Re: Goes to show you can't tell who's exotic.

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Also see this early picture of his grandfather.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:39 AM
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He was a woman? Damn liberals.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:40 AM
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Watch out, Barack! That kid is going to throw a stick at you!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:43 AM
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The Ears! The Ears!!! (and the smile and jawline. Wow.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:53 AM
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I hate when I fall for propaganda stories, even when their from our side. Still, I'm totally moved that Obama is suspending his campaign to be with his Toot. She must be so proud.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:03 AM
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What I find striking is the nose. Not that I'd thought about it in detail, but if you'd asked me to disassemble Obama's face into features probably coming from his Kenyan father versus his Kansan mother, I'd have picked the nose as coming from the side of the family with recent African ancestry. Looking at the pictures, not so; Obama's got precisely his Kansan grandfather's schnozz.

Another data point for Gary Farber's "there is no such thing as race," even under circumstances where it looks obvious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:04 AM
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3: Don't worry -- his Secret Service retinue is nearby.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:06 AM
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7: There are few things more adorable than a bevy of armed five-year-olds in dark suits with earpieces.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:07 AM
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Of course there's race - but it's a social or cultural category rather than a biological category. If my brain were working I'd cite the anthropologists from the 30s who made this point.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:07 AM
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9: Yeah, that's the position I was trying to shorthand. Even though I believe that position, it's tempting to treat 'race' as obviously biologically real in some sense, though -- skin color is a biological fact obviously associated with social 'race' -- and it's interesting realizing how bad I am (and would guess most people are) at assessing evidence in that regard. I would have without thinking about it, if the question had come up, have attributed the structure of Obama's nose to a biological inheritance from his recent African ancestry, and I would clearly have been flat-out wrong about that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:12 AM
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5: No, she's cranky and angry, because she hates for Barack to see her like that, and she wasn't able to prepare any of his favorite foods and...


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:14 AM
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Kid Barry is pretty hard to recognize in this particular photo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:15 AM
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9: sorry, shouldn't have jumped so hard, but I'm unawake and cranky. Too much physical labor involving heavy items yesterday. Preparing half a duplex for potential tenants turns out to be, like, work. It's been decades since I did eight hours of work, all in one day.

And race is also a biological category - sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs are the usual examples - it's a case of two distinct types of analytical categories sharing but a single name.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:23 AM
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11: That was stupid, peep.

Even if your description in 11 is accurate, that does not preclude Toot being proud. Of course, she is very proud.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:25 AM
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9

Of course there's race - but it's a social or cultural category rather than a biological category. If my brain were working I'd cite the anthropologists from the 30s who made this point.

Race in the sense of subspecies or variety is a biological category. You can argue about how this applies to humans.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:26 AM
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sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs are the usual examples

Also blood pressure medications.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:30 AM
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5: It's propaganda? I mean, he really is going to see his dying grandmother, who raised him and who may well not live to see him elected president. It sure sounds melodramatic, but it's also, you know, true.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:31 AM
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Ooh! Look how far back I can trace BHO's Kansan-side ancestry!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:32 AM
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And race is also a biological category - sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs are the usual examples - it's a case of two distinct types of analytical categories sharing but a single name.

Still no. Mediterranian 'whites' show up with sickle cell; while I think Tay-Sachs may be almost entirely limited to Ashkenazi Jews, people don't think of Ashkenazi Jews as racially distinct from non-Jews from the same part of the world (and back when people would have called Ashkenazi Jews non-white, they would have put them in a box with Sephardic Jews and Arabs, who AFAIK don't get Tay-Sachs at a rate different from the rest of the population). There are certainly genetic characteristics that show up in ways related to the geographical origin of your ancestry, but getting from there to 'race' being a biologically real thing (is ttaM around? Or does anyone else know if 'natural kind' is the term I should be using instead of 'biologically real thing'?) is a big jump.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:34 AM
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15: right. That's what I tried to clarify in 13

16: right. Thanks, good example

I hate it when I fall for tear jerkers. That's why I've never seen Love Story or Jaws. I hear that the shark dies at the end.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:35 AM
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[I would] have attributed the structure of Obama's nose to [...] his recent African ancestry, and I would clearly have been flat-out wrong about that

Ba-doom-boom!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:36 AM
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Obama's grandad looks a whole helluva lot like my Mormon brother-in-law, whose family might also be from Kansas. Which means that Obama looks like my LDS family, as eventually everyone else in the world will.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:37 AM
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I mean, ba-dum bum.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:39 AM
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re: 19

Yeah, natural kind is the sort of concept your are looking for. A conceptual division that reflects a real division in nature.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:41 AM
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22: Demographically they were probably Lutherans, which is about as close as you can get.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:42 AM
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Don't bother resisting us. You will all be assimiliated eventually.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:45 AM
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I would have without thinking about it, if the question had come up, have attributed the structure of Obama's nose to a biological inheritance from his recent African ancestry

Facist.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:45 AM
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What I find striking is the noseevery damn feature except his hairline and his skin color.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:45 AM
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27 took me a sec. Then it was very good.

I did all my race thinking in the other thread. I only have side jokes here.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:51 AM
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24: Thank you. Useful concept.

I'm certainly not claiming that Race(cultural) reflects a real division in nature. I do claim that there is real division in nature - Race(biological). But I was specifically deny that the cultural or social definition of race in any way reflects the natural or biological.

Race(biological) attributes do seem to cluster. Tall, skinny, dark skinned people tend to have tall, skinny, dark skinned offspring. However, when you start calling them Nilotic peoples and then determining which cultural attributes accompany that racial type, you've gone wrong.

The divisions between race(biological)s aren't impermeable or disjunct. Anyone with a Cock-a-poo or a Schnoodle can tell you that different lines that each breed (more or less) true can be crossed. But that doesn't mean that there's no such thing as race(biological).

The extent to which race(biological) is a useful category when applied to humans is problematical. The examples suggest that it may be useful - or a sloppy proxy for a useful category - in some medical contexts.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:53 AM
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For a while in the 90s it seemed pretty clear that there was no biological reality to race. Humans don't divide into subspecies the way other animals do. Looking at one genetic marker will divide the species one way, and looking at another will divide it another way.

But it looks like newer genetic surveys are bringing back the idea that races are natural kinds. Four or five years ago a big study indicated that you can divide humans into subspecies based on migration patterns out of Africa, and these pretty neatly correspond to big ideas of race: black, European, Asian, Native American, Aboriginal Australian.

No I'm not going to look this up. I'm going to have lunch.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:57 AM
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18: Obama's German? Well, that changes everything.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:58 AM
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I do claim that there is real division in nature - Race(biological).

Where I'm quibbling here is at the distinction between geographical variation -- indisputably real -- and geographical division -- much more questionable.

(I'm going to spout off without googling to check myself on everything -- I may be wrong in some details, but anything that sounds unlikely to you, either go check it or ask me and I'll find a reference or admit error.)

My understanding is that you've got some species with sub-species or varieties -- they can be divided into a finite number of genuinely biologically distinct populations -- and some species that don't have them. And of the ones that don't have them, you've got some species that are pretty uniform across their whole range, and others that show geographical variation, but they show geographical variation in a smoothly varying kind of way -- there's no obvious place to draw the line between population A and population B.

And my further understanding is that Homo Sapiens is much more like one of those smoothly varying species than a species with varieties or subspecies. For any given characteristic, you get zones of variation, rather than sharp lines. And if you look at one characteristic, like skin color, and start drawing lines in what seem like the most obvious locations for transitions from one variety to another, you'll get one set of subgroups. If you pick another characteristic like blood-type frequency, and start drawing lines in what seem like the obvious locations, you'll get a completely different set of subgroups.

If all you mean by 'race(biological)' is geographically associated genetic variation, sure, it's real. If you mean geographically associated genetic variation that can be used to sort people into consistent groups, you need to define your terms really carefully and look at the evidence, and I'm pretty sure you'll find that there's no such thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:05 AM
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I think LB is on target. It's interesting, for instance, that sickle-cell is thought to have originated independently in different populations all living in malaria-prone areas. So even a trait that's highly correlated with social conceptions of race doesn't necessarily imply a common biological link.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:13 AM
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Does Obama seem to have faded over time?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:16 AM
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And if you look at one characteristic, like skin color, and start drawing lines in what seem like the most obvious locations for transitions from one variety to another, you'll get one set of subgroups. If you pick another characteristic like blood-type frequency, and start drawing lines in what seem like the obvious locations, you'll get a completely different set of subgroups.

You'll get a "completely different" set of subgroups, or just not a completely consistent set of subgroups? Because my impression was it's the latter. And if you've got 85-90% overlap between the subroups across a variety of biologocal characteristics, that might suggest you're on to something real, right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:17 AM
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35: Here in America, we call that a 'tan'. In the picture when he's a kid, he's living in Hawaii, and probably spending a lot of time in the sun. Now, he works indoors in an office most of the time. I betcha if he spent a couple months outdoors now, he'd get as dark as he was as a kid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:18 AM
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In all likelihood, I'll end up with grandkids who look pretty different from me. I rather like the idea.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:19 AM
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In a skin tone sense, at least. The optimal way is for your grandkids to be the different-race spitting image of you.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:20 AM
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36: Quite inconsistent is my recollection: I'm picturing a map I've seen which has, e.g., a big loop around the Mediterranean for some characteristics, meaning that Spanish=Southern French=Italians=Arabs=Moroccans. That sort of thing.

And even then, the idea of drawing a sharp line is still artificial. There are some species where you can travel a fairly short distance, and suddenly all the, e.g., chipmunks are twice as big and are much darker brown. There's no place really like that for humans: you go gradually from blond Norwegians, to darker skinned Italians; to on average darker skinned Arabs; to various other African populations. And you can draw a line dividing light from dark skinned people, but where you choose to draw it on the map is pretty arbitrary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:26 AM
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33

If all you mean by 'race(biological)' is geographically associated genetic variation, sure, it's real. If you mean geographically associated genetic variation that can be used to sort people into consistent groups, you need to define your terms really carefully and look at the evidence, and I'm pretty sure you'll find that there's no such thing.

This paper claims otherwise. I believe 31.2 is correct.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:27 AM
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meaning that Spanish=Southern French=Italians=Arabs=Moroccans

Bu yes, of course, that would be right. No one is talking about (biologically) dividing everyone up by national ethnicities. See 31 again: it's something like black (s/b Sub-Saharan African), European, Asian, Native American, Aboriginal Australian.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:31 AM
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42: people from India are then "European"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:35 AM
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That paper seems to take people most of whose ancestry comes from three widely separated geographical regions (Europe, East Asia, and the part of West Africa American blacks mostly came from), and find that they can be sorted by genome into the same groups they report themselves as belonging to. This does not appear to me to contradict the position that the human race shows smooth geographical variation rather than falling into distinct racial groups.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:36 AM
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42, 43: And people from Morocco are unambiguously 'European' rather than 'African'? And the consistent genetic differences between Italians and Norwegians don't count for purposes of sorting people into groups?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:38 AM
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I betcha if he spent a couple months outdoors now, he'd get as dark as he was as a kid.

Nah, a lot of mixed-race black people (which includes a huge portion of American blacks) seem to be somewhat darker-skinned as little kids than as adults. It's one of those weird but fairly common coloration changes like brown-haired honkies who used to be blond when little.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:42 AM
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i've read somewhere that French generally accept people as their own if they speak perfect French, no matter what race or ethnicity
i notice the same thing is true for us too
so maybe not race, genes but language should be the determinant of who is who
multilingual people may be declared humeleons


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:43 AM
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multilingual people may be declared humeleons

This is excellent!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:44 AM
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To follow up on 44 and 45: The deal is, if you take the species I'm describing -- one with smooth geographic variation -- it's genuinely different from one with distinct varieties. Outside of the human context, we don't talk about subspecies or varieties unless you've got pretty sharp transitions, without a lot of classificational problems at the edge cases. What I'm saying is that my understanding is that the human race doesn't have any of the sharp transitions that we'd want before we started to talk about varieties in a different species.

Now, if you take a map, and start erasing confusing populations -- you leave out western Asia, and northern Africa, and Southern Europe, and so on -- sure, northwestern Europeans and southern Africans and eastern Asians are going to look like very distinct groups. But we had to pick the populations we wanted to compare very carefully to get that answer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:45 AM
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In all likelihood, I'll end up with grandkids who look pretty different from me

It's amazing looking at my kids and seeing the ways in which they'll seem to be dead-ringers for first one relative, then another from the other side of the family. The way we "see" faces is very sub-conscious, and the way our conscious brains interpret this is malleable.

When I was a kid, everyone said I looked like my mom; as an adult, I look uncannily like my dad. Like, I'll sometimes catch myself in the mirror and think, "Hi, Dad." We have a picture of AB's (great?-)grandmother that I'm certain we could pass off to close friends as being her in costume. It's as if no one else made any genetic contribution whatsoever.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:47 AM
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45: Of course there are some close questions, especially in regions which have long histories of racial mixing. This gets back to the idea that there's not complete overlap on groups depending on how the pir is sliced. (And honestly, I think my 85-90% overlap was probably too high. More like 60-70%, I'd guess. Since I'm pulling things out of my ass anyway.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:48 AM
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46: You don't think this is connected to time spent playing outdoors rather than working indoors? I may be overgeneralizing from time spent hanging out with medium-brown Samoans, but people in Samoa seemed to go from Obama-kid color to Obama-now color based on sun exposure, mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:48 AM
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44

That paper seems to take people most of whose ancestry comes from three widely separated geographical regions (Europe, East Asia, and the part of West Africa American blacks mostly came from), and find that they can be sorted by genome into the same groups they report themselves as belonging to. This does not appear to me to contradict the position that the human race shows smooth geographical variation rather than falling into distinct racial groups.

Maybe, but humans in the United States fall into distinct racial groups.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:48 AM
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51: But what's your justification for calling medium-brown people in southwestern Asia/north Africa the result of 'long histories of racial mixing', as if there had been some historical period where the 'races' were more distinct, before all the mixing occurred.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:50 AM
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I look just like my maternal grandfather. Does that make me black?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:54 AM
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Maybe, but humans in the United States fall into distinct racial groups.

For example, Barack Obama.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:57 AM
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52: It wouldn't surprise me if he's more tan in the Hawaii pics, but it also wouldn't surprise me if his skin tone changed over the course of his life, too.

It's amazing looking at my kids and seeing the ways in which they'll seem to be dead-ringers for first one relative, then another from the other side of the family.

This is the best part of family photographs. Two of my friends married -- his ancestry is Filipino, hers is European -- and while superficially their two kids look like him (she gets asked a lot, when she's with the girls on her own, whether they're adopted), anyone who knows them can see instantly how much the older kid looks like her mom, and the younger kid like her dad. And it's little things like the way a smile is crooked, or how wide the eyes open when someone laughs.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:57 AM
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44: This does not appear to me to contradict the position that the human race shows smooth geographical variation rather than falling into distinct racial groups.

Can't it be both? A Bantu African and a Han Chinese are quite distinct from one another, regardless of the existence of smooth geographical variations between the two. The fact that you can't draw a single bold line between them doesn't make them indistinguishable - you'd have to draw a series of lighter lines that work as a gradient - but either way, you end up with two populations that are, in appearance at least, quite different.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:58 AM
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54: do I need to retrace the history of the sons of Noah for you?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:58 AM
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Maybe, but humans in the United States fall into distinct racial groups.

And which distinct racial group do you put Sen. Obama into?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 10:58 AM
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58: holy shit, you mean Chinese people don't look like Africans? Well that just shatters all of LB's carefully reasoned comments!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:00 AM
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60: Hybrid.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:01 AM
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Or anyone in that study Shearer linked who got lumped into the 'Other' category because they'd fuck up the data; Iranians and Moroccans and Brazilians and Inuits and Siberians and so on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:01 AM
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Norwegians aren't all blonde. Looking deep into the past, you find different tribes with, on average, some slight variation in physical attributes, sweeping through. Genetic studies of the UK are kind of interesting in this sense.

Back when Irish (for example) was considered a race, you'd have all manner of social construction around that. http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/forum.php?lecture_id=3406


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:02 AM
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i've read somewhere that French generally accept people as their own if they speak perfect French, no matter what race or ethnicity

French people like to say so, but it isn't true.

My honey goes from sallow olive-skinned, could pass as southern European, in the winter to coppery bronze in the summer. He calls himself "white," usually.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:02 AM
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Maybe, but some/most humans in the United States fall into some/most definitions of distinct racial groups.

Can't it be both?

Humans: waves or particles? Discuss.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:03 AM
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To think France's war with Algeria could have been averted if the Algerians had spent a little more time in language classes!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:04 AM
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do I need to retrace the history of the sons of Noah for you?

I almost said that, Brock. Get outta my head.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:04 AM
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58, 61: Again, my understanding of how we treat this when we're talking about non-human species is that we don't talk about 'varieties' unless we get naturally appearing sharp lines. And plenty of species do have naturally appearing sharp lines, where species members almost always fall easily into one or another variety. But some species don't have naturally appearing sharp lines. And humans are a species without such naturally appearing sharp lines -- while we've created them socially, to make the sharp lines look biologically real, we have to dismiss, say, India, as an unimportant part of the world that doesn't need to be explained at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:06 AM
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OT: This from Krauthammer is cracking me up.

Contrarian that I am, I'm voting for John McCain. I'm not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it's over before it's over. I'm talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.
I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe -- neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) -- yelling "Stop!" I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I'd rather lose an election than lose my bearings.

"Wet-fingered"? "Shall"? I know Krauthammer has problems, but... seriously? This is, I suppose, why Keyboard Kommandos works.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:08 AM
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Sorry, link.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:10 AM
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I don't even understand "wet-fingered" as an insult. Does he mean sweaty, or thumb-sucking, or something else I don't understand?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:10 AM
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A century+ ago I'd have been mixed race. Now I'm just white. Booooring.

70: I had the same reaction. "Wet-fingered"? Huh? And didn't he recently admit in print that Obama was the better candidate?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:12 AM
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I think he means they've licked their fingers and held them up to the wind to see which way the election is going.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:12 AM
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72: I don't know what it means, either. They just blessed themselves with holy water? They just got to third base with their high school girlfriends? They just emerged from a public lavatory with insufficient hand-dryers?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:12 AM
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So, LB: if not "race", what's the proper term with which to describe the biological differences in members of a species that shows geographical variation in a smoothly varying kind of way?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:13 AM
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I think essear's got it in 74.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:13 AM
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74: Oh. That makes some sense. Krauthammer should see about an editor, unless this is some kind of Conservacrazy meme that I've missed because I am not familiar with all internet traditions.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:13 AM
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I've been thinking about whether there is anywhere in the U.S. where, as Shearer says, people separate relatively cleanly into different racial groups. I think even in the areas with least diverse immigrant influence, there's a lot of variation in relative amounts of European, African, and Native American ancestry, even in pretty uniformly "white" or "black" communities. It's just the social convention of drawing a sharp line between these categories that makes race look well-defined.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:14 AM
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Apparently you can generally tell what country in Europe a person was from using genetics.

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/dn14631-human-geography-is-mapped-in-the-genes.html


Here is an article defending the biological concept of race.

The billion or so of the world's people of largely European descent have a set of genetic variants in common that are collectively rare in everyone else; they are a race. At a smaller scale, three million Basques do as well; so they are a race as well. Race is merely a shorthand that enables us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:15 AM
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Essear makes sense, but it's possible that Krauthammer was implying that they're dentists.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:16 AM
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81 is gross.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:18 AM
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I don't know what it means, either. They just blessed themselves with holy water? They just got to third base with their high school girlfriends? They just emerged from a public lavatory with insufficient hand-dryers?

Yes to all three, but I think the "testing the direction of the wind" meaning is the intended one.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:19 AM
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Open wide, AWB.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:20 AM
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I'll have none of your wet-fingered dentistry!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:20 AM
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You remember Mr. Thirsty?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:21 AM
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76: In other species, I believe biologists commonly use the terms race or subspecies to denote a clearly differentiated variety as described by LB, and population to denote groups with a prevalence of one or more characteristic, but no clear break, as in humans.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:21 AM
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I think classical race theory has five distinct races, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, and then two other groups in Africa, one of which is the Pygmies.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:21 AM
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76: I think you talk about geographical variation. I'm remembering the word 'cline', for smoothly varying qualities. The point is that a conceptualization of the world into people who are 'really' white, or black, or Asian, or Native American and then all the other people who are confusing and screw up your data and don't really count is going to lead you into error: if you've got a particular biological quality you're interested in, like response to a drug, you look at geographical variation in ancestry to figure out how it varies.

And then if self-identified race or 'social race' turns out to be a good proxy for the biological variation you want, you can use it. But you need to remember that you're using it as a proxy, so you don't do stupid stuff like trying to shoehorn people into inappropriate biological boxes based on their social race.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:21 AM
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87: I've never heard "race" used of non-human species. Is that common?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:23 AM
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A friend of mine recently had his DNA analysed and found out that he appears to be a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:26 AM
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80: Once you're saying that "Europeans" are a race and that "Basques" are a race, you're saying precisely that where you draw the geographical lines is very arbitrary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:27 AM
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90. I've seen it fairly frequently. It's less common than subspecies I think mainly because it's dangerously ambiguous.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:29 AM
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91. I'll bet you a pint you are too.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:30 AM
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94: If that list of last names can be relied on, I am through my maternal grandfather, and so's McManus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:33 AM
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Or anyone in that study Shearer linked who got lumped into the 'Other' category because they'd fuck up the data; Iranians and Moroccans and Brazilians and Inuits and Siberians and so on.

God, you people. Do I have to explain this yet again?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:34 AM
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A friend of mine recently had his DNA analysed and found out that he appears to be a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Or his brother. Or his third cousin, with whom he shared a paternal great-great-grandfather.

It's interesting enough to look at Y dispersion: there's a DNA project going on with people of my surname, which is less common* than one would think. My one paternal lineage, while English from at least the 16th century on, is said to be ultimately Sarmatian. Anyone who saw that Clive Owen Keira Knightly movie can sort this out.


* That's not really the right word. What is strange is how few independent origins the name has, something you would not expect from an occupational surname.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:35 AM
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No one commented on that comic strip I linked about the Iranian girl getting mistaken for Mexican. I was hurt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:35 AM
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I've seen it fairly frequently. It's less common than subspecies I think mainly because it's dangerously ambiguous

I never know where to put race on the whole tree. I always think of it being somewhat equivalent to breed or varietal so lower down than subspecies.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:37 AM
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98: comment? I just looked back over the thread adn don't see it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:40 AM
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Kobe: Here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:41 AM
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After some searching, "Race" as a class in biology is not as common as I thought, but for some species it is. race + boar gets you a ton of Google Scholar hits.

And behold, more than one potato infestation is categorized into races. It seems to be used similarly to "strain".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:43 AM
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56 60

Ok, I should have said mostly. Humans are one species so you do have mixed cases.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:46 AM
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101: maybe you would get more comments if you linked to comics that were funny.

And behold, more than one potato infestation is categorized into races. It seems to be used similarly to "strain".

Se, this is the information I was looking for. From now on, to be inoffensive I'll refer to the different strains of humanity. "Many members of the Mexican strain live in that neighborhood."



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:49 AM
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104.2: Definitely better than "mutation" or "abnormality".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:51 AM
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Just to throw a monkey wrench in things:

According to some philosophers of biology, only species are natural kinds. Thus all subspecies, whether they are types of human or types of trout, are classes created for the convenience of the theorist. Same with the upper level taxa, like genus or phylum.

The justification for this is that species play a causal role in evolution, but other taxa do not. I think to get this result, you have to assume a lot about the levels natural selection operates on and what counts as a "causal role."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 11:59 AM
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There are no natural kinds.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:05 PM
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And remember, whenever a philosopher says anything about "causal roles", you should become suspicious.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:11 PM
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(Niall of the Nine Hostages)
Or his brother. Or his third cousin, with whom he shared a paternal great-great-grandfather.

Well, yes, but Niall is the one who supposedly had loads of sons, grandsons etc. Like the Genghis Khan of Ireland.

I'll bet you a pint you are too.

There's a good chance but of course I don't have any Y-chromosomes to confirm it. (Don't know if the 1-in-12 odds for Irish men refers to male-line descent only or includes female lines. ) I'm not from the part of the country where 20% of men have that gene but could have some ancestry from there. Actually ttaM might well also have that gene, based on what he's said before about his surname.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:12 PM
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Just to throw a monkey wrench in things:

Racist.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:13 PM
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Acceptable biological use

How the Germans became black


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:16 PM
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Hey emir, 1837 was a dark day for your country.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:19 PM
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Feckers probably brought the potato blight with them ...


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:23 PM
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only species are natural kinds

Dandelions are a counterexample.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:24 PM
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||

Christ, what an asshole. Good thing Rahm Emanuel et al. recruited this guy to switch from Republican to Democrat and take the place of the actual Democrat who could have won the election in 2006.

|>


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:32 PM
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97 -- Wait, what? There's actual genetic evidence for the Sarmatian knights of the Round Table theory?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:34 PM
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re: 107

FWIW, I have a fairly deflationary view of natural kinds myself. Most things that get called natural kinds aren't, and those that are, their 'natural kindness' isn't what's important or theoretically relevant.

I tend towards the Hull/Ghiselin view on species, too.*

* although I can probably be persuaded into a more pluralistic take. I tend to find lots of biological concepts ('function' is one) fit a pluralistic analysis best.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 12:38 PM
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If he loses, try this:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid271557392/bctid1842856410


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:00 PM
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Semi-OT:

Atrios has the line of the day:

Is Barack Obama planning to kill his grandmother for the sympathy vote, or because she knows the truth about his birthplace?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:01 PM
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Race definitely refers to something biologically real, having to do with the extent of inbreeding. LB is basically saying that empirically, human beings haven't inbred that much. But compared to what? Compared to racist stereotypes by which races are totally different and don't have a ton of overlap in characteristics? Sure. Compared to an idealized situation of no inbreeding at all, where no average distinction in biological characteristics can be made between populations? No, compared to that there's been a huge amount of historical inbreeding.

Race is just family writ large. It's closeness of biological relation.

Then there's the other debate about how much behavioral phenotype, which is really what we care about, relates to genotype.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:11 PM
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Speaking for once as somebody who helps stuff those particular sausages, it's generally a bad idea to read a lot into the results of statistical clustering algorithms; certainly in this kind of application. To over-simplify a bit, if you ask one of the algorithms to find five clusters, it will find five clusters; ask for thirty and it will find thirty. Whether five or thirty is the right number, or indeed infinity because there are no distinct clusters, only continua, is something which we don't really know how to answer very well, unless we make very strong assumptions about what the clusters must look like (say that they're Gaussian), in ways which aren't really plausible for population genetics.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:14 PM
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It's sad when you read Dreams From My Father how alienated Obama felt from his white family. Kind of a waste, although it made for a great book.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:15 PM
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More careful studies of genetics and geographical variation.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:18 PM
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121: but Cosma, if you can predict out of sample on the basis of the clusters you've found, then that's pointing to something real, isn't it? If someone can take a drop of my blood and make a much-better-than-chance prediction of where my great-grandparents live, or what diseases I'm likely to develop someday, then that seems to matter.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:18 PM
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||
Civic Pride:

"We have robbers here in Pittsburgh, but they don't generally mutilate someone's face like that," Bryant said. "They just take the money and run."
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:25 PM
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124: It's perfectly compatible with there not really being any clusters. Things are a little complicated with discrete data, but with continuous data Bartholomew showed that there's always an equivalence (at the mean-variance level) between a model with Q discrete clusters and a model with (Q-1) continuous factors. So sheer predictive power tells you very little about the actual underlying structure, at least not with this kind of model.

(To give an analogy, if the true regression function is continuous but I fit a regression tree, I'll typically have some non-trivial predictive power, even out of sample, but the divisions the leaves of the tree give me are completely artifactual.)

I apologize for the relentless statistics geekery and lack of dirty jokes


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:30 PM
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125: Hey, I know Liberty and Pearl, it's ten minutes walk from where I live, in the middle of Little Italy...


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:33 PM
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This is the best part of family photographs.

Speaking of family photos, an odd thing happened with me.

I knew someone who I would call "average looking" but there was something special about her looks. Something about her looks made me feel we had a connection - she seemed familiar and close to me, even though we were acquantances and nothing more.

I later found an old photo of my maternal grandmother when she was young and this person had a striking resemblance to my maternal grandmother in her youth.

So did this person look familiar to me because of my faded memories of my grandmother when I was a child, or did she look like some second cousin I may have seen at one of the many family reunions?

Or was something else at work? Some kind of genetic matching that we are not yet aware of?

I have no idea. It may have all been coincidence, but my suspicion is that it was not coincidence.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:34 PM
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||

Wow, Yggles gets shrill. He just compared the Ayers and Bush death counts, and notes that, " Ayers comes out ahead."

As in, killed fewer. Just to be clear.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:44 PM
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127: Neighbor!

At least, potentially. How would you go about walking there? I would head over via Friendship Ave., westbound.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:46 PM
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Just to be clear, I'm on Team LizardBreath in the race schmace contention. Folks might want to take a look at this exhibit/site for current thinking on what extent if any the notion of race corresponds to biology. My favorite thing from it is the dinner plate analogy, which points out that, rather than being distinct or even overlapping categories, most human genetic variation, which we would otherwise gloss as race, is almost entirely contained within African genetic varition.


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:48 PM
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Pittsburgh has a Little Italy? Is it what I would call Bloomfield?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:51 PM
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130: I'd head north and west up Liberty; I live in Shadyside. (15 minutes, on consideration, is more realistic than 10.)


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:52 PM
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120: You're not getting the distinction I'm trying to draw. Say there was only one characteristic, height. And say people from Norway averaged around 5'0, and people from Vietnam averaged around 5'10" (and that there were no enviromental effects -- the differences were all genetic). What I'm saying is that if you looked at average heights in Denmark, German, Austria, Hungary, Turkey... all the way to Vietnam, and you found that the countries closer to Norway all had average heights under 5'2", and then suddenly everyplace east of Turkey the average height jumped to 5'8", it would make sense to talk about the European race, characterized by shortness, and the Asian race, characterized by tallness. If, on the other hand, you find that Danes average a little taller than Norwegians, and Germans taller still, and so on, but there's no big jump, then talking about Norweigians and Vietnamese as belonging to separate races doesn't make sense -- they occupy points on a continuum, rather than being in one or another naturally defined group.

The geographically determined genetic difference between Norwegians and Vietnamese is the same in both cases, but the way it makes sense to talk about that difference differs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:52 PM
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132: Yes.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:52 PM
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And hooray, Pittsburgh, where I will be next weekend through Election Day, knocking on doors and such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:54 PM
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136: Carve a backward 'O' on your cheek first.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 1:59 PM
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134 was an attempt to say roughly what Cosma said while I was typing it, but without any of the, you know, statistical background.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:02 PM
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As a mulatto isn't Obama sterile, like a mule? How did we get octoroons, any way? Race is hard.


Posted by: Bubba Darwin | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:03 PM
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136: Perhaps there should be a local mini-meetup?


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:04 PM
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How did we get octoroons, any way?

I always make them with coconut and egg whites, myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:04 PM
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Maybe the Pittsburgh meetup should be at Thai Cuisine, at the corner of Liberty and Pearl, in honor of this poor, sick woman.

Actually, not: it's BYOB.

Yesterday we took a family trip to Ohiopyle (Flickr Pool soon). It was so fucking creepy driving down roads with McCain sign after McCain sign. WTF is wrong with you people? He's an insane, angry fool!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:06 PM
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136: I have been trying to drum up interest in one, certainly. Probably Monday night?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:06 PM
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139: How did we get octoroons, any way?

The evil Dr. Yakub's graduate students, of course.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:07 PM
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If, on the other hand, you find that Danes average a little taller than Norwegians, and Germans taller still, and so on, but there's no big jump, then talking about Norweigians and Vietnamese as belonging to separate races doesn't make sense -- they occupy points on a continuum, rather than being in one or another naturally defined group.

Your reference to "a little taller" seems quite subjective, as is the difference between "points on a continuum" vs. a "big jump" that would make for a "naturally defined group". I don't see any difference between what you're saying and just saying that to Lizardbreath, the differences between races don't seem that big, therefore Lizardbreath sees no point in defining them as races. Perhaps to someone else they do seem big.

The point I was making in 120 is that the correlation between genetic makeup and biological descent is objectively real. How societies choose to parcel up and label that correlation is up to them.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:08 PM
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142: Isn't The Pleasure Bar at the same intersection across the street? Or am I a block off? (Never been there, but presumably not BYOB.)

143: Monday sounds good.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:11 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:11 PM
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And here I thought LB was already in Pittsburgh, and they were just looking for the wrong perp.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:20 PM
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Or am I a block off?

Yes, you are.

I am up for a Monday meetup. Actually, to be totally selfish, best for me would be the Sharp Edge, as it's around the corner from my house - my family could join us for dinner, then go home when it's time, allowing me to stay on with my strange, imaginary friends.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:20 PM
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149: I don't go to the Sharp Edge often enough.

Hey, we are talking about the Monday before the election, right?


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:22 PM
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I don't see any difference between what you're saying and just saying that to Lizardbreath, the differences between races don't seem that big, therefore Lizardbreath sees no point in defining them as races.

Argh. The thing is, I'm not repeating myself over and over again because I'm certain that I'm right about the factual claim I'm making, but because you don't seem to understand what that claim is. Let me try it again.

Situation 1: Everyone in Norway has bright crimson skin. In fact, everyone in Europe does. As you walk across the watershed of the Ural mountains, or cross the Dardanelles, you find yourself in Asia, where everyone has kelly green skin, including people in Vietnam -- there are a couple of brownish people right near the line where reds have intermarried with greens, but mostly people have bright colors, and there's not a lot of geographical variation within the continents -- you can't tell if someone is from Norway or Italy by looking at their skin color. Under these circumstances, it makes sense to talk about the European, or red, race, and the Asian, or green, race.

Situation 2: Norweigans remain crimson, and Asians remain kelly green. But instead of a sharp transition at the line between Europe and Asia, the geographical variation is a slow fade: Turks, and Greeks, and people around the Black Sea generally are all pretty brownish, and as you move west you get a more reddish brown, and east a more greenish brown, until in Norway and Vietnam people are bright red and bright green respectively. Here, you don't have racial groups, you have a continuum.

Now, the difference between these situations isn't measured by the magnitude of the difference between Norwegians and Vietnamese: in both cases it's the same. If you're just looking at a Norwegian and a Vietnamese, you can't tell the difference between situation 1 and 2. The difference is about the nature of the transition between them -- in one case you have well-defined races, and in the other you don't.

What I've been saying is that the human race looks more like situation 2 than 1. I could be wrong about that claim, but it's not purely subjective -- there's a real difference between the two situations.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:23 PM
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PGD, no one denies this: The point I was making in 120 is that the correlation between genetic makeup and biological descent is objectively real.

You're defending a destructive concept for some perverse reason.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:24 PM
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Dammit, the first time I said 'Asian' in my description of Situation 2, I meant to say 'Vietnamese'.

And yes, the Monday before the election.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:25 PM
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Your reference to "a little taller" seems quite subjective, as is the difference between "points on a continuum" vs. a "big jump" that would make for a "naturally defined group". I don't see any difference between what you're saying and just saying that to Lizardbreath, the differences between races don't seem that big, therefore Lizardbreath sees no point in defining them as races. Perhaps to someone else they do seem big.

But I think the point is that the groups are so small that it makes no sense to call them races. My family is all tall, yet we are not a separate race from the shrunken dwarves that constitute Bad Old GF's family.

Further, I think there's a resistance to calling things separate groups when there's big overlap between them - don't forget that the Norsemen average 60" tall - they presumably range from 50 to 70 inches, with a few outliers in each direction. Then the Danes range from 51 to 71, with a few outliers. If you spent your life in Norway, then went to Denmark, you wouldn't look around and think, "Wow, these people are giants!" Because there's no uniform difference between populations.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:25 PM
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Hey, we are talking about the Monday before the election, right?

The election talk has been going on for so fucking long it's hard to believe that it's finally happening the Tuesday after next.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:26 PM
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I seem to have missed the discussion. I had to do my part for climate change by driving 140 miles.

Even accepting LB's notion that different races must be non-overlapping or discrete (which I hadn't known) I'd still claim that the biological concept of race is applicable to some groups of people at some times.

Isolated groups, particularly small isolated groups, can develop distinct gene pools through the usual mechanisms of founder effect, genetic drift, and adaptive selection.

People move around. Sometimes groups move. Sometimes groups move a long way. When that happens you can get a situation like, f'r example, when the Spanish first arrived in the Americas. At that moment there were two wholly distinct genetic groups in the same area. Of course, then the usual screwing around genetic mixing began, and the distinction begins to break down.

Or consider the arrival of the Athabaskan speakers (Navajo, Apache) in the US SW perhaps a thousand years ago. I' bet that since they had enough time to develop whole different languages, they'd be pretty clearly genetically distinct from the indigenes.

Or consider Cahokia, in East St. Louis. After a long time of small hunter gatherer groups in the area, suddenly (?) one sees large commercial centers, corn agriculture, and other links to Mexico, along with burials stratified by class. Was this a result of cultural diffusion, a few people and a bunch of new ideas and techniques arriving from down south, or was this an invasion involving lots of people moving from the south? Genetics, using concepts akin to race, might answer this question.

I'm not claiming that race(biological) among people always has and always will exist, 'till the end of time, immutable. But sometimes, some places, it certainly does exist. Now you may want to call them varieties or types or hippopottomi rather than races. That might make sense for political reasons, and to avoid the confusion from two different tyes of category with but a single name.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:35 PM
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145: the correlation between genetic makeup and biological descent is objectively real

Well, of course (even leaving aside the tautologous interpretation). That's not the point at issue. If you want to say that any two populations with a statistically significant difference in genotype frequencies form distinct "races", well, it's a free country and you can use the word that way. But then you'll find that there aren't three or five or ten but thousands of races. My Nona Lastrucci and my Dada Bernardini's immediate ancestors came from different little hill towns near Sienna, and I can be pretty sure that you could've distinguished the towns from each other, never mind from the gene pool at Shalez in Afghanistan...

If you drew a line between Sienna and Shalez, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a point along it where all the populations on one side were closer to the population at Sienna, and all the populations on the other closer to Shalez. But that still wouldn't mean we had two distinct clusters.

There's nothing inconceivable about a world where H. sapiens did have that kind of genetic clustering, but it really doesn't seem to be the one we live in.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:36 PM
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What I've been saying is that the human race looks more like situation 2 than 1.

As far as I understand them, the conclusions of the articles linked in my 123 are consistent with this. They're careful not to jump from talking about genetic markers to talking about races.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:36 PM
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The really great thing about this argument: the answer is a lumpy continuum! Where's my high-minded centrist award?

A pretty cool exemplar of this is the genetic map of Europe that was recently done. There are certainly distinct genetic subgroups that fairly closely align with distinctive national and regional tribal groups. A number of these genetic types cross multiple countries, while other countries (Italy, especially) contain multiple distinctive genetic types.

Due to the extreme concentrations at some points, there's a pretty good reason people can "look Latvian" if we had any damn clue what a Latvian looked like. But at the same time, there is very definite interbreeding which provides bridges of various thickness between the distinctive clusters.

We're a rich tapestry, we are. And I hope that in 50-100 years these maps look a right mess.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:38 PM
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156: While I'm generally very sympathetic to using genetics to inform history this way, it turns out that the lovely apparent patterns of spread you see in all the papers could easily be artifacts, arising from local spatial correlation, of the occasionally-have-sex-with-people-from-the-next-village kind, without migration. The sordid details involve the interaction of principal components analysis and the discrete Fourier transform.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:41 PM
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there's a pretty good reason people can "look Latvian"

My HS GF talked about how it was kind of nice going to (some particular part of) Ireland and being surrounded by people who all looked like her. I don't think it was in any way a racist thought - she's a very good person, and is a social worker/pediatric nurse - but rather an expression of homecoming.

Of course, when I visited her at Loyola of MD, I thought everyone there looked more or less alike.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:43 PM
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I just want to warn apo that the link in 160 isn't what you might hope for.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:45 PM
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Po-Mo,

Your link in 159 gets redirected. Can you provide instructions to get to the map you talk about?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:46 PM
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156 After a long time of small hunter gatherer groups in the area, suddenly (?) one sees large commercial centers, corn agriculture, and other links to Mexico, along with burials stratified by class.

This is an aside, but for "suddenly", read "after several thousand years in which the archaeological record documents the rise in the Mississippi valley of agriculture, permanent settlement, and increasingly elaborate social differentiation and monumental earthworks and increasingly wide-ranging regional trade, along with a slow diffusion of cord from the south". ObBook: Milner's The Moundbuilders.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:47 PM
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162. For JRoth, hiding behind Apo's skirt:

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=628&handle=li


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:48 PM
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162: Perhaps more to Apo's taste.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:48 PM
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Physionomy recapitulates geography.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:49 PM
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Whoops, the link isn't working. The gene map I was referring to is here.

But yeah, as 159 and 161 make clear, these clusters, no matter how clearly they may appear, do not have great correlations to any conventional notion of race. They're more correlated with notions of "looks British" or "looks Mediterranean" or "looks Balkan". And clearly, no one can "look Swiss".


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:50 PM
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I can't find the map allegedly linked in 159. But I did find a comment from someone nattering on about lifespans and the long-lived people in his neck of the woods. Of course it was John.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:51 PM
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I think I left a "g" out of 167, but I remember reading somewhere that "g" doesn't exist anyway.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:52 PM
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The link in 166 is good, but I would have appreciated it more as a HS student. Sigh.

I have no idea what TLL is suggesting in 165.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:54 PM
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no one can "look Swiss"

Watch it, bub.

http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/00/1d/40/2b/swiss-guard-at-the-vatican.jpg


Posted by: William Tell | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:55 PM
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Also, the corrected link in 168 works but, again, "Click here for full sized figure" doesn't mean what you think it might.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:55 PM
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OK! 3 pics in the Pool. There should be 4, but the one of Kai failed to upload. Will correct soon.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:59 PM
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I agree completely with 157, but it doesn't mean race is fictional. Race is a social categorization imposed on the underlying reality of genetic variation produced by inbreeding. Social categorizations are not fiction, and neither is the variation that gives rise to them. Nor does the analysis in 157 mean that genetic variation is continuous. It might be in some places, but migration patterns put people of very different descent right next to each other. Cosma's grandparents came from nearby hill towns that might well locally have been defined as different "races" (e.g. family descent differences could have been Hatfield/McCoy critical), but once the people from that region immigrated to the U.S. they probably defined themselves differently from the very different-looking Irish in the neighborhood next door.

You're defending a destructive concept for some perverse reason.

This goes to the heart of things. Race and kinship are destructive concepts, but they are also socially central and clearly, visibly biologically linked. I don't like waving them into non-existence because of their potentially harmful side. That has several negative effects: people who deal with the reality of these phenomena in their daily lives feel patronized, you can't get a hearing for the actual (more subtle) ways race is a misleading categorization, and in general it feeds into the liberal conceit that if the benighted people were as well-informed as I was then the world would all be well.

Put another way: defend your belief about the role of race as a collective choice about social organization, not as the discovery of a new scientific truth that race doesn't exist. (This doesn't mean you can't debunk "scientific" racism either).

But I think the point is that the groups are so small that it makes no sense to call them races. My family is all tall, yet we are not a separate race from the shrunken dwarves that constitute Bad Old GF's family.

Because we live in a mass society where kinship structures are no longer very important. In a hunter-gatherer or traditional agricultural society the "racial" distinctions among your family and the next tribe over would be very important indeed, and the decision to intermarry critical.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 2:59 PM
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160: thank you. It's way beyond my understanding, however.

My recollection of the Cahokia work is that it was much simpler:

Take two groups of burials: high status and low status from after corn agriculture begins. Observe a bunch of (what you hope or believe are) independent genetic markers, minor differences in skeletal morphology. The statistical question becomes: are these likely to be two samples from the same population, or from different populations?

Similarly across time. Two populations, high status from before corn agriculture, high status from after. Samples from same population?

164: Thanks. I didn't realize that George Milner had published. I've been out of the loop since the mid Triassic. The transition I was referring to was between Late Woodland and Mississippian, maybe a few hundred years. Not the entire history of moundbuilding.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:01 PM
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That Apo is the designated Unfogged perv, with extra- special pervy google-fu does not give the rest of us the right to use that knowledge for our own prurient Jedi mind tricks. You wanted Apo to find you a lewd link apropos to the situation. You sir, are a web-ponce.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:01 PM
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175.1 was a little confusingly written -- my point was that when Cosma's Italian ancestors moved to the U.S., they may all of a sudden grouped their thousands of different family lineages into a single race based on the discontinuous variation between themselves and the very different populations that surrounded them. There's nothing false about that, the differences between the Italian and Irish neighborhoods are real regardless of how "continuously" the Italians might have varied on their home turf.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:03 PM
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Some of my best friends have socially constructed identities.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:03 PM
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kinship [is] visibly biologically linked.

FWIW, it'd deny that, too. Just ask the youngest member of my family, the Belgian Sheepdog. Or my fictive Uncle Abe. Or my father, who mothered me.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:04 PM
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PDG and Michael H Schneider:
Particularly in 156 you're going through some fairly elaborate contortions to defend the objective reality of a fairly mudily defined concept.
Granted: Variations, both phenotypical and genotypical, exist in human populations.
Granted: These variations can be said to concentrate in particular populations based on patterns of settlement and reproduction.
And of course granted: Genetic inheritance counts for something, children somehow look like their parents, etc.

Non of that translates meaningfully into "race exists biologically," unless you redefine race to the point where all it means is clumps of charcteristics.


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:12 PM
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I think we're working away around to a fairly standard Unfogged outcome, which is furiously argued agreement on the basics, along with vehement disagreement over the precise way to describe them.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:22 PM
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177 is funny, but may have misjudged the faux-naivete of 171.2.

182: Comity!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:29 PM
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183. RE: 171.2 I now hear it delivered it a Jack Bennyesque tone. Comity through comedy.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:32 PM
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175.1 was a little confusingly written -- my point was that when Cosma's Italian ancestors moved to the U.S., they may all of a sudden grouped their thousands of different family lineages into a single race based on the discontinuous variation between themselves and the very different populations that surrounded them. There's nothing false about that, the differences between the Italian and Irish neighborhoods are real regardless of how "continuously" the Italians might have varied on their home turf.

Oh come on. In America today we basically have two races: black and not-black. Saying "there's nothing false about that" because people naturally care about family lineages is going too far.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:36 PM
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you redefine race to the point where all it means is clumps of charcteristics

Well... that's really the only proper way to define anything approximating race, isn't it? That's the only remotely useful definition, at least, since we care somewhat about genetic risk factors for health conditions and genetic immunities but don't give much of a crap about pseudoscientific notions of personality phenotype clustering.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:40 PM
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151

What I've been saying is that the human race looks more like situation 2 than 1. I could be wrong about that claim, but it's not purely subjective -- there's a real difference between the two situations.

Seems pretty subjective to me. You are making a distinction based on how common the intermediate forms are. How rare do they have to be for races to be well defined? And if you are considering say people in the United States, what is the relevance of intermediate forms not common in the United States?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:40 PM
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None of that translates meaningfully into "race exists biologically," unless you redefine race to the point where all it means is clumps of charcteristics.

I may be stupid and crazy, but I think we're discussing an important distinction because it generalizes:
a. There are two realms, the biogical/physical/whatever and the cultural/social.
b. The biological/whatever is called the natural.
c. As a cultural matter, Americans believe that our culture is based on, derives from, is founded in, or somehow arises out of the natural.
d. This belief is false and pernicious.

You see this belief getting acted out in discussions of race, and whether race is natural/biological. You see it acted out in discussions of sex and gender, and whether gender is natural or unnatural in its various manifestations. You see it in discussions of kinship, and of marriage. You see it acted out in discussions of health and medicines, and food, and evpsych and all kinds of other places. It used to be argued in the divine right of kings, and in religion, and elsewhere.

It's a trap: if you claim that cultural distinctions are right because they're natural, you end up arguing about whether kings are really divinely ordered, rather than about what are good political policies or structures.

Thus, I think it's important to always insist on the explicit recognition that there are two areas. There's sex and there's gender; there's race(cultural) and race(biological); there's kinship and there's biological reproduction; etc. And, most importantly, to always insist that the one is not based on or arising out of the other.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:51 PM
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don't give much of a crap about pseudoscientific notions of personality phenotype clustering.

Pass me some of those Freedom Fries and we'll discuss whether the French are naturally cowardly. I mean: we (you and I) don't care, but a whole lot of Murricans surely do care.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:54 PM
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There's a hilarious passage in War and Peace where Tolstoy gives a rundown of some national stereotypes that includes the Germans as inefficient and not very good at war.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 3:58 PM
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Wasn't one of them "A Frenchman can be moved as easily as a stalk of wheat" or something?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:05 PM
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Germans as inefficient and not very good at war.

Depends on the Germans. Prussians- in the "good at war" column. Bavarians- not so much.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:06 PM
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In America today we basically have two races: black and not-black.

On the subway I sometimes indulge in a little silent game with myself trying to guess where people's ancestors are from.
"That lady's got to be Somalian. Maybe Ethiopian."
"Uh, Central Asian?"
"Native South American, but uh, damn, I dunno where." "First-gen African! From, uh, the South-western bit."
"Slav or something. Russian?"
"Arab! Iranian? Fuck! Arab? Kurd? Shit, I dunno."

It's a good game, but not very conclusive.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:07 PM
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OT:

This is just an incredibly good Obama ad, in part because it dredges up a memory from a completely different part of the brain:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq8Uc5BFogE


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:08 PM
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Jackmormon is a profiler.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:08 PM
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What's the pay like at the TSA?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:12 PM
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On the subway I sometimes indulge in a little silent game with myself trying to guess where people's ancestors are from.

I do that too.

The official at a US immigration checkpoint addressed me first in Spanish. I had the urge to reply "No hablo Ingles" but I decided that I was already at high enough risk just from my looks.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:14 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:16 PM
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I do that with every name I see. It's very exciting to see someone with a name like "Lucile Hadzihalilovic". Let's see...Arabic name...ending with a Slavic prefix...must be a Frenchwoman whose father or grandfather came from Bosnia.

There was a grad student here whose last name was "Stajnrajh". Obviously a German name...spelled according to either Croatian or Slovenian (or Bosnian, though not many Germans there) orthography. It couldn't be Serbian or Macedonian because then it would have been spelled in the Cyrillic alphabet, so when transliterated into our alphabet it would be spelled in a more logical fashion.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:25 PM
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A quick search of the Gutenberg text suggests I'm confusing three different things from War and Peace:

The prince again laughed his frigid laugh.


"Buonaparte was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has got splendid soldiers. Besides he began by attacking Germans. And only idlers have failed to beat the Germans. Since the world began everybody has beaten the Germans. They beat no one- except one another. He made his reputation fighting them."


....


All Moscow repeated Prince Dolgorukov's saying: "If you go on modeling and modeling you must get smeared with clay," suggesting consolation for our defeat by the memory of former victories; and the words of Rostopchin, that French soldiers have to be incited to battle by highfalutin words, and Germans by logical arguments to show them that it is more dangerous to run away than to advance, but that Russian soldiers only need to be restrained and held back!


....


From this short interview with Pfuel, Prince Andrew, thanks to his Austerlitz experiences, was able to form a clear conception of the man. Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion- science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth- science- which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:27 PM
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Arabic name...ending with a Slavic prefix...must be a Frenchwoman whose father or grandfather came from Bosnia.

Could be from the southern part of the what was formerly within the borders of the Soviet Union.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:29 PM
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(Not that specific person, but a person with a last name of that form.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:33 PM
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In America today we basically have two races: black and not-black.

Maybe it is like that in Real America, but that has no connection to my Los Angeles-reared self.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:33 PM
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I would figure an Arabic name ending in "ov" or "ova" or "ev" or "eva" was from that region (Kurbanguly Berdimukhamedov), but I've never heard of a Central Asian whose surname ended in "ovich". I think in Russian/Ukrainian, that suffix is used on the patronymic instead of the surname.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:34 PM
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... worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth- science- which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.

Emerson is Tolstoy?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:36 PM
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Yeah, you're right, but it's the particular kind of suffix, not its Slavicity that makes the difference.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:37 PM
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I hadn't realized that Berube had started blogging again, and now I stumble across a relevant post (read all the way to the discussion of the Zuni land claims)
http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php/weblog/principle_of_symmetry_day/

Sorry about his name, I think I left all my accents in my other suit.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:37 PM
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Maybe it is like that in Real America, but that has no connection to my Los Angeles-reared self.

Maybe I should restate, to the extent that race is a controversial "explosive" issue in America, race is about white and black, where the historical pattern is for anything successful to become considered white.

I grew up in Queens and am a ridiculously unlikely hybrid.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:46 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 4:50 PM
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Krauthammer: I stand athwart ...

I instantly free-associated the denouement of Dr. Strangelove. Is that bad?


Posted by: Margarita | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 5:29 PM
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From the "John McCain Still Isn't the Biggest Asshole in This Campaign" file: I passed by Obama's grandmother's building a bit ago on my way back from a meeting. On the sidewalk across the street, along with a smallish gaggle of press and looky-loos, were a couple of idiots who could think of no better place to unfurl a large "Nader/Whoeverthefuck: Vote for REAL Change" banner.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 5:43 PM
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208: Still an overstatement.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 5:47 PM
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212 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 5:50 PM
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212, 213 -- I absolutely agree. The idea that there are only "two races" in America or that this conflict is the only explosive one is just completely dead wrong when viewed from the perspective of California. It writes a huge chunk of California history off the books.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:08 PM
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God, do we have to care about California history now?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:33 PM
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Sometimes my heart bleeds for Frank Zappa and Quine. They're far from my favorites, but they don't deserve some of the fans they get.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:46 PM
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Obama should dig up or fake pictures of him chopping pineapples or sugar cane, with a soundtrack in Hawai'i pidgin (which is actually a creole). Hawai'i pidgin makes Ebonics sound like BBC.

Based on reports from family from the period when we didn't know our bil was a sociopath, Hawai'i is the most culturally distinct part of the US by far, except for Indian reservations. Racially too, but that's not the main point at all.

In Hawai'i Obama was a haole more than he was black.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:57 PM
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Why should Obama do that, you ask? Just to fuck with people's heads for the sheer fun of it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:58 PM
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The very fact that Quine has fans shows its a funny old world.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 6:58 PM
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212, 213, 214; Yeah, I think you guys are right.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:17 PM
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W.V. Quine? Seems a little mean to hate on Quine.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:22 PM
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The Hungarian-Americans in Hargittai's "Martians of Science" were all secular Jews (except Teller, who was observant) born with German surnames. ("Szilard" is Hungarian, but he was born "Spitz"). Their ethnic identification was entirely and strongly Hungarian, though some of them were very comfortable in America.

By the CT poster's Eszter's dad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:23 PM
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The ToS is a devout Quinean.

BTW the "ignore them and they go away" strategy never works.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:26 PM
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193: On a Greyhound into BC I sat next to a mother-daughter pair. The mother was reading what I'm pretty sure was a Bible in what had to be Amharic. The daughter had a sort of Stanford vibe. Ethiopians, some of them anyway, have a very distinctive look.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:30 PM
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Deleting them usually works. Deleting them and then insulting them vituperously is a sadly undertried strategy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:31 PM
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Michele Bachman just now: "I may not always get the words right, but my heart's right. Freedom! Low Taxes!"

The Republican ads I've heard are about 80% character assassination (e.g. doctored photos, out-of-context film clips) and 20% soundbites: Taxes! Freedom: Babykiller!

In one case they took a clip of Franken in character as an angry man, and made it seem that he was really like that.

With any luck, next year Minnesota will have a Hindu, a Muslim, a pornographer-comedian, and a Tinklenberg in Congress. Suck on that, coastal elites!

Though Bachmann is far funnier than Franken by know, in a black-humor kind of way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:36 PM
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I'm in favor of the insult tactic but the Central Committee says no.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:37 PM
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||

Does anyone know someone who can write in ancient Aramaic?

I'm working on my ketubah with an artist.

|>


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:40 PM
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Advertise on languagehat.com. Off-topic comments are OK there.

There's almost certainly free Aramaic software somewhere on the internet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:44 PM
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225 to 224


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 7:45 PM
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I grew up in Queens and am a ridiculously unlikely hybrid.

A Friday guessing game! Okay, um, Aleut-Moldovan? Uruguayan-Timorese? Malagasy-Estonian? Am I getting warmer?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:06 PM
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That reminds me, why do we never meet Bulgarian-Americans? There are people all over the place who proudly claim themselves as Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Hungarian, Greek, even Albanian, but I have never met a person who said their great-grandparents came over from Bulgaria to work in the mines, or that their grandparents lived in some city's Little Bulgaria. Nor are there any US celebrities whose "fun facts" note that they are of Bulgarian descent.

Why not? Where are the Bulgarian-Americans?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:13 PM
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I knew a Brazilian woman whose parents were German Christian and Polish Jewish refugees who was married to a Taiwan Chinese and was raising her kid there. She was a stunning rosy-cheeked blonde by any standard, and had the Brazilian pizazz on top of the that.

And her Jewish mother was secular, but her Christian father converted to Judaism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:16 PM
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232: NYC.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:22 PM
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When's your birthday, Ned? I have a gift idea.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:22 PM
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231: I'm guessing Chinese-Mexican, of whom I know a few.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:23 PM
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What is Christo? Dog meat?

I have met Bulgarian-Americans and Romanian-Americans in Portland. The Bulgarian came from Montana and was probably from a mining family.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:25 PM
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I was just warning someone the other day about the serious dangers of conducting studies based on surname identification. Luckily he was from L.A., so I didn't have to do too much convincing on the "People with Spanish names could be Filipino! You can't generalize!" example.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:25 PM
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Not an impressive list. I have heard of three of these people, two of whom are actually from France and one of whom is a Sephardic Jew. That's right, there have been no Bulgarian-Americans of national importance. Even Albanians have Eliza Dushku and John Belushi. Even the Basque have former senator Paul Laxalt.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:25 PM
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"Importance" s/b "Prominence".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:26 PM
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A map of Bulgarian communities. It's not that surprising if one hasn't met them, I guess.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:29 PM
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OK, I guess Rita Wilson is of equal importance to Eliza Dushku, though I did not know who she was.

What I think is that because there is no romantic mythology around being Bulgarian, some of them claim to be Ukrainian or Croatian or something instead.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:32 PM
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But I'd add that the Bulgarian populations map misses a lot of urban communities, like NYC, in which Bulgarians are visible just because there are a lot of ethnic groups here. There's a famous Bulgarian dance club that is famous for being a lot of fun. I've never been there because I'm not fond of dance clubs, but I have been promised that it is a guaranteed "good time."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:34 PM
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The map in 241 is interesting, but they are defining Bulgarian communities as ones in which a high *percentage* of the population (at least 1%) self-identifies in Census data as being Bulgarian-American. I bet anything there are much higher *absolute* numbers of Bulgarians in other places. Like Chicago. (Two suburbs of which are on that map.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:35 PM
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I know a Bulgarian who lives in Florida and is hilarious.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:37 PM
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243.----I've totally been there! I didn't know it was officially a dance club---seems a bit small for the purpose---but my god, we had a good time. It was the going-away party for a Moroccan-Australian guy who roomed with me for awhile. That's got to be years ago, now.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 8:47 PM
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I suspect the lack of Bulgarians relative to other Slavic/East European ethnicities is related to the difference between the Ottoman empire on one side and Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire (and independent Serbia, and sort of eventually independent Bosnia) on the other. Romania, which has a similar19th century history, is similarly less represented in the US (I think). I don't know why this would be, but that's where I look were I the researching type.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:13 PM
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"where I look" s/b "where I would start to look"


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:13 PM
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I could of course be completely wrong.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:14 PM
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249: Yeah, you're already misrepresenting yourself as not a researching type.

(apropos of nothing, two of the tiny handful of Romanians I've met have absolutely hated the United States, for no reason that I could easily figure out, especially since they'd been living here for years)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:17 PM
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I grew up in Queens and am a ridiculously unlikely hybrid. etc...

You all can give it up, it has to be Kyrgyz-BaMbuti.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:28 PM
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A friend of ours whose dad is Chinese and mother is German-Irish-American-something is a grad student who works on French literature. The first time she stayed in Paris for a long time, she said, she was continually meeting French people who would ask her, "Where are you from?"

"California," she'd say.

"No, I mean, what are you?"

She quickly turned to lies. "Oh, my mother is from Botswana and my father is an Eskimo."

"Ohhh."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:36 PM
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Those ethnicity maps are a hoot. Belgians in Brooklyn, Iowa.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:39 PM
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Portland has a moderately large Romanian community and it takes awhile to calibrate your stereotypes for them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:41 PM
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misrepresenting yourself as not a researching type

I just suggest research, I don't do it. I have a non-terminal MA to back me up here.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:47 PM
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To be fair, I'm easily amused by maps. There's that book that has maps comparing orange juice consumption to apple juice consumption, Pepsi to Coke, Tina Louise to Dawn Wells, etc. Maybe not the latter.

The point of a one drop rule is to create the kind of sharp boundaries LB and others seem to insist on having. The point of the Pocohontas exception was that no one actually believes in race, as a social determinant.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:50 PM
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This is the thing I found fascinating about BHO's ancestry earlier today: one can glimpse historical demographic shifts via google. As far as I'm concerned, the military can kill a load more people and the internet will still be worth it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:51 PM
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I looked at that BHO ancestry, and noticed someone I know to be an ancestor of one of the secretaries in my office. And of an early Supreme Court justice.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-08 9:55 PM
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Missed one!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:43 AM
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Trying to get the last word on some old threads, Sifu?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:45 AM
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I'm going to sleep.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:49 AM
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I'm just bored, Ben.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:52 AM
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I've got just the thing. Why don't you find two hexadecimal numbers H1 and H2 such that both H1+H2 and |H1-H2| are hexadecimal numbers, and the |H1-H2| is minimized?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:54 AM
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Obama's grandfather was Wesley Clark? Who knew?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 6:17 AM
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sharp boundaries LB and others seem to insist on having is trying to argue do not exist in any biological sense


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 6:22 AM
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265: Come now LB, you know the actual intent of the author has no standing.

Further to someone's point above there most certainly have been times when there have been "races" of humans delineated by discrete boundaries consisting of subgroups that had been genetically isolated for significant periods of time. The aborigines of Australia before European settlement are an example that come to mind.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 6:38 AM
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FWIW, btw, humans exhibit a tiny amount of genetic diversity compared to other primate species. It's just vanishingly small; small enough that it needs a special explanation all of its own.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 6:58 AM
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The aborigines of Australia before European settlement are an example that come to mind.

Just because they were geographically isolated [up to a point, it's not like there wasn't population movement over the Torres Strait] doesn't mean they are/were phenotypically or genetically distinct.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 7:03 AM
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265 -- Hence the need for an artificial rule.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 7:15 AM
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up to a point, it's not like there wasn't population movement over the Torres Strait

And apparently long term contact with Molucca. I read something this week, but I can't find the bugger.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 7:23 AM
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long term contact with Molucca
Unless something new has turned up, you probably mean Makassar. People keep trying to show that 'Macassans' were active in northern Australia for many hundreds of years, but AFAIK there's no compelling evidence of visits before about 1720, and they stopped around 1900. They left a lot of loan words, but I'm not sure how much genetic material they contributed. Some, I suppose.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 7:49 AM
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We'll have to swipe N. Australian for DNA to be sure.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 7:53 AM
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193: On the subway I sometimes indulge in a little silent game with myself trying to guess where people's ancestors are from.

It would be very easy, on any relatively full bus in my neighborhood, to find a Native person who looks Hispanic, a Hispanic person who looks African-American, an Asian-American person who looks Native, etc. [All identifiers and the verb "to look" are used consciously of their inherent absurdity.]

On interesting ethnic backgrounds: My manager's kids have a German-American father and an Uruguayan mother who is adopted and probably at least partly Roma. The banes of the census-taker to be sure.

Also, my Russian teacher was born in Hungary, her section of which was annexed by the USSR for the Ukraine, she then moved to Moscow and had an interesting career as an interpreter before defecting in the 1960s and moving to Minnesota where she married a German-American (they're everywhere around here). She speaks seven languages. Also, her father fought for the Red Army, was taken as a POW by the Germans, then on his return, was sent to the GULAG for 12 years. Some fraught relationships with ethnicity there, let me tell you.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 8:42 AM
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Yeah, obviously Makassar. Although I gather the material is new. There must have been at least intermittent contact all the time, though - isn't the date for the introduction of dingos meant to be around 3500 B.P?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 8:45 AM
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I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I've got anti-Makassars right this very moment on my couch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 8:49 AM
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this is great


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 9:13 AM
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276


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 9:13 AM
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276: I like the sun, too.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 9:29 AM
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It's just vanishingly small; small enough that it needs a special explanation all of its own.

Looks like someone hasn't read his Genesis, hmmmm?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 9:48 AM
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re: 279

Heheh. It's difficult to be especially convinced by 'race' when any two chimpanzees _from the same population group_ will have more genetic difference* than between say, an average Mbuti pygmy and an average Norwegian.

* 'course genetic difference isn't necessarily a good measure of phenotypic difference.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:12 AM
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* 'course genetic difference isn't necessarily a good measure of phenotypic difference.

an incredibly important point, that I'd like to underscore. Chimps and humans share a lot of DNA, but there's still a huge difference between us.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:24 AM
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278: I like the moon.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:26 AM
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254 - One of the many things I love about a high school friend of mine (with whom I am in close touch) is that she is the only person left in my life who shares my very fine-grained stereotypes about different Asian-Am communities in LA in the eighties. New people just don't appreciate them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:36 AM
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When I first moved to Michigan, I learned that there was a long, rich, tense tradition of the Caldeans and the White Kids getting in fights and resenting each other, in metro Detroit. Caldeans are Catholic Arabs, I was informed. Go figure.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:42 AM
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Lao: Great big macho Asians with tattoos. Sometimes mistaken for Pacific Islanders. More hung-loose than any of the others except Filipinos.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:46 AM
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Don't be fooled. They're just Zoroastrians looking for some respectability.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:47 AM
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Lao...or HMOOB?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:50 AM
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Lao. Hmoob: Cheerful, respectful, and tiny. I taught them HS ESL.

Cambodian and Thai ladies: Lorena Bobbit is their kind of gal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:54 AM
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||

From an essay: "Everyday I hear people saying what they would do if the past repeated itself, and I do not think that they fully understand the sacrifices that would have to occur in order for that to happen."

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:56 AM
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284: Caldeans

Is that just a personal misspelling of "Chaldeans, or did the term morph in the Detroit area?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:58 AM
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That's a promising sentence if not plagiarized. Not on Google.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 10:59 AM
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290: I feel like I've seen the word spelled Caldean, but maybe either my friends can't spell or I made it up. I don't actually know.

291: It doesn't set off my 'plagiarism' radar, I just think it's funny to imagine she's talking about the difficulties of inventing a time machine. She actually means that we would miss the very things we complain about, if we were to lose them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:02 AM
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Specifically about the pictures in the OP, I would say that a lot of the features mentioned, (specifically the wide nose) are indeed more typical of black people. Obama doesn't strike me as having a very unusual face for a black person. Certainly distinctive, but not too unusual, except for the skin color being pale-ish. His grandfather, on the other hand, while he looks white, looks distinctively ethnic somehow. Certainly not black, but not purebred caucasian either. Not really white.

Also, his legs look really pale. He must not get have been getting out too the beach very much.

Not that I intend to disagree with anyone in the thread.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:02 AM
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292: That was my reading of what you quoted. A student who fully understands what it takes to build a time machine? Awesome!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:07 AM
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So anyway, my guess is that Babar's ancestry is Hmoob-Bulgarian.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:25 AM
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not purebred caucasian either
i've read somewhere mice genes are homologous to human like 99% or close iirc
after that all he talk about race is meaningless imo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:27 AM
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t


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:28 AM
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Portland has a moderately large Romanian community and it takes awhile to calibrate your stereotypes for them.

They're the Nigerians of Europe. Love the internet fraud.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:35 AM
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I think of them as glum Latins.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:37 AM
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292.2: No, she's talking about the body count of the Melchior's Temporal Flensing ritual:
I do not think that they fully understand the sacrifices that would have to occur in order for that to happen.
Few mortals do.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 11:39 AM
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well, okay, 99% was maybe like a slight exagerration


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:11 PM
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When I was in Chicago, I met a Romanian waitress who hated Hungarians, and was outraged when people got the two mixed up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:20 PM
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I heard we share like 40% of pumpkin genes.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:24 PM
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Of the greater variability in monkey DNA, how much of that is just junk DNA? Is that already taken into account? If so, based on what definition of junk DNA?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:25 PM
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302 -- Those gabor sisters ruined it for everyone.

||

Report aus Leesburg.

|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:29 PM
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how much of that is just junk DNA?

I thought that junk DNA was not actually junk DNA, but just DNA that they didn't know what it did. I think I heard that the latest theories are that junk DNA parts are responsible for regulating when different segments get turned on and off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:32 PM
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There are disagreements regarding the nature of junk DNA; it's definitely an area of active research and not at all settled science. I think the current answer is that "we don't really know". But I do think that there are large areas of the genome that no one thinks are not junk DNA, the question is just where to draw the boundary.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:36 PM
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306: Lots of DNA is responsible for that. Promoters, repressors, enhancers. Also some of it is responsible for stabilizing the mRNA, but isn't actually translated into proteins. Or just for attracting the proteins that bind to the parts of the chromosomes that aren't being used at the moment.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:38 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:39 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:42 PM
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310: Don't try to hide by just leaving off your name, Ogged.



Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 12:53 PM
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303, 304 whatever, if one is 40% pumpkin and 82% mouse, then maybe one can stop worrying about skin colour was only my thought


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:04 PM
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312: Says the Mongol.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:11 PM
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I've been buying up junk DNA like crazy waiting for the revaluation. I also have a lot of Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Confederate currency stored up, and Enron stock, and Lehmann Brothers stock. I'm just waiting for the inevitable turn of the cycle when the high becomes low and the low becomes high.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:39 PM
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Read is being Buddhist, I think. Our unity with the pumpkin is a step too far for most people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:40 PM
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I feel sad for whatever project Cosma is neglecting now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:56 PM
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It's fun to see a Republican campaign in disarray for once. And "disarray" is a fun, fun word!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 2:01 PM
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also "ineptitude".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 2:02 PM
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305's video was cute.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 2:04 PM
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And "futility". And "irrelevance". And "regional party". And "rump party". And "malfeasances, misfeasance, and nonfeasance", together and individually.

I say, gloat now when we can, and gloat again after the election even more, if possible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 2:07 PM
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316: In case there was any doubt how much I loathe writing grant proposals.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 2:22 PM
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313 sure i'll repeat that wherever, it's like my sincere belief
i don't know why would you mention my ethnicity here, coz i know the meanings can change with usage the articles, but i'd ask you to not bring the name of my people into some idle conversation, b/c i revere it that way
if you wanted to imply the Down syndrome here as people do sometimes, maybe you may want to update yourself on conventional naming of the condition


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 3:10 PM
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of


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 3:10 PM
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319 -- Nice contrast to the Palinistas. Simone is going up to Hershey in a couple of days to catch the McC/P rally there. I'm sure it'll end up unleashing a stream of anti-American vitriol when she blogs about it (as even blogging about an Obama rally can do).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 4:08 PM
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No one likes us. I don't know why.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 4:21 PM
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