There is no more fraught question in biology, anthropology and sociology than the question of differences in cognition, behavior, and other traits that may be correlated with ancestry. David Reich, in his new book, Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, is brave enough to tell us that we should be prepared to confront such possibilities.  He notes, for example, that world championship level sprint events are utterly dominated by persons of West African ancestry.  He is not prepared to attribute that to intrinsic genetic superiority across the board though, noting that West Africans are more genetically diverse than Europeans or Asians, and consequently may well exhibit a wide range of abilities, as I'm sure they do.  

Unfortunately I don't know of any data on the world's slowest sprinters, broken down by ancestral population, so we can't really tell.  I don't think the diversity argument is crazy though, and some really fa…

More Than One Demon

I recently read Ta-Nehisi Coates on Kanye West.  It was a very good piece, but not because it said much about Kanye.  The good stuff was mostly about Coates.  An early theme is Michael Jackson, and the terrible disappointment of concluding that Jackson desperately wanted to be white.  The trouble with Kanye, says Coates, is just the same.  That's why, he thinks, that Kanye says stupid stuff about liking and identifying with Trump, and slavery being "a choice."

Of course, he also realizes that Kanye doesn't know a whole heck of a lot about history, or politics, or other things precious to intellectuals like himself.

I think Mr. Coates is locked into a demonology that really only has room for white people, and while I can't fault him for being fixated on oppression of black people and other minorities, it may limit his insight into the psychology on Kanye, many of whose demons seem to be those common to all of the human race.  That might well be the case for Jackso…

Western Conference Finals

The Houston Rockets who absorbed a beat down in game 1 were not recognizable in game 2.  Neither were the Golden State Warriors who had administered it.  Game 2 was the turn for the Rockets to have defensive intensity, and, especially, to cut and pass.  At the same time GS lost those abilities - passes became turnovers and they started playing one man ball.  The Warriors got crushed in rebounding and assists.

Right now I have no clue who is going to win this - but both teams have shown they know how to lose it.  Both Curry and Paul seem a bit hobbled, but so far Chris looks better.

The Zionist Disaster

The opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem was the occasion of a massive protest at the walls of the Gaza prison camp, and dozens of Palestinians were slaughtered and well over a thousand wounded.  Such is the cost of Israel's apartheid policy.  One trouble with Zionism is that Israel was begun just when colonialism was going out of fashion - it was starting to become unpopular to seize the lands of militarily weaker people and and exterminate or crush them.  Another problem was that Israel was embedded in a larger culture that was profoundly hostile.

Israel has always had a superior PR department, and the newspapers are all full of stories blaming Hamas - if only they hadn't encouraged Palestinians to try to escape their prison, they wouldn't be dead or missing shot off limbs.  That is true, I suppose, but the fact that people are desperate enough to protest where there is likelihood of death or catastrophic injury is not something conjured out of thin air.

Under Ne…

The Unity of the Virtues

Plato believed in the unity of the virtues.  He claimed that you couldn't have some without having them all.  I'm listening to some great Wagner while I write this.  Wagner was an odious asshole, but he wrote great music.  As it happens, a lot of great artists, and others, were nasty pieces of work in their personal lives.  JFK, and likely Bill Clinton, seem to have been serial sexual abusers.

I'm pretty sure that Plato was deluded on this point.  He seems to have believed that virtue originated in an intellectual appreciation of the form of the best, and that anyone who truly knew what the virtuous course was would follow it.  He didn't believe in the possibility of weakness of will or ακρισία, acting against one's better judgement.  At least to those of us mortals suffering from that disease, this is a very weird belief to have.

Bad behavior seems to be rampant in men with a lot of power.  The most obvious explanation is that as Lord Acton proclaimed, power corrup…

Cold Up There

It's been a warmish Spring on the Arctic Ocean, and melting is well underway, with the Bering and Okhotsk Seas already almost completely ice free.  There is one big cold spot though - Northeastern Canada.  There was a huge snowfall there this Winter, and even as snow is rapidly vanishing in Alaska, Western Canada, Siberia, and even on the Arctic Ocean itself, snow and cold persist there.

Is this likely to have a significant effect on the melt season?  Beats me, but Hudson bay melt is a bit slow, but it always melts completely.  Some of the thickest ice likes to pile up in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, so that might be affected.

Final melt out is depends on unpredictable weather, but if I had to guess, I would predict a top three melt out for this year.

A Well Regulated Militia

US Constitution, Amendment II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The gun rights people have largely or completely ignored the first two parts of the Second Amendment.  Clearly, the nation is failing by not adequately regulating the Militia.  I have a few modest proposals:

1)All gun purchasers would immediately be inducted to the National Militia, assigned a identification, required to undergo basic training, and assigned to a unit.

2)All members of the Militia would be be required to undergo monthly and annual training, and be subject to call up when required for service in our wars or other national service.

3)Dismissal from the Militia for disloyalty, threatening behavior or other indiscipline would require forfeiture of all arms.