Open Thread, 6/26/2016

18920161I have been very busy obviously. This is not a complaint, though I wish I could spend more time with my family. I do things professionally that I love. And, I’m well compensated for it.

Many people are not in a similar situation. I don’t have a major comment on the recent British vote aside from the fact that in a democracy with one person (adult) one vote the outcomes are not always going to be congenial to elites. I’d rather not be reductive, but, if people in large numbers are behaving in a manner that you perceive to be nihilistic, it may have something to do with your lack of comprehension about their values or prospects. The elites over the past ten years do seem to be engaging in a full throttle game of economic (neoliberal and pro-corporate) and cultural capture of the nation-state. This has triggered populism of the Left and Right. In popular democracies that means that the elites can sometimes lose, because non-elites believe they have nothing to lose.

Obviously I have not been able to sit down and write a long treatment of Iosif Lazaridis’ magisterial The genetic structure of the world’s first farmers. Greg Cochran has some comment, while the comment threads of Eurogenes are often informative. I would recommend that you read the supplementary document first. It’s basically a small book.

A few quick comments though. David Reich has stated that all of the world’s major populations are the products of relatively recent admixtures (i.e., the last 10,000 years after the Ice Age). In Lazaridis’ et al. the authors suggest that West Eurasian populations can be thought of as a mix of four root populations which flourished ~10,000 years ago. But I’d like to add that two of the four, the farmer populations, are themselves admixtures between two very distinct streams. A step backward and you have three root populations: Basal Eurasians, Ancient North Eurasians, and a variegated “West Hunter-Gatherer” set of groups. We have ancient genomes for the last two groups in a relatively unadmixed form, but not the first.

Also, 2007 PNAS paper Genetic evidence for a second domestication of barley (Hordeum vulgare) east of the Fertile Crescent: “We use differences in haplotype frequency among geographic regions at multiple loci to infer at least two domestications of barley; one within the Fertile Crescent and a second 1,500–3,000 km farther east. The Fertile Crescent domestication contributed the majority of diversity in European and American cultivars, whereas the second domestication contributed most of the diversity in barley from Central Asia to the Far East.” (via Jeff Ross-Ibarra)

One of the things that ancient genomes have taught us is that the past was subject to heroic tumult. Demographic shifts were not like the diffusion of heat through space, but a phase transition. At some point I want to go back to the most ancient oral and textual memories of Holocene man. In particular, the Rig Veda seems likely to have fragments of a world that made us. Any suggestions for good translations? (I have the Griffith one).

Comments have been pretty good recently by the way. Keep it up.

What else is going on?

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