromosome (NRY) and female mediated ancestry in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). To explains this he offered a somewhat sensationalist narrative to the press about possible repeated instances of male genocide against lineage groups who lost in conflicts.

Here is a portion of the book of Numbers in the Bible:

15 – And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

16 – Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

17 – Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18 – But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Then there is the rape of the Sabine women. The ethnogenesis of the mestizo and mulatto populations of …

A lighter shade of brown

Kalki Koechlin:

Kalki was born to French parents in a small village in Pondicherry. Her parents had come to India 38 years ago and settled there after they fell in love with the country. Her parents are devotees of Sri Aurobindo.

As an American I really get aggravated at some of the exclusionary “race popery” which occasionally crops up in the comments of Sepia Mutiny. For example: “Sujay Tale looks part East Asian.” Obviously there’s a normative expectation for what a brown person looks like, but hard & fast rules, even implicitly, are not something that I’d ever get behind.

She speaks English with an “Indian”* accent and Hindi with a Tamil accent:

* No idea if it sounds like a Tamil Indian accent.

Ban them! (including ancestry analysis)

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests Neither Accurate in Their Predictions nor Beneficial to Individuals, Study Suggests:

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests give inaccurate predictions of disease risks and many European geneticists believe that some of them should be banned, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics heard May 31….

Here’s the abstract for the talk which argued that DTC companies don’t give the best disease risk estimates:

Objective: Direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies predict risks of common complex diseases on the basis of genetic markers. Given the low number of markers involved and their small effect sizes, it is unclear whether high-risk groups can be identified. We investigated the risk distributions generated by two DTC companies for 8 diseases.

Methods: We simulated genotype data for 100,000 individuals based on published genotype frequencies. Predicted risks were obtained using the formulas and risk data provided by the companies.

Results: The table presents observed and trimmed ranges of predicted risks. The two companies used different formulas to calculate risks. One company predicted risks higher than 100% for 5 out of 8 diseases, which for AMD concerned 1 in 200 individuals. Observed ranges were smaller for the second company, except for Type 1 Diabetes. Predicted risks higher than 50% …

The mess that is mouse

Recently an evolutionary geneticist told me that his colleagues who worked with mice really didn’t have their stuff together. Actually, his language was a touch more colorful than that. But the gist of the argument seemed plausible enough to me. I tend to avoid reading papers using the mouse as a model organism in genetics because I recall getting confused by the pedigrees and various strain acronyms and abbreviations (nonstandard acronyms and abbreviations have also been a problem for me whenever I try to read developmental genetics). If I want to look at the genetics of a mammal besides a human being I often like to focus on dogs. The breeds of dogs actually mean something to me. There’s only so many skinned mouse hides I want to stare at.

ResearchBlogging.orgWith all that said there is a huge scientific complex devoted to the mouse. If the house of mouse is a mess, then someone needs to do cleaning at some point. A new paper in Nature Genetics starts the process, using SNPs and variable intensity oligonucleotides (VINOs) to assess the relationships between distinct …

Hope before the fall

I think it is pretty irrational to bet on the Mavericks against the Heat in the NBA Finals. And since my Celtics lost I haven’t been following what’s going on closely, but I hope Jason Kidd gets his ring. He’s had some ups and downs, but I do remember being amazed by him when he was a freshman at Cal (though watching tape of Magic it was clear that he had the same panache when it came to assists):