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Selection Spurred Recent Evolution, Researchers Say –  The gist of this new study is that recent evolution = large populations + moving from ancestral environments to quite different ones (jungle to desert for instance).  The authors claim there has been significant evolution in the last 40 years and it varies between population groups around the world.  Larger populations have more potential mutations, some of them being good and eventually sweeping across the population.  You will have more selection for a  mutation if you move to a place where they are advantageous.  If you stay in the same place and do not leave for hundreds of thousand of years and the environment rarely changes you will not evolve as fast, because you do not need to adapt to change. 

This paper is not scientific law, there are a lot of holes that need to be filled  The researchers are getting their sample data from the  hapmap, but keep in mind that although we have mapped the human genome, we do not know what most genes do.  all Humans are about 99% similar, so we are talking about  1% of the genome.  The issue I have is that people (racists with low IQs) read these studies and think evolution means “becoming superior” or that the fact different groups of people are more superior to each other or very different from each other, almost to the point of species or subspecies.  That is not the case.  Evolution just means acquire traits that will allow a person to reproduce offspring.  In some societies that can mean being more intelligent, having shinny skin, or being more less muscular or hairy.  It depends.   Most of the genes they are tracking,  that we know vary in humans, have to do with things like cancer rates, skin coloring, lactose tolerance, etc.  In everyday life for most people this is not significant.  My wife and I are “genetically distant”, especially when compared to some of my relatives, but I get on with her and her family much better than I do with some of my extended family, so although different groups might have different average frequency of genes, that does not mean there is no overlap or that different frequencies of some genes make people significantly different, especially in behavior.  Genes do not operate in a vacuum they interact with the environment as well.  The picture is much more complicated.  

Racists and other types of idiots read “divergent” and “population group” as “far apart” and “political race”.  In reality if I told you that my house was closer to the nearest store than the post office, that tells you nothing about the actual distance you need to travel or how far apart the buildings are in relations to each other in miles (km).  It could be my house is right next to the store and the post office is two buildings over from the store, or the store is 50 miles from my house and the post office is 80 miles from the store.  Without comparing “divergence” to something and giving a measure of what it means people tend to get carried away with their own political bias or stupidity. 

In the end, the old belief, that people have not evolved since the dawn of civilization (about 10K years ago) is likely false but the extent of that evolution on the species and the resulting utility is still largely “educated guess work”.

Japan completes missile intercept test from ship – Bonzai! Looks like Japan will not be burning in a sea of North Koreans nuclear fire in the near future.

Inquiry opened into S. Korean front-runner – Another investigation into Lee Myung-bak’s business dealings.  I’m do not know enough about the issue to determine if it is purely politically motivated or not.   I blogged Sunday on Lee’s popularity, hinging primarily on faith that he is the person who can renew the economy. Here is another interesting article on what is going on in S.Korea.  It looks like no one is sure if a sitting president can legally stand trial, so hopefully this mess will resolved without more fighting. 🙂

Signs of TB in Ancient Skull Support Theory on Vitamin D –  The long and short of it is that tuberculosis has been found in ancient people, and scientists believe that it was an environmental pressure that led to the selection of light skin in populations that lived too far from the equator to produce enough Vitamin D, due to sun exposure, in order to maintain a healthy immune system.  Today we have fortified milk and multivitamins, in ancient times if you were dark skinned and lived in the England or Siberia you would likely get various infections, rickets, and not live very long, unless (like Inuits) you eat something rich in Vitamin D to make up the differences, such as seal blubber.  The other side of that is light skinned people who live in the tropics have to monitor their sun exposure or risk sun burn.  In ancient times repeated sunburn could lead to infection and death, you likely would not live long enough to get cancer.  Since light skin (and eyes for Europeans) is relatively recent and evolved convergently in East Asia and Europe,  I am guessing people avoided the far North due to the ice age(s) so it would not matter.

Nigeria: Fayose, Ibori Sent to Prison – “The two men are being tried for several offences, bordering on abuse of office, corruption and money laundering”.  This is always a positive thing.  The loyalists are up in arms because they know their gravy train of kick-backs has just stopped.  The “rule of law” has to start somewhere, there is bound to be push-back.

I will keep my promises, Chen tells US – The initial article is the more Pan-Green take, the Pan-Blue take is here. I honestly do not believe China will make any serious threats against Taiwan if the referendum goes through, they know they can block any UN resolution for Taiwanese membership. The issues is that Burghardt know the referendum will be approved, as both the Pan-Blue and Pan-Green support UN membership, they just have different takes on if the name should be Taiwan or The Republic of China. The U.S. is concerned this will put more pressure on the Sino-American relationship, giving China a edge in any future dealings. It comes down to, it is an unneeded headache for Washington and one more step in the way of nationalism for Taiwan, which will also make any future talk of reunification more difficult. I do not believe Chen will ever declare independence, he is not stupid. What he wants is to establish strong roots for Taiwanese nationalism in the population, from which he hopes a strong independence movement will grow. IMOP, it is working, but a little slower than he expected.

No sex workers’ rights, no nation – My view on this is a libertarian one. Tax it, regulate it (disease test, red light districts, no street walking), license it, and leave it alone. The best thing any society can do is make it as safe as possible, for the workers and the clients. No society in history has stopped this industry and it is a victimless crime if you regulate the mafias and pimps out of the business.

China denies it deleted parts of communique with Japan – Despite “Japan’s fury“, China knows nothing. I was obviously not there, so I have no clue what went on, but what I do know from years of watching China is that the CCP publicly denying things in the face of firm evidence is not unheard of, in fact, it is common.

Researchers: Human evolution speeding up – I blogged about this once, twice, and now three times this year. People generally assume evolution is a measured slow change over time. That looks to be false. Evolution seems to be more subject to population pressure then thought. It appears it occurs in waves over thousands, not millions of years. We are not usually speaking of radical change in body shape or size. As the article points out, lactose tolerance, skin coloring, and other more subtle things are under high selection in different populations for different regions. I do not expect humans to “speciate”, likely ever, short of some type of epidemic or nuclear war that leaves very small populations geographically isolated for very long periods of time (like in the millions of years). That is unlikely. History shows that whenever slightly divergent populations come into contact gene flow commences as people do what they do. It is not shocking to me that different populations are under different selective pressures, as the world has changed in the last 200 years more than it did in the previous 2,000 years.

Foreign trade nears US$2 trln in first 11 months

PM talks with Singapore minister Goh – Big trade between two Confucian neighbors.

Banks say loan regulation unfeasible – Seems there is some push back from Vietnamese leaders over the new government initiative to temper inflation.

Whiz Chimps Outsmart College Students – New study shows that young chimps have superior memories to adult chimps and humans. It is believed that as a primate (including us) grows older there is a trade off in detailed memory for a greater capacity abstraction/symbolism. Human children were not tested, but I believe it is logical to assume, the human drop off is sharper than the Chimp because of our far greater capacity for abstract thinking. So does this mean that people with photographic memories are closer to chimps (lacking the ability to think highly in abstraction)? I would guess, on average, they have normal or above average abstract reasoning, but have also turned on more ancestral genes for memory; or it could be that these people have some type of newly evolved ability that reorganizes the brain far differently from Chimps, but with similar results for memory. Fascinating.

South Korean presidential candidate cleared of charges – Update on the S.Korean election. The front runner, Lee Myung Bak has been cleared of all charges. More on this here.

The coming China crash – Another prediction of Chinese pending Chinese economic doom, think I heard this before. This person makes a much stronger argument IMO.  Are there any counter arguments out there?  I would like to hear them before I weigh in.  What would happen, if China tightened banking loan regulation and let the real value of the current debt naturally reduce over time due to inflation?

Rui Chenggang On Japan –  I came across an excellent essay last night, by a Chinese national who visited Japan, and his views on the Sino-Japanese relationship.    For the Chinese version click here.  I want to share this passage, below the fold:

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There has been a lot of news about HIV in China this week. I do not have much to say about the article below, other than I have blogged about this before, but in regard to North Western Europeans. I’m sure someone is trying to develop a vaccine based on the what makes these people immune, to my knowledge, a different protein structure on the type of immune cells that does not allow HIV to attach to them. A few years ago, I read a story concerning a group of Kenyan prostitutes who were thought to be immune, but it turned out to be bogus.


Two women found with HIV-immune mutant gene
Wang Zhuoqiong
2004-10-01 05:17

SHENZHEN: Two women have been identified as carrying a mutant gene that is immune to HIV/AIDS, the first such cases uncovered in China, a researcher said.

The finding is the joint effort of a research programme, “Association of Human Genetic Polymorphisms with HIV Affections,” jointly conducted by the University of Washington in the US State of Washington and local Infectious Disease Hospitals and medical institutions in Guangdong Province.

Tuofu Zhu, associate professor of University of Washington and associate director of the Clinical Core at the Centre for AIDS Research (CFAR), introduced the programme to China a year ago as a part of his global research in nations in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

“Before, such mutant genes were only found in Caucasians. The finding has encouraged us to do further research in China, with the aim of developing medicines to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS for different races,”said Zhu.

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I am sure Taiwanese nationalists are happy about this, but reality is that no “Han Chinese” population is “pure”. There is a clear, though subtle, cline in Northern and Southern Han Chinese as both groups have absorbed non-Han ethnic groups in ancient (and fairly recent times, i.e. Manchu) and the general migration trend appears to be Northwest to South. This is well documented, so I’m not shocked that Han Chinese who went to Taiwan intermarried with the aboriginal population. I wonder how much gender bias was involved. I would assume it was mostly Han men marrying aboriginal women. In any case, this is still interesting.

Most Hoklo, Hakka have Aboriginal genes, study finds

Eighty-five percent of Hoklo and Hakka people have Aboriginal ancestry, according to a study on the DNA of non-Aboriginal ethnic Taiwanese conducted by Mackay Memorial Hospital’s transfusion medical research director Mari Lin (林媽利).

Those 85 percent have strains from both plains and mountain Aboriginal tribes, as well as from Fujian and Guangdong and minor traces of ancestry from the Philippines, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian islands, the study found.

Only 1.5 percent of Taiwan’s population have full Aboriginal ancestry, the study found.
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There is a lot in the news today that I do not have a particular opinion but I wanted to share:

Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill Stalled in Senate – I have long felt that human genetic engineering is inevitable and the wealthy elites will augment themselves and their offspring regardless of the fact it may be illegal in the West by going to a nation where it is not. East Asia seems to be the likely location.   Long before that will happen,  genome sequencing will become decrease in expense to the point that knowledge of one’s genetic defects, can be known prenatally. If no bill is passed, imagine what insurance companies will do with the information that you might be 50% more likely to die of a stroke, or 40% more likely to get develop diabetes.  I would expect to see more legislation like this in my lifetime, a lot more.

Denial Makes the World Go Round – LOL, the entire time I read this article I kept thinking of the “intelligent design folks”.  I was also thinking that men tend to be highly in denial of their own flaws, whereas women are often in denial of the flaws of those around them.  This is something men should be thankful for everyday. 🙂  The downside is that this seems to be the strongest with “in-group” people, which makes it more likely that people will show double standards with those they consider their “peers”.

U.N. to Say It Overstated H.I.V. Cases by Millions – Just last week I was talking about how another international organization totally miscalculated China and India’s economic size. If you want my opinion on the HIV issue, well this Nigerian epigone said it best.

Are Scientists Playing God? It Depends on Your Religion – This is very much related to what I was saying on the Genetic Discrimination Bill.

Germany looks to Asia, at China’s expense – I’m not really sure I “get this” as many of the countries with “good human rights” in SE Asia are not the ones who are directly competing in the same industries as China is dominant.  So I am wondering how much of this is a play to the German public by competing political factions.  In any case, “I’m gonna tell you like a n1GG1 told me, Cash Rules Everything Around Me (CREAM)”.  That is pretty much where my head is at one these issues,  economics is going to trump politics, although moralistic grandstanding does make for a nice show for the “mob”.

Asian Stocks Fall Amid Credit Concerns

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I have often often seen on the web, especially on minority sites (particularly black American) comments accusing East Asians of wanting to be white because they favor light skin in their women or eyes with double lids.

The latest example is this:

I saw this today posted on Booker Rising, a site I regularly post on, owned by a person named Shay, who I admire, but sometimes she lets some of her personal hangups eat away at her ability to reason (which is usually vast). My response to her comments and the original writer of the post, John Hope Bryant:

I lived in Shanghai, China in 1999, and also in Tokyo, Japan from 2001-2002. While in Japan I managed to visit Taiwan and South Korea too.

South Koreans, like Japanese, and Chinese have had a white skin fetish for their women that preexisted any Western European contact.

You can see this reflected in Tang Dynasty China which was roughly the same time as the later part of the Western Roman Empire. There were envoys that were exchanged, but for most Chinese had never seen a European.

There are some East Asian women naturally as pale as in the link (my sister in law is, the younger one), but most are not. Typical make up was used and in later centuries, Geisha, in Japan, also pained their faces white, as it was considered beautiful.

Geisha go back a long time before any Dutch or Portuguese contact with Japan, which would be the initial sustained European contact in the mid-16th century:

This is true in Korea as well:

The explanation I have heard is that the upper classes did not do physical labor and stayed in doors so they were lighter, many Asians are naturally pale but unlike many Europeans they do not burn easily, but tan darker (yellowish-brown), so being dark became a sign of being low class.

This goes back to at least the time of Confucius in China (over 2,000 years, around the 6th century BCE)…maybe longer, but that is based on the art I have seen. It is likely more ancient.

So sorry, no it is not about white people.

As far as “big eyes”…
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This was originally a post on futurepundit…I will post the original article and my comments below:

Mandarin is probably more efficient in the spoken form, but less so in the written. Its typical construction is s-v-o, however, mandarin has no effective future sense, no case change, no real past tense (but for the particle “le” at the end of the sentence and using constructs such as “wo zuotien qu shangdian le” (I yesterday go store). Mandarin also has no real plural, everything is counted with counting words, such as we have in English but they have far more (such as 2 flocks of geese, a heard of deer, etc)….in Mandarin an example would be “Wo kanguo san suen quaizi” ( I saw three chopstix, “suen” being the group word (I’m not 100% sure on the group word for chopsticks, been awhile) This language in the spoken form has few exceptions, is very streamline, and despite this Chinese people have been able to develop very complex abstract ideas in science and literature.

I once read that the older a language is and the more unified the country is culturally, the less grammar the language has…English not being an old language and is a hog-pog of two distinct languages, Latin (through the old Norman French) and German (through a distinct dialect that is closer to present day Dutch than High German and Old Norse)…the language is not efficient in grammar or spelling due to this.

I find Mandarin much easier to speak, than other languages I studied (such as Russian, French, and Spanish) due to the simple grammar constructions. Writing Chinese I found very hard, is is extremely detail oriented and memory intensive…the reason they still use characters is due to the fact that the writing system was the langu-franca of China proper for centuries. Until the Communists unified Modern China only the highly educated could speak the language of the “court” and this langauge varied depending on where the court was located. It was not always in Beijing. Due to China’s age and the fact that most people did not move around, regional dialects became so diversified that the difference between Shanghai Dialect, Cantonese, and Mandarin became greater than the difference between Portugese, Italian, and Spanish. If they had went to an alphabet, it would have been chaos, because everyone would have spelled words differently. The characters have no sound associated with them, therefore it does not matter how you say the character the meaning is the same.

I can give a good example of this.

Although Japanese (but for many loan words) is not grammatically similar to Chinese at all, the characters for the words sky and country are exactly the same as in Mandarin, however in Mandarin the characters are pronounced “tien” and guo, whereas in Japanese they are “Ten” and “koku” respectively. China in Mandarin is Zhongguo, in Japanese it is Chugoku, but written exactly the same in Chinese characters.

These characters unified China and made it possible to communicate between regions despite the dialect or language…even Vietnamese (who were part of China for over 1,000 years but have a strikingly different language) and Koreans once wrote in Chinese characer completely…so did the Japanese (however Japanese today only use 2,000 characters in unison with their two alphabet sytems).

 Parts Of Brain Used For Math Differ For English, Chinese Speakers

Chinese and English speakers both use the inferior parietal cortex when doing math. But Chinese and English speakers use different additional brain regions for calculating.

“But native English speakers rely more on additional brain regions involved in the meaning of words, whereas native Chinese speakers rely more on additional brain regions involved in the visual appearance and physical manipulation of numbers,” says Eric Reiman of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, US, one of the team.

Specifically, Chinese speakers had more activity in the visual and spatial brain centre called the visuo-premotor association network. Native English speakers showed more activity in the language network known as perisylvian cortices in the left half of the brain.

Reiman and his colleagues suggest that the Chinese language’s simple way of describing numbers may make native speakers less reliant on language processing when doing maths. For example, “eleven” is “ten one” in Chinese “twenty-one” is “two ten one”.

Note that the native Engilsih speakers used in the study probably were not ethnic Chinese. So this study does not control for genetic factors. I’d like to see this study repeated in an English speaking country with Chinese ethnics who were raised to speak English from birth. Also, a comparison with other groups and with more languages would provide more controls.

If people use different parts of the brain to perform the same problems they probably think differently about the world.

The difference “may mean that Chinese speakers perform problems in a different manner than do English speakers,” said lead author Yiyuan Tang of Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China.

“In part that might represent the difference in language. It could be that the difference in language encourages different styles of computation and this may be enhanced by different methods of learning to deal with numbers,” Tang said in an interview via e-mail.

More use of some part of the brain to do computations might reduce the availability of that part of the brain for other uses. That, in turn, probably changes how the mind models the world.

This report is consistent with previous research which found differences in which parts of the mind process language. See Mandarin Language Uses More Of The Brain Than English.

I’d also like to brain scan comparisons done of people with different occupations (e.g. physicists, mathematicians, truck drivers, lawyers, reporters) for how they do mathematics. Do they differ between occupations as much as English and Chinese speakers differ?