Re: Down with the gente: neoyorquinos edition.

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OH GOD NO! NOT HER, WHOEVER SHE IS!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:55 AM
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Horrible pick. Doesnt everyone know that women are shrill and don't have the correct temperament to be judges.

Plus, she clearly isnt that smart. Sure, she might have won some academic prizes, but those were probably just token, affirmative action prizes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:57 AM
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Yes, empathy is now bad. The media will immediately buy into this and democrats will start their "I can be heartless too" competition.

Also bad: acknowledging any changes in the country over the last 200 years when interpreting the Constition. The constitution is to be read like the Bible. Every word is interpreted literally, as if it came from a single author with a single divine intent. You must assiduously claim that you do not cherry pick or reinterpret passages, all the while ignoring the stuff about slavery.



Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:01 AM
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The court just moved right. Just a little.

Wait, a minute, I thought the announcement was tomorrow. But I was expecting Sotomayor, left enough to distract the social issue crowd, but part of the NYC business establishment in case any finance cases come before the court. The President for Goldman Sachs.

Wood would have been better, Kagan even better than Wood.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:03 AM
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empathy is now bad.

Right now, right-wingers are trying to figure out how to simultaneously portray her as too empathetic and too heartless.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:08 AM
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Bob is right. There's already an 8-1 or 9-0 pro-business majority on the court, so it's not a "hot-button issue" by that definition, but if that's ever to change it has to start somewhere.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:12 AM
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3: rob, every time I hear about a "strict constructionist" or an "originalist" talk about strict fidelity to the words of the Constitution and the intent of the Framers, I want to say, "Read the fucking Ninth Amendment":

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

I have never understood how one can be a Constitutional literalist without acknowledging the plain language of the Ninth Amendment and the clear intent of the folks who put it in the Constitution.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:33 AM
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7: yeah, the ninth amendment is useful for arguing for the right to privacy against constitutional fundamentalists. But it doesn't do any good when arguing for a liberal reading of the interstate commerce clause. Sometimes we are arguing against government action and sometimes we are arguing for it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:37 AM
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7.1: It's nice that you go to all that trouble. I just reach for my revolver.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:47 AM
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3: The constitution is to be read like the Bible. Every word is interpreted literally, as if it came from a single author with a single divine intent. You must assiduously claim that you do not cherry pick or reinterpret passages, all the while ignoring the stuff about slavery.

It's.... inerrant? That isn't true, though. <originalist>The Founders were slave-holding upper-class white men with a rough majority from the South, so the Constitution must be interpreted the way slave-holding upper-class white men mainly from the South would have wanted it to be interpreted. And Jefferson and the like were flexible about those provisions, ya know, as long as the demands of flexibility were the kinds of things slave-holding upper-class white men from the South would have supported.</originalist>

max
['That's why Scalia has a spine like a slinky.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:53 AM
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If anything, the Ninth Amendment is invoked by conservatives/libertarians these days more than liberals. Randy Barnett has a constitutional theory under which the Ninth Amendment means that the constitution mandates a libertarian utopia as a matter of law. Personally, I've never been able to figure out a convincing theory of the Ninth Amendment that goes beyond " a bunch of meaningless verbiage meant to placate the anti-federalists"; if you take it more seriously than that, constitutional law starts to get weird fast.

On Sotomayor, I fear Bob is right on business issues, but no one really knows and she is definitely a solid centrist pick. Don't see much changing except that we'll no longer get Souter's style of opinions and dissents, of which I was a fan.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:57 AM
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It was hilarious the amount of crowing over the fact that Obama said the Constitution was flawed. People really do believe that it's some kind of divine document.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:02 AM
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10: I get completely stuck on how an originalist can think that women have any constitutional right to equal treatment under the Civil Rights Amendments. Plainly, the drafters of those amendments didn't think they mandated equal treatment for women under the law.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:06 AM
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It would be nice if this were some clever political ploy on Obama's part, so that when and if Sotomayor is not confirmed, he can put up someone further left and dare the Repugs to fuck with him again. Nice, but unlikely. Also, is she clean with regard to nanny/housekeeper FICA payments? "The first rule of political appointments is: Pay the nanny's taxes. The second rule of political appointments is: Pay the nanny's taxes."

Also, from the Wikipedia entry: "In reality, she is a far-left judicial activist, as proven by own statements that courts make policy."


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:07 AM
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crowing over the fact that Obama said the Constitution was flawed

You'd think the fact that it has been amended 27 times would be sufficient evidence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:09 AM
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13: Of course, originalists don't think that women should get equal treatment: they are the same people who fought against the ERA movement, which was necessitated by the fact that the Civil Rights Amendments weren't interpreted as necessitating equal treatment for women.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:12 AM
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But most of them explicitly say they do, whether or not they mean it -- that's one line of opposition to the ERA, that it's made unnecessary by the fact that the Constitution mandates equal treatment for all. I just don't know how an originalist justifies that belief.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:15 AM
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explicitly say they do, whether or not they mean it

This is why originalism is a profoundly stupid legal philosophy.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:16 AM
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"It would be nice if this were some clever political ploy on Obama's part, so that when and if Sotomayor is not confirmed, he can put up someone further left and dare the Repugs to fuck with him again. "

My thoughts too. But to be honest I'm pretty happy with the pick, given the circumstances.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:16 AM
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Pay the nanny's taxes.

No kids, so probably safe on that score. Hope she's up to date on her taxes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:20 AM
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It would be nice if this were some clever political ploy on Obama's part, so that when and if Sotomayor is not confirmed, he can put up someone further left and dare the Repugs to fuck with him again.

Huh? If they tanked the nomination, how would picking someone further left be "daring them to fuck with him again"?


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:21 AM
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21: Well, I would assume that if that happened, the Obama spin would be "See, the Republicans are just being obstructionist, and holding the country hostage with their filibusters. I'm the President, I get to nominate SC justices, and every day they delay means that they're undermining the functioning of the country that much more. Plus they're all racists." Or something along those lines. Then, when he nominated someone further left, the Republican position would already be undercut.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:30 AM
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I think Obama should appoint himself. Clearly the job of president is a dead-end in terms of career advancement, and he's young yet.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:30 AM
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It would be nice if this were some clever political ploy on Obama's part . . .

Yeah, that was my first thought. But I suspect that Obama is being, as the poet The Editors said, retarded like a fox.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:30 AM
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if you take it more seriously than that, constitutional law starts to get weird fast.

Well, I'm not the one arguing in favor of a literalist reading of the Constitution. If Justice Scalia wants to take that route, then he needs to do some explaining. If you're Justice Scalia, you live to admonish people about ignoring the plain language and intent of the Constitution.

And hey, Constitutional law is weird. Not only is it not like reading a recipe, it's not like other types of law. It's loaded with qualitative language, and it contains the Ninth Amendment. Anyone uncomfortable with those facts just needs to learn to deal.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:31 AM
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Again, I don't think that's the most likely scenario, but I would personally find it amusing.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:31 AM
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21:Confrontation politics. If Obama would keep nominating justices futher & further left, and the Senate rejects say three in a row, the story would change to "Doesn't the Senate like anybody? Who gets to appoint Justices, anyway?"

Republicans have long learned that persistance pays. People, media, Senators all get tired of fighting. Wear. Them. Down.

But this tactic isn't Obama's style. the stealthy 12-dimensional master of pre-emptive surrender. He gives the center-right what they want before they even ask, and leaves them sputtering in confusion.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:33 AM
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A more likely scenario: the nomination will go through without any major problems. She'll be part of the Supreme Court by the fall. Are the Maine Moderates really going to suddenly get religion on party loyalty on this specific issue, especially given that Sotomayor's pro-corporate credentials (the true content of nihilistic centrism) are impeccable?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:35 AM
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I want to know what she'll rule on Obama's indefinite detention stuff.

OT, but Ross Douthat today .


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:35 AM
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29:You won't get to know that:issues & cases that are likely to come up will not be discussed in any degree of detail.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:38 AM
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29.2: And Language Log on why he's full of shit.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:40 AM
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30: obviously, but what I'm saying is that I'm most interested in her views on executive power. Those will have to be gotten from her record, but it might also be posible to ask some questions about them.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:41 AM
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I confess to not having read this Stanley Fish post in full, but I'm annoyed with this framing:

An Obama judge will not ask, "Does the ruling I'm about to make fit neatly into the universe of legal concepts?" but rather, "Is the ruling I'm about to make attentive to the needs of those who have fared badly in the legislative process because no lobbyists spoke for their interests?" Obama's critics object that this gets things backwards. Rather than reasoning from legal principles to results, an Obama judge will begin with the result he or she desires and then figure out how to get there by what only looks like legal reasoning.

Now, I get that Fish only claims to be channeling Obama's critics. But I thought the whole point of cases that make it all the way to the Supreme Court was that they were confusing and ambiguous, with several possible "right" answers given various sets of legal principles.

Am I missing something? The argument here IS ostensibly about which set of legal principles a judge should be applying, right? And the subtext is that conservatives think that liberal principles aren't actually principles, but that they start at the results they want and then work backwards to dream up principles that would justify them?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:42 AM
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If Obama would keep nominating justices futher & further left, and the Senate rejects say three in a row, the story would change to "Doesn't the Senate like anybody?

How many candidates would Obama need to nominate before the Senate, abashed before his tenacity, finally appointed Mumia Abu-Jamal?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:44 AM
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34: Oh, don't be silly. I'm rooting for Ward Churchill. That should only take about 147 other picks.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:51 AM
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I really don't think Obama is playing "maybe it will confuse the rabbit if we run away more" with the SC picks, let alone policy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:53 AM
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32:She didn't exactly seen a lot of executive power cases in her career;I think DC Circuit gets them all.
SS is ok on civil rights, but the war powers and CIC stuff is a level far beyond that.

I could cite and link, but the experts are saying we don't and can't know.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:58 AM
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The BBC profile says that when she was in private practice she specialised in intellectual property. Anybody know her position on this? Free internet, for or against?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:00 AM
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29, 31: And if I had time and was not swamped with work, a link to that Lawyers Guns and Money (?) post arguing against the claim that the NYT appointing this "likeable," "reasonable" guy was not going to lead to a lot of woman-shaming.

Seriously, after a semi-coherent beginning, the second half of that column takes a wild 45-degree turn into why bad, dirty women need to be stigmatized. Talk about repulsive.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:03 AM
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32:Look, the usual suspects like her fine. Glenn Greenwald and Christy Hardin Smith are enthusiastic. Jonathan Turley is not so thrilled

Christy Hardin Smith

CHS in comments:

I've been reading a lot of her opinions of late -- they are geared toward mechanics of law and common sense resl world application, and not toward overarching theoretical implications. So it doesn't surprise me that Turley -- whose intellect tends toward theory and larger construct -- doesn't jibe with her approach. Truly.

But having had to survive in that "real world" trial day in and day out of my former practice, I really appreciate a lot of that approach from her. And I'll try to detail why in post over the next few days.

I just have to find time to write them out. *g*

Now I would go with Turley rathr than CHS, thinking that indefinite detention or military tribunals have to be shot down on theoretical or principled grounds, but like I said, Glenn Greenwald is pleased.

I do think we spend too much time worrying about the troglodytes and not enough time purifying and purging our own side, but my heroes are Robespierre and Lenin, so grain of salt.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:09 AM
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Well I for one am thrilled that we finally know who the most left-wing judge in US history is.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:10 AM
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[Wanders back in from mailing some graphs to DeLong]
13 10: I get completely stuck on how an originalist can think that women have any constitutional right to equal treatment under the Civil Rights Amendments. Plainly, the drafters of those amendments didn't think they mandated equal treatment for women under the law.

17: But most of them explicitly say they do, whether or not they mean it -- that's one line of opposition to the ERA, that it's made unnecessary by the fact that the Constitution mandates equal treatment for all. I just don't know how an originalist justifies that belief.

Well, let's think like a Regent University (a Southern christian institution) grad!:

The official Web site of the Southern Baptist Convention lists ten "Position Statements" on various contemporary issues quoted below in whole or in part.[...]
Women in ministry -- Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. The role of pastor, however, is specifically reserved for men.

It's all in the wrist, baby!... or whaddya mean by equal, exactly?

max
['It's equal in some sense... kinda.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:16 AM
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I on the other hand just spent 20 mins hunting round the internet to see if it was possible to gin up a workable dsquared-style "Ward Churchill is an Aboriginalist" joke without getting myself into trouble, but my conclusion is that it is currently a term of art only in Art Criticism, so the worst I risk is no one knowing what I'm talking about.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:17 AM
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38: It'll be on Boing Boing within 24 hours, surely.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:31 AM
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I totally agree w/ LB's puzzlement about the originalism/women's rights link. That is to say, there is no link. Ditto for "originalist" arguments that affirmative action is unconstitutional-- there is simply no way to make a coherent originalist argument in favor of a "color blind" constitution or 14th amendment in the sense of, say, the majority opinion in the Parents Involved case. In fact, right wingers usually don't even pretend that their anti-affirmative action arguments derive from originalism.

On Sotomayor, I do very much like the fact that we'll get a former trial judge on the Supreme Court. That might be her most important contribution. And I agree with Kotsko -- the nomination will sail through because she's not seen as a threat to business.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:35 AM
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39: Seriously, after a semi-coherent beginning, the second half of that column takes a wild 45-degree turn into why bad, dirty women need to be stigmatized.

They have to have equality (of treatment) with good, Christian women?

max
['Just a thought.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:36 AM
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Seriously, after a semi-coherent beginning, the second half of that column takes a wild 45-degree turn into why bad, dirty women need to be stigmatized. Talk about repulsive.

Exactly. Based on my knowledge of the stats, it seems like it's not unreasonable to say that some combination of increased single parenthood, workplace responsibilities forced by declining middle-class incomes, and possibly other cultural stuff has led to a small net drop in women's happiness relative to men. (A lot of this depends on what you think the answers to those "are you happy" questions are measuring, and whether that's consistent over time, but anyway it's not an unreasonable argument to make). But then there's this switch to saying that all this complex web of social issues can only be handled by (presumably) women withholding sex from men, which can then only be enforced by proper slut-shaming. Weird and sort of disturbing.

He gets that it's weird at some level, otherwise he wouldn't have been so careful to mention shaming divorcing men as well, like that could ever be more than a sideshow.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:45 AM
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Semi-OT: Prop 8 upheld, but legally performed same-sex marriages not dissolved. As expected.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:56 AM
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As they said over in languagelog's comments, if feminism has been so good for men, what is he bitching about?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:04 AM
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C'mon Greg, stop blaming granny and just come out and say "What else would you expect from some Puerto Rican from the projects?".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:08 AM
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50: Uh, wow. He just about does say that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:10 AM
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49 -- She also has no kids, no spouse, and a guaranteed great pension and health care plan. Why not spend it all?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:11 AM
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But then there's this switch to saying that all this complex web of social issues can only be handled by (presumably) women withholding sex from men, which can then only be enforced by proper slut-shaming. Weird and sort of disturbing.

I think his argument is bogus regardless, but he explicitly says that what he actually advocates is expanding the umbrella of shame to target men that he somehow thinks are responsible for the rise in single motherhood and the attendant putative rise in female unhappiness:

"There's no necessary reason why feminists and cultural conservatives can't join forces -- in the same way that they made common cause during the pornography wars of the 1980s -- behind a social revolution that ostracizes serial baby-daddies and trophy-wife collectors as thoroughly as the "fallen women" of a more patriarchal age."


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:11 AM
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53: true 'nuff. More shame! Shame for all!

It's the only solution to how tricky freedom is.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:17 AM
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Oh yeah. Good times...


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:10 PM
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"There's no necessary reason why feminists and cultural conservatives can't join forces -- in the same way that they made common cause during the pornography wars of the 1980s

55 to this. Stupid html.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:11 PM
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50: What. The. Fuck.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:22 PM
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It is refreshing seeing a Republican come out and say "Lack of financial assets is prima facie evidence of bad character." It's the kind of thing you suspect people of thinking, but rarely gets said out loud.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:25 PM
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52: That, for sure.

Plus the world is a bit more complicated than just having kids or a spouse. I've certainly known more than a few folks who were financially responsible for extended family members who were disabled, destitute, or just old and alone. Heck, even helping out a favorite niece or nephew with college costs could leave you without a lot of cash in the bank.

It's just such a myopic, hyper-nuclear focus on the world. Geez. I'm sorry I was ever forced to buy his economics textbook.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:31 PM
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58: ?

Lack of financial assets in a person with a stable, high income, I think you mean. (And he doesn't actually say anything about "bad character"--just a propsensity to spend earned income.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:36 PM
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(But I completely agree with 52.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:37 PM
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60, 61: 52 has it. Savings are supposed to be insurance against dips in income, which aren't so much an issue when one is Constitutionally entitled to a nice income for life.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:43 PM
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From the NYT:

Mr. Cornyn said the nominee "must prove her commitment to impartially deciding cases based on the law, rather than based on her own personal politics, feelings, and preferences."

One wonders whether Mr. Cornyn believes that white men must prove the same thing?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:45 PM
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In case you wondered what John Yoo thought about the nomination.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:48 PM
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Argh. 50's link was bad enough, and then I had to click on the link in 64.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:53 PM
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Why does anyone care what John Yoo thinks about anything?

That said, it's somewhat odd that his main criticism seems to be that she's too... moderate? And that Obama's missed an opportunity to pick one of the more progressive options?

That's... my criticism too. Weird. (Of course, his first and last paragraphs are inconsistent with this and suggestive of some other criticism, although what exactly that criticism would be is somewhat unclear.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:54 PM
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GM has incomplete information, I think. Federal employees have mandatory contributions into a federally run pseudo-401(k) even if they choose not to save. If this definitely non-empty account is not listed as an asset on whatever form she has to fill out, her savings may be considerable.
Disclosure requirements may be weak for this account because one can't stash ill-gotten gains there.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:56 PM
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Her record is skimpy. For example, I have read what 1,500,000 conservative commentators think about her, and apparently she has only been involved in one decision, in which she upheld the will of legislators. A liberal activist overturnalist who flew under the radar for this many years scares me.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:56 PM
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(He doesn't couch it as "moderate". He couches it as "stupid"... erm, "undistingushed". (Though with "sterling credentials".) And she's a poor choice because she'll be just like Souter, who she's replacing? Come again, Yoo?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:58 PM
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That said, it's somewhat odd that his main criticism seems to be that she's too... moderate? And that Obama's missed an opportunity to pick one of the more progressive options?

John Yoo = bob mcmanus. Just as I suspected.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 12:59 PM
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I emailed him, since there was an email author link at the bottom. I'll let you know if he replies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:00 PM
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63: Duh. Obviously white men are impartial by definition.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:00 PM
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White men are the default human beings, bphd. Everyone else is a subset of them.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:01 PM
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71: about what?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:01 PM
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Persons other than white men have special interests, B. And we wouldn't want the Supreme Court beholden to special interests, now would we?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:02 PM
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It's sort of hilarious, actually, that Yoo, of all people, is criticizing the Sotomayor pick on the grounds that she's not going to completely reinvent the law.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:04 PM
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Everything about this nomination is driving me bonkers. She was not my choice for reasons pretty orthogonal to the faux Republican oppposition, but Jesus. Even Jonathan Turley is being an utter wanker (a side he shows from time-to-time). The MSNBC clip thatTPM links here is pretty horrendous. Yoo is the icing on the crazy cake.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:10 PM
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74: To suggest that somebody whose claim to fame was blatantly misrepresenting the law in order to greenlight war crimes would be better off crawling back under their rock than criticizing other people's legal philosophies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:13 PM
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I don't really expect a reply.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:13 PM
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Hmm. That strikes me as unlikely to get a response.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:14 PM
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64: Yoo is preparing his war crimes defense by showing that, when writing in good faith and employing his deepest scholarship, he is incoherent.

Thus, he didn't knowingly employ foolish arguments to support torture.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:17 PM
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And also, he doesn't really criticize her legal philosophy, does he? Just her lack of "firepower". And, implicitly, her penchant for "voting her emotions and politics rather than the law". (Although he doesn't really accuse her on this last point. He just... wonders about it? It's a very strange editorial, really.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:18 PM
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To state the obvious, the biggest freaking annoyance is how the media discussion around this centrist Catholic* business-leaning pick shrinks the Overton Window. Just like, "Bill Clinton: Is He or Isn't He a Socialist?" from the '90s.

* I will confess that I found this weighed against her in my opinion (due to current representation on the court, not intrinsically), but I'm not sure if it is an intellectually defensible stance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:23 PM
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82: It is complete conservative/Republican bullshit verbal ju-jitsu. See Michael Bérubé's prescient post, Konservative Koans. They would be even more vociferous in their opposition to the straw man candidate that Yoo painsts as preferable.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:27 PM
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I couldn't read anymore of Yoo's column after he channeled Yoda in the third sentence.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:29 PM
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I'm not sure if it is an intellectually defensible stance

US demographics:
Protestant 51%
Catholic 25%
Non-believer 15%
Jewish 1.2%

SCOTUS demographics (with Sotomayor):
Catholic 67%
Jewish 22%
Protestant 11%

I don't know whether it's defensible either, but I've never let that stop me before. Those numbers are fucked up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:30 PM
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Now, now. It's not John Yoo's fault he's not a real white man.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:32 PM
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86: too many Catholics and Jews? Let's have some more Bob Jones grads, please.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:34 PM
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The Catholic thing is weird -- I've tried to figure out if there's anything driving it, or if it's just coincidence that Catholics keep on getting nominated. My current theory is that right wing religious types would block an atheist, and would think of a liberal Protestant as effectively an atheist, while a right-wing evangelical would have parallel problems on the other side -- Catholics come off as seriously Christian enough to satisfy people with a religious litmus test, but appear less likely to leftists to have right-wing judicial positions totally determined by their religion. Or it could be a coincidence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:34 PM
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Hm. It wouldn't begin to occur to me to think of it that way. Besides, I bet Alito secretly worships Satan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:35 PM
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Catholics come off as seriously Christian enough to satisfy people with a religious litmus test, but appear less likely to leftists to have right-wing judicial positions totally determined by their religion

I would suggest that was it, but 7 of the 9 current justices were appointed by Republicans, and they've not generally seemed too predisposed to care much what leftists might think about right-wing judicial positions totally determined by their religion. So I'm not sure that's it. I'm surprised we don't have more right-wing evangelicals, honestly.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:39 PM
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Catholics have a much better tradition of thinking hard about tough questions than evangelicals do.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:42 PM
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I think 88 may get at part of it. A right-wing Catholic has a lot more options for education that are both ideologically comfortable and status-y. Homeschool to Bob Jones to Harvard Law is a much tougher row to hoe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:42 PM
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83.last: Yeah, the NPR crew pointed out this morning that Sotomayor's confirmation would make the Court 2/3 Catholic (6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and 1 Protestant).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:43 PM
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I'm surprised we don't have more right-wing evangelicals, honestly.

They were betrayed by Souter, an observant Protestant, and had no trust in Harriet Meirs, an evangelical

It's about the lil' babies, and only Catholics can be trusted.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:45 PM
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94: Oops, totally pwned. I don't object to it, but I hadn't been keeping count, so I didn't realize it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:45 PM
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White men are the default human beings, bphd. Everyone else is a subset of them.

Not a subset of them, an imperfect imitation.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:45 PM
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The religious makeup of the court is another reason for Obama to appoint himself. Who else will speak for the seekrit Muslims?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:48 PM
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I think it's partly reflective of the fact that estblishment republicanism doesn't really give a shit about evangelicals; they're pawns in an electoral game. They're probably even a little scared of evangelicals, who might be unpredictable. What if one of them read the bible in a funny mood one day and decided that Jesus guy really was pro-labor after all? The horror.

So Catholics get nominated instead. Conservative-looking enough to appease the right; less perceived "looney" risk for the business community. (You'll recall that the business community was mighty damn unpleased with the Harriett Meiers stunt Bush pulled.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:49 PM
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The Catholic thing is weird

For the five current ones, it's so that when the abortion questions come up during the hearings, the right wing gets to scream that they're being discriminated against because of their religion and how dare you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:49 PM
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Jonathan Turley and Nathan Lane: separated at birth?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:50 PM
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doesn't really give a shit about evangelicals

Obviously, but it's not like there aren't plenty of mainline Protestants out there. Restricting it to ones with law degrees, I'd wager they hugely outnumber evangelicals.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:51 PM
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102: I think pretty much any mainline Protestant with a law degree would get hammered by the right as a hypocritical non-Christian. This is something that drives me batty, but remember talking about Howard Dean's manifest discomfort with religion, which is symptomatic of how Democrats have to move away from their hardline secularism and contempt for the religious (admittedly, that wasn't so much him getting hammered by the right, but by Ogged. Same difference.)? When of course Dean is a churchgoing mainline Protestant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:54 PM
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Not one nominated by a Republican.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:55 PM
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Does mainline Protestantism even count as religion?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:57 PM
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And Sotomayor will now get hammered as a hypocritical non-Christian by the right. Just as they now do with Jimmy Carter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:57 PM
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102: right, I was talking about evangelicals in response to LB's 89. But I do think it's right that (1) evangelicals are an important electoral group for Republicans and (2) evangelicals view mainline Protestants as suspciously liberal on abortion/gay rights/similar issues, whereas (conservative) Catholics are (perceived to be) dependably reactionary. So often Catholics get the nod.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 1:58 PM
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104: so what's your theory, tough guy?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:02 PM
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My theory is the right would oppose Jesus Christ himself if he were nominated by a Democratic president.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:03 PM
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109: of course, in the current political climate. (As the left would oppose anyone nominated by a Republican president, no? Even if the record looks okay, you assume the nominator must know something you don't.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:06 PM
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109: And well they should, considering that he's a flaming leftist.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:08 PM
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As the left would oppose anyone nominated by a Republican president, no?

Apparently not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:08 PM
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To speak up for the oppressed evangelicals, I think it might also be hard for a conservative evangelical Protestant with a biography that gave them conservative evangelical cred ("Bob Jones grads") to make it through Senate confirmation. The 'liberal media' isn't politically liberal, but they do think bible-thumpers are weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:09 PM
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83: Don't tell Bill Donohue, please.

The Catholic thing is weird to me only inasmuch as it simply doesn't occur to me that it's a deal one way or the other. I think it seems like a "thing" if you're from the east coast, b/c there (ime) Catholic = ethnic = other; that is, the default is WASP. The only Catholic on the court who seems "marked" to me is Roberts, because I'd expect him to be a WASP. Everyone else just seems "normal." My hypothesis, which I'm sure will be shot down, is that this is b/c in CA, or at least where I grew up, basically everyone was Catholic except for the occasional Exceptionally White Wasp.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:10 PM
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109: Of course they would. Fucking hippie.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:11 PM
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From 112: The White House swearing-in ceremony took place three hours after the Senate voted 78 to 22 to confirm Roberts. All 55 Republicans, half the 44 Democrats and independent Sen. James M. Jeffords (Vt.) voted yes.... The vote reflected the gap between many Senate Democrats and the liberal groups that strongly opposed Roberts and are important to the party's base.

If you meant that to be evidence for anything other than the proposition that Republicans are far more united in their fealty to the right than Democrats are to the left (which I think is news to no one), I don't think it does what you hoped.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:12 PM
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105:Does mainline Protestantism even count as religion?

My prejudice will out here if I am not careful.

There is a historic connection between Anglo-American conservatism and what, is "High-Churchism" a word? Catholics, Episcopalians, hard Presbyterians. I mean, would Muggeridge or Buckley or Waugh or Lewis have become Southern Baptists?

But the High Church/Low Church thing isn't just English, or Anglo-phile, I think there is a French, and maybe a Canadian version.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:15 PM
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My theory is the right would oppose Jesus Christ himself


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:15 PM
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113: assuming they had traditional credentials (comparable to Sotomayor, which even Yoo admits are "sterling"), I don't think you'd hear too much open criticism in the Senate/media, because people would be worried about appearing prejudiced against evangelics.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:17 PM
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116: eh, I meant it to be evidence of the fact that I'm still annoyed at how easily Senate Dems rolled on Roberts. Completely ineffective, marginalized opposition to a nominee doesn't strike me as particularly meaningful.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:19 PM
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The religious affiliations of the people of California:
Protestant - 33%
---Baptist - 4%
---Presbyterian - 3%
--- Methodist - 2%
Roman Catholic - 31%
LDS - 2%
Jewish - 2%
Muslim - 1%
other Religions - 4%
non-Religious - 21%

The United States overall is about 22% Catholic. The most Catholic state is Rhode Island; the least is Mississippi.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:19 PM
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Yeah, "Bob Jones grads" isn't a fair stand-in for evangelicals at large (cf Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:21 PM
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IF OBAMA WAS DEDICATED TO BIPARTISANSHIP HE WOULD HAVE NOMINATED DOUTHAT


Posted by: OPINIONATED RIGHT-WING CATHOLIC | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:23 PM
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119, 122: Part of it is the difference between 'evangelical' and 'conservative evangelical'. "Bob Jones" isn't a fair stand-in for evangelicals in general, but it's fairer for the subclass of evangelicals whose religion dictates enough in the way of social conservativism to make the hard right-wing happy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:26 PM
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"Fairer", above, should be read to mean "I'm not actually sure how fair, but still probably fairer."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:28 PM
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121: "where I grew up," then. Down south here everyone's a freaking protestant of the particularly smug and fundie Saddleback church variety, it seems. At least all the white people are.

You gotta remember I went to a Catholic h.s. and grew up in a Franciscan downtown parish in (one of?) the only city at the time that wasn't majority white. Lots of Filipinos, lots of Mexicans, Vietnamese, Cambodians. Older populations of Portuguese and Basque. Catholic, Catholic, Catholic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:30 PM
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It does indeed make sense that a majority of the people at your Catholic HS would be Catholic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:31 PM
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I think the Catholic thing is mostly a pure coincidence, but to the extent it's not it's that Catholic non-hispanic graduates of good law schools were, on average, likely to be more conservative than mainline protestant or Jewish grads of the same institutions, for reasons I don't quite understand.

Evangelicals are not at all common among elite lawyers, and the SCT doesn't really represent protestant America. The SCT is 1/9 southern (Thomas, though he went to Yale, worked in DC, and is sui generis) and 2/9 western/midwestern (Stevens and Kennedy). Breyer was originally a jew from SF, but he was a judge in New England and his accent is weirdly old-school East Coast WASP patrician, like from a 30s movie; I've always wondered if it was an affectation. And Roberts isn't from DC, but he is surely completely of DC.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:33 PM
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119: 113: assuming they had traditional credentials (comparable to Sotomayor, which even Yoo admits are "sterling"),

Well, I was gonna skip the you-know-what of Yoo's column, but to hell with it. Because the column pissed me off. (Which means I agree with PF's 81 and JPS's 84 and Apo's 109, while still agreeing with LB that the R's see Catholics as properly stealthy.) Pardon moi.

President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor shows that empathy has won out over excellence in the White House.

Translation on: 'A-ha! Here's my dog whistle!'

Sotomayor has sterling credentials: Princeton, Yale Law School, former prosecutor, and federal trial and appellate judge.

'Like me! And I R SMRAT!'

But credentials do not an excellent justice make.

'She's.... {whisper} different.'

Justice Souter, whom Sotomayor would replace, had an equally fine c.v., but turned out to be a weak force on the high court.

'Weak... weak like a liberal! Not a man's man, like me! I supported torture and I used to watch the videos and... um, anyways.'

Obama had some truly outstanding legal intellectuals and judges to choose from -- Cass Sunstein, Elena Kagan, and Diane Wood come immediately to mind.

'But face it: a bunch of weak liberals. If the situation had been reversed, I would've compared a weakling like Cass Sunstein to a stout business conservative like Sotomayor.'

The White House chose a judge distinguished from the other members of that list only by her race.

'She's not, you know... white, or even better, Asian.'

Obama may say he wants to put someone on the Court with a rags-to-riches background,

'Not, mind that, that that income is really rich, but close enough for government work! HA HA! Anyways, if she was really deserved the money she got from that rags-to-riches story she'd be a Republican. Instead, she's just another affirmative-action choice government employee.'

but locking in the political support of Hispanics must sit higher in his priorities.

'Obama doesn't make properly impartial decisions like, say, George Bush. I love insinuating shit like that.'

Sotomayor's record on the bench, at first glance, appears undistinguished. She will not bring to the table the firepower that many liberal academics are asking for.

'NEENER NEENER NEENER! I love saying that. That always weirds out the liberals. Especially when I'm teaching.'

There are no opinions that suggest she would change the direction of constitutional law as have Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, or Robert Bork and Richard Posner on the appeals courts.

'Face it, only conservatives have the balls to rewrite the law from the bench.'

Liberals have missed their chance to put on the Court an intellectual leader who will bring about a progressive revolution in the law.

'NEENER NEENER NEENER! GOD! I LOVE SAYING THAT! Especially when I'm watching torture videos and I'm... never mind.'

But conservatives should not be pleased simply because Sotomayor is not a threat to the conservative revolution in constitutional law begun under the Reagan administration.

'As Newt said, and as I have to say as well, because how could a differ from Newt? He might punish me, and he's a manly man. Like in those torture videos. And that's really HO.... um, never mind. Anyways, she's obviously William Ayers in a mask.'

Conservatives should defend the Supreme Court as a place where cases are decided by a faithful application of the Constitution, not personal politics, backgrounds, and feelings.

'Like Newt said.'

Republican senators will have to conduct thorough questioning in the confirmation hearings to make sure that she will not be a results-oriented voter, voting her emotions and politics rather than the law.

'Girl! GIRL! GIRL! Man, if we talk enough shit, I bet we can block her. Wassup with nominating the bitch, Obama? Losing your touch?'

One worrying sign is Sotomayor's vote to uphold the affirmative action program in New Haven, CT, where the city threw out a written test for firefighter promotions when it did not pass the right number of blacks and Hispanics.

'If they'd had Asians in there, I bet they would have passed!'

Senators should ask her whether her vote in that case, which is under challenge right now in the Supreme Court (where I signed an amicus brief for the Claremont Center on Constitutional Jurisprudence),

'I read her lame lame decision and I am totally against it. This bitch is the SUXXOR. Not conservative at all.'

was the product of her "empathy" rather than the correct reading of the Constitution.

'Damn, I impress myself. I am one hot fuckin' lawyer. Anyways, like Newt said: total fucking radical liberal communist girl. GIRL! GIRL!'

Me again: ahem, YUCK.

max
['He's just got Newt's (and Rush's) cattle prod jammed up his ass. And he likes it that way.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:41 PM
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I looked it up mostly out of curiosity, since I wasn't surrounded by Catholics when I was in California, but I recognize that my experience was pretty idiosyncratic. It's a pretty Catholic state, tied for seventh.

I was surprised that there were any majority Catholic states. RI is 63% Catholic, which is interesting. I've just been reading Mayflower. Rhode Island was the only non-Puritan colony in New England in the 17th century.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:44 PM
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voting her emotions

Oy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:48 PM
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Evangelicals are not at all common among elite lawyers

This could be a matter of social class, or have roots in class, but I do partly see this as intrinsic not coincidental to the "low" or dissenting churches. "Evangelical" doesn't work for me, because I would include the Amish and Mennonite, for instance. (Mormons would be "High Church", and I know I should not extend this stuff much out of 19th Century England and JHN)

I would not easily characterize the difference as an anti-intellectualism. More like a different weight given to ritual and heirarchy as important to social cohesion, and universalism. Or something


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 2:55 PM
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You need a different term than "High Church" for whatever it is you're talking about, bob.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:10 PM
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131: Double oy.

It does indeed make sense that a majority of the people at your Catholic HS would be Catholic.

FWIW, where I live, many Catholic schools are made up of primarily non-Catholic students whose parents want to avoid public schools and can't afford other private schools. Sometimes they're Muslim, sometimes they're nonobservant, sometimes I don't know what they are. But a lot of them are emphatically NOT Catholic.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:13 PM
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How the hell do you figure Mormons are "High Church", bob? That just doesn't make sense.

I would be willing to believe that there's generational stuff at work here too. 30 years from now, there's going to be a lot more elite lawyers from an evangelical holy-roller background, simply because they're a lot better at organizing on campus than they were in the 1950s and 1960s when recent SCOTUS appointees were in school.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:18 PM
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133: "High Church" works for me. I don't know about the Mormons, though.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:23 PM
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I find the concept of conservative evangelical elite lawyers pretty implausible. Conservative evangelical beliefs don't seem to hold up well in the process of rigorous education.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:26 PM
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You gotta remember I went to a Catholic h.s. and grew up in a Franciscan downtown parish in (one of?) the only city at the time that wasn't majority white. Lots of Filipinos, lots of Mexicans, Vietnamese, Cambodians.

Only city in California or only city in the U.S.? Miami has been majority-minority since at least the late 70s, I think (and it's actually been majority Hispanic since the 90s).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:26 PM
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I find the concept of conservative evangelical elite lawyers pretty implausible. Conservative evangelical beliefs don't seem to hold up well in the process of rigorous education.

Yeah, but we're talking about legal education. I can see it.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:30 PM
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135.1:Rituals & Regalia, and heirarchies. And the fact that the "low" churches don't like them, and don't consider them kin.

133:You maybe prefer "bible-thumpers?"

I am trying to distinguish between Catholics (inc Greek Orthodox), Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians on the one hand, and Baptists, CoC, Mennonites, Puritans on the other. The Lutherans have High and Low variations (Neo-Lutheranism & Pietism)

My thesis would be that "low Church" traditions and sensibilities would be incompatible with the study of The Law.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:32 PM
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The percentage of Catholics on the court seems to be part of the much more broader phenomenon of Conservative "intellectuals" being more likely to be Catholic or Jewish than evangelical. Look at the editors of National Review or The Weekly Standard, etc.

I also agree that this is partly generational, though. In elite academic grad school programs (and I would wager law schools, but others would have to speak to this), there have been more and more kids entering from a Biola or Wheaton in the last ten years, if not a B.J.U.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:38 PM
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You have Presbyterians wrong side of the divide.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 3:44 PM
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doesn't mormonism lurch right across the spectrum from low -- when founded -- towards (latterday latterdayism) what bob's terming "high"? it's an outfall of the second great awakening, albeit a highly idiosyncratic (not to say ideosyncretic hoho) one: revivalist convulsions are pretty much by definition "low"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:04 PM
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Of the current Catholic justices, two went to Catholic schools for undergrad; Scalia, Georgetown and Thomas, Holy Cross*. The others all graduated from traditional "prestige" schools (don't know if any of them transfered, however).

*Thomas is a bit of an odd case in that he had been raised as a Catholic but was a member of his wife's (evangelical-leaning but mainstream denomination, I think) protestant church at the time of his nomination. He went back to the Catholic church in the late '90s or thereabouts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:05 PM
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if not a B.J.U.

Sadly, my application was rejected.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:16 PM
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Wow, pic of Sotomayor's mom on the NYT - uncanny resemblance.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:17 PM
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Good grief, how could fruit hang so low for so long? Where'd everyone go?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:46 PM
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Of the current Catholic justices, two went to Catholic schools for undergrad; Scalia, Georgetown

Yeah, but it's not like the Jesuits count.... (Somewhat more seriously, if you heard that someone was a Georgetown grad, would you assume cultural conservative? In the same way as Biola?)

More seriously, I suspect that "Catholic" was a good proxy for "educated legal conservative" at one point, and I suspect it's generational.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:51 PM
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148.1: No, not at all, but rather was responding to A right-wing Catholic has a lot more options for education that are both ideologically comfortable and status-y. Most of the "better" colleges started by mainstream protestant denominations no longer have direct denominational association, while Catholic schools still do (have any "secularized" completely?).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:58 PM
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Good grief, how could fruit hang so low for so long? Where'd everyone go?

The problem is you did not go down far enough.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:58 PM
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Sigh. I wasn't claiming that most of the people at my Catholic HS were Catholic; I was trying to give a sense of the various reasons that Catholicism was the cultural norm for me. (Especially given that my folks were very *not* uber-practicing Catholics. Dad's uber-Catholicism has developed over time.)

Anyway, fwiw, Witt's right in 134. One of my two best friends in h.s. was a Catholic; the other was a Lutheran. Another one of my small good h.s. friend circle was a Jew.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 4:59 PM
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138: If memory serves, it was one of the only ones in the U.S. in the late 60s/early 70s. A friend of mine sent me an article about it years ago, so I could be misremembering.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 5:01 PM
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149: Oh, gotcha. I think that's right, or at least it was right for people SC-nominee-age.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 5:05 PM
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"Bloix" in comments at LGM makes an argument about Fundamentalist Protestants and The Law that I was trying for above, although I was attempting a little more nuanced and empathetic explanation.

Just below that post is a link to Ramesh Ponnamaru, or however his name is spelled. I don't read such people, and in my ideal world my allies wouldn't either.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 5:11 PM
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Rhode Island was the only non-Puritan colony in New England in the 17th century.

THE LORD DID REVEAL HIMSELF TO ME, SITTING ON A THRONE OF JUSTICE, AND ALL THE WORLD APPEARING BEFORE HIM. AND THOUGH I MUST COME TO NEW ENGLAND, YET I MUST NOT FEAR NOR BE DISMAYED.


Posted by: OPINIONATED ANNE HUTCHINSON | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 5:14 PM
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Too lazy to do the research, but I wonder how many cities in the U.S. have never been majority white.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 6:10 PM
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154: "Bloix" in comments at LGM makes an argument about Fundamentalist Protestants and The Law that I was trying for above, although I was attempting a little more nuanced and empathetic explanation.

Well, I was gonna respond to what you said before, but I basically agree with Bloix, except I would add that: I wouldn't really consider Mormons to be Protestants, although I am entirely sympathetic to their claim that they follow Jesus (after all, they've got another testament of JC). Followers of the Prophet (Mohammed!) could say something similar since they believe Jesus was one of the line of true Prophets. But they're not Christians in the sense most commonly used. (When you get down to it, neither are Universalists.) I would then amplify what Bloix says: most politically conservative non-Catholic, non-Mormon Christians (i.e. anti-abortion types) are charismatics, fundamentalists or dispensationalists, none of whom are (bluntly) going to be all that big on rule of law. So no potential candidate is likely to have gone to an acceptable institution (an Ivy, that is), or have an acceptable-in-DC track record (Roy Moore!), or they're more attracted to politics, or etc. etc. Knocking out minorities, most women, Mormons and Jews, leaves a fairly tight group of white guys who are unacceptable to the press and bidnessmen. I am certain they see this as bigotry against true Christians.

So, Catholics it is.

max
['Bonus: the Catholic tradition of torture of heretics! OK, I probably shouldn't say that.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 6:24 PM
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Honolulu


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 6:54 PM
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I wonder how many cities in the U.S. have never been majority white.

I don't know either, but I bet it depends very heavily on how you define "city" and "U.S."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:01 PM
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Shorter 11: Bork is an inkblot on the constitution.


Posted by: E | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:07 PM
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158: I assume so, but don't know for sure. And yes to the first part of 159 (as to the second, I was thinking 50 states + DC; adding territories would complicate things in uninteresting (to me) ways).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:08 PM
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161: Right, but do we mean "only after becoming part of the political United States"? Because I'm sure there were cities in Florida and Louisana, not to mention massive areas of the southwest, plus Alaska, that had majority-non-white cities after European settlement but before becoming formally a part of the United States.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:11 PM
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161: What I had in mind was cities that are now part of the political United States and that have never had a white majority at any time in their history, before or after becoming part of the political United States. I'd bet on Honolulu (and other places in HI, depending on how small you want to go in defining "city"), and I assume there are at least some decent-sized towns in some of the places you mention (particularly the Southwest), but dunno.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:16 PM
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Clintonian preamble to 12: Amending the constitution made it more perfect.


Posted by: E | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:16 PM
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I wonder how many cities in the U.S. have never been majority white.
There is a little matter of genocide.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:17 PM
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Thanks, minneapolitan. That's helpful.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:23 PM
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Well, San Antonio is currently 61% Hispanic, and my guess is that it has been at least that. I would say the same of El Paso.

Wiki does the demos twice. 64% White, inc Hispanic and 61% Hispanic of any race


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:29 PM
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It's very odd that Hawaii is hardly ever mentioned in popular American discussions of race.

It's not really mostly about race at all is why. It's about impacted historical struggles (predominantly black-white) whose parties can be racially labelled.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:34 PM
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I guess I think of "high" vs. "low" church mostly in terms of Aglicanism, and in a derivative way about divides within other Protestant traditions, like within Lutheranism. But I can see how you could use it to divide Episcopalians from Baptists, although to make that distinction I'd use mainline/Evangelical.

In any case, I don't think it does any good to include Catholics in the schema; the tradition, particularly in the U.S., is way too different.

Maybe liturgical/non-liturgical?

Mormonism, as usual, is an odd case. Tierce is right about its definite "low" origins, and it remains non-liturgical except in its temple worship. On the other hand, Mormonism has been all about economic and political integration for at least a century, so by now it's practically an article of faith among U.S. Mormons that God prefers His people to be upper middle class if they can manage it. Tons of Mormon lawyers. BYU started a law school rather than a med school in the '70s. There's apparently quite a Mormon legal mafia in DC and a bit of one in NYC. Jay Bybee's a Mormon, and now he's an appellate judge.

What keeps Republican presidents from appointing a Mormon to the Supreme Court is that the Republicans can take the Mormon vote almost completely for granted. Catholics are up for grabs.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:43 PM
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"always been at least that"

Wiki says mestizo mixtures grow in Mexico as you go South, maximizing in the Yucatan. But nobody really knows. I have seen numbers as high as 80% for Mexicans with some Native American genes.

This week, with Sotomayor, are we counting Hispanics as non-white? I can't keep track.

Mitochondrial DNA in Puerto Ricans, 80% of whom call themselves "white".


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 7:43 PM
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What keeps Republican presidents from appointing a Mormon to the Supreme Court is that the Republicans can take the Mormon vote almost completely for granted.

Well, that, and the Baptists don't like them. Reminder to all: the Republican party is a very silly party.

170: This week, with Sotomayor, are we counting Hispanics as non-white?

Yoo doesn't think they're white. And they're not Asian, so they must be 'other'.

Also, as Seen on TV, like 5 minutes ago: http://www.prayercross.com/

The commercial down there below the header is funny as hell.

max
['Act now and get the Ronco Bottle Cutter for just 9.95 more!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:19 PM
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166: Thanks, minneapolitan. That's helpful.
Oh, you're welcome! You see, Ward Churchill, whom I mentioned above, actually wrote a book called "A Little Matter of Genocide". So I thought it would be fun, and edifying, if I made a reference to that in my most recent comment. Just one of the many things I do to try to make Unfogged a happier and more productive place.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:29 PM
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There is a little matter of genocide.

Wait, someone killed all the white people? Was it Sotomayor? Because that would probably complicate the confirmation. Unless she really killed all the white people, in which case all bets are off.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:33 PM
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Threadmeld:
"When you pick up those guns you're always talkin' about, and start killin' whitey, I'll be right there with you"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:45 PM
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Ah, once again, my memory betrays me. What I meant to say was: "I'll tell you what you do, you go get you a gun and all those black folks you keep doin' so much talkin' about get guns, and come back ready to go down, then I'll be right down front killin' whitey."


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 8:48 PM
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Too lazy to do the research, but I wonder how many cities in the U.S. have never been majority white.

Eh. 80% of the country is white, and that percentage used to be higher. It's not all that surprising if there's only one or two or no cities that aren't majority white.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:10 PM
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Here's a list of New Mexico communities that are majority Hispanic today. If Hispanics are considered non-white (and in this context they probably should be), then the overwhelming majority of these towns have never been majority white. (There are a few that started out as Anglo settlements, but most are old Hispanic villages.)

The largest of the towns on the list, by a considerable margin, is Las Cruces, which, despite its name, originated as an Anglo settlement and was likely majority Anglo for at least part of its history. It's only 51% Hispanic now. It doesn't really count, then, and all the other towns on the list are much too small to be considered "cities" in any sense. The only cities in the state larger than Las Cruces are Santa Fe and Albuquerque, both of which were majority Hispanic for most of their history but since the nineteenth century have become majority Anglo.

So even in NM, one of the most likely places for there to be a city that has never had a white majority, there isn't one that even comes close.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:34 PM
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I get almost all of my information on current events from written sources, but weirdly enough I found out about the Sotomayor nomination on NPR. I was flipping through the radio stations while driving to Farmington today, and I happened to land on NPR just as they were reporting on it. I was surprised to hear them pronounce "Sotomayor" with the accent on the "a"; I've always assumed it was pronounced with the accent on the last syllable, as it would be in Spanish.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:43 PM
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I guess they were really pronouncing it with the main accent on the first syllable and a secondary accent on the third. This is a standard English stress pattern for words like this, so it's not really surprising except insofar as it reflects a greater degree of Anglicization than I had expected.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:45 PM
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I've always assumed it was pronounced with the accent on the last syllable, as it would be in Spanish.

That's the way Sotomayor pronounces it. What has happened to NPRs excruciatingly correct Spanish-name-pronouncing?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:48 PM
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80% of the country is white

I'm a bit surprised by this, actually. Not that I doubt your figures, but I guess I had assumed the country was not quite so white as that (in terms of US residency, I've only, so far, lived in Baltimore and NYC, which has no doubt skewed my perspective toward an exaggerated sense of multi-culti melting-pot).

I think Canada is about 85% white, and 40-45% Catholic, but I'm too lazy to look it up.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:55 PM
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That's the way Sotomayor pronounces it.

Okay, good. It would be really weird if she didn't. Yet another mark against NPR, then.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 9:57 PM
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74% white, 66% non-Hispanic white. There are a lot of white people in this country.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:00 PM
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Relevant to, um, something: I've heard from more than one Latino (in and/or from places including Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba something like, "People in the U.S. like to talk about race to avoid talking about class."

I gather that it's a pretty common thing. My stock answer is something like, "And people in many parts of Latin America like to talk about class to avoid talking about race. And we're all afraid to talk about the issue of indigenous peoples."

I swear I've had this sort of conversation a surprising number of times. Don't know what to make of it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:09 PM
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we're all afraid to talk about the issue of indigenous peoples.

Wow. That's an tellingly exclusive sentence if ever I wrote one. Sorry, indigenous peoples!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:11 PM
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Earlier this evening, I wasted two minutes of my life watching a CNN clip on the difficulties of pronouncing Sotomayor's name. How everyone seems to pronounce it a bit differently (the wackiness! the kookiness!), and even Obama (and he chose her, after all, when he could have selected a Jones or a Smith, so: go figure) seemed to hesitate over his pronunciation at this morning's press conference. The tone was along the lines of, "What will they [those wacky, kooky Hispanics, I guess] think of next?"

Also, she carries an umbrella with "feminist implications," given that it's adorned with portraits of famous literary ladies like Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.

I will never get those two minutes back, but it's my own damn fault for clicking on the link and rising to the bait.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:14 PM
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185: "exclusive" s/b "exclusionary"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:18 PM
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185: you've never seen fear until you've tried to get an indigenous person to talk about themselves. That's why Jared Diamond carries a waterboard.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:19 PM
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Per the link in 183, Native Americans comprise .68% of the US population. Think about that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:22 PM
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189: seriously! And they're always like "oh, this used to be our land" and "oh, we were here first". Then why aren't there more of you, eh? Uh huh. Stumped you there!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:29 PM
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It's always kind of stunning to me to see numbers like that, even though I have of course known for a long time that they're there. In NM it's more like 10%, which is still not much but enough to be a noticeable and influential segment of the population.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:33 PM
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I went to New Mexico a few months ago. Two things I noticed which I had never before seen more than once in a month:

- Native Americans
- cowboy hats

Also, every middle-aged woman seemed to dye her hair black. To fit in with the Native Americans! Amazing!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:36 PM
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All those things are indeed very common sights in NM. Where in the state did you go?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:40 PM
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Yeah, I mean, Massachusetts has almost no Native Americans. Killed or run off decades or centuries ago. There was a big controversy not too long ago stemming from attempts to gain recognition for a tribe that had long since lost its land and most of its membership, but which was aiming to get federal recognition (which I think they did) and build a casino (which they haven't, yet).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:40 PM
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193: Taos. Plus about five hours in Santa Fe.

For an academic conference. I tell you what, that is not a good place for an academic conference. You may have spent years of your life in Taos for all I know, but you probably have never seen or heard of Taos's convention center, such as it is.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:47 PM
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In fact, my current facebook profile photo was taken in Taos. And the other recent one is from Santa Fe.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:48 PM
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I have spent very little time in Taos. From what I know of it, however, particularly its size, I am surprised to hear that it even has a convention center.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:48 PM
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Why it's pretty as a picture!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:49 PM
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I've been skiing in Taos. That was pretty great.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:50 PM
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I think Canada is about 85% white, and 40-45% Catholic, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

Closer to 83% and 43% respectively, but not a bad estimate.
Percentage self reporting as christian is about the same as the US, but the catholic fraction is doubled.

By comparison to 189, Canadian census 2006 puts the aboriginal population at 3.75% (which is numerically something like 60% of the US population).


Posted by: canuck | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 10:50 PM
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Hey everybody! Come back!

Watch this!

*KLANG* *BOOM* *FLONG, FLONG* *PTEEEEEIIOOOOUUUUU*


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:34 PM
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Here, you insatiable internet devourer. It's not on topic, but it's cute.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:38 PM
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Seen it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:39 PM
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I'm still here. I should probably go to bed soon, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:45 PM
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Naw we can have a right old party discussing demographics!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:48 PM
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I guess I could go back to reading about cat domestication and confabulatory hypermnesia, but c'mon let's rap about, uh, Moqui cliff dwellings!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:51 PM
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If you wait long enough, the subjects of the British crown can tell you about the difference between "fuck all" and "nothing", Mr. Tweety.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:55 PM
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"Moqui" and "cliff dwelling" don't really go together, but sure.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:57 PM
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They don't? That came from brief googling of a site about cliff dwellings and an even briefer skim of the section on why Anasazi is deprecated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-09 11:58 PM
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Speaking of subjects of the British crown, the crown's representative in Canada is down with the gente.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:03 AM
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There's also this weird thing which I drove by on my trip but didn't stop at because it was closed for the season. It has very little to do with the Anasazi.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:03 AM
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Putting a distinctively-memorable dinosaur entryway on the front, the cave attracted curious travelers to investigate the unusual museum.

That'll happen.

But they don't serve drinks anymore? Super lame.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:06 AM
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"Moqui" is an old term for the Hopis, deprecated for the past century because it means (or sounds similar to the word for) "death" or "the dead." While many of the cliff dwellings in Arizona and Utah were likely built by ancestors of the Hopis, they all predate the formation of a cultural unit that can plausibly be identified as a precursor of the modern Hopi tribe.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:06 AM
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212: They took the dinosaur head off too. Now the entrance looks like a fake Anasazi ruin.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:07 AM
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213: and I'm guessing those cultural units didn't have much in the way of written language to determine what they were called?

Still, "the dead" or "our enemies" seem a little harsh. There should be a Navajo or Hopi word for "clever apartment dwellers from a super long time ago".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:09 AM
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214: they are simply no fun at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:10 AM
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I'm guessing those cultural units didn't have much in the way of written language to determine what they were called?

Indeed. Hence all this terminological confusion.

Still, "the dead" or "our enemies" seem a little harsh. There should be a Navajo or Hopi word for "clever apartment dwellers from a super long time ago".

Well, "Moqui" was a term for the modern Hopis, not their ancestors. There seems to be some confusion (which may just be on my part) about whether the "death" connotation actually belonged to the term originally or if it developed over time as the Spanish pronunciation of it changed. The term "Hopi" (which means "good") was proposed by the early anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes around 1900 and it ended up sticking.

The preferred Hopi term for the Anasazi is "Hisatsinom"; I'm not sure what it means. There is also another term, "Motisinom," that apparently refers to a different group of ancestors. I'm also not sure how this all fits together in the Hopi traditions, which seem to focus mainly on clan migrations. Perhaps some clans are descended from the Hisatsinom and some from the Motisinom. I should really look into this more. And the other pueblos, of course, have their own traditions and names for their ancestors, all of which differ from the Hopi ones.

In this context, "Anasazi" is as good a term as any, I figure (although we generally avoid it). But then, I'm generally sympathetic to the Navajo perspective on these things.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:20 AM
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I should really look into this more.

Report back!

Seriously, that's interesting; I can understand of course why you're sympathetic to the Navajo perspective, but it does literally mean "our enemies", right? Or does it not really carry that connotation as it's used?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:25 AM
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It does not literally mean "our enemies." "Our enemies" would be nihe'ena'í. Anaasází, the usual term for the occupants of the ruins, could be interpreted as "enemy ancestors," and has been, but it's not really the most natural interpretation and doesn't make a whole lot of sense logically. (How can an ancestor also be an enemy?) I suspect it's at least partly a folk etymology within Navajo, and perhaps in some contexts a deliberate pun. The original origins of the term are probably lost in the mists of time, but there are a variety of ways the first part of it could be interpreted as a modifier for "ancestors." There are also alternative pronunciations for which any relationship to the "enemy" term is pretty strained.

Furthermore, the Anasazi play a large role in Navajo legend, but it's by no means an exclusively adversarial role. They're generally thought of as non-Navajo and therefore "strangers" (which is actually another way the "enemy" term can be interpreted), although some clans do claim descent from them, but neither they nor the modern Pueblos are seen as necessarily antagonistic to the Navajos. While there has been a lot of interaction in historic times between Navajos and Pueblos, and some of it has been violent, a lot of it has been cooperative and there have even been periods of alliance between the Navajos and one Pueblo group or another. The Navajo-Hopi land disputes, which are the main cause of this dispute over the term "Anasazi," are of very recent origin.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:40 AM
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The Navajo-Hopi land disputes, which are the main cause of this dispute over the term "Anasazi," are of very recent origin.

Oh, huh. That sounds like the key wrinkle.

By the way, in re: nihe'ena'í: do you actually know Navajo? Because that would be insane.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:42 AM
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I know a little bit. I took a semester of it at UNM when I was a senior in high school. By the end of the semester it was getting so hard that my very basic background knowledge of a few words and phrases was no longer helpful, so I decided not to take the second semester. I've since forgotten a lot of it, but it's been coming back a bit since I've been in an environment where I hear it all the time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:46 AM
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221: I mean, it's like the hardest language, right? Insofar as it's possible to objectively determine that? Most of my background on this comes from reading synopses of John Woo movies -- and, I guess, articles about Klingon -- but isn't the grammar just implausibly complex? Also, I didn't realize it was spoken that much any more.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:48 AM
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Why would it be insane, Sifu? Understand you're walking a not-at-all-familiar-with-what-you're-on-about person through what you're on about.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:50 AM
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The worst pwnage is 3am-pwnage.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:53 AM
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223: the language is difficult enough that native speakers were recruited to essentially be human encryption engines in WWII. If I understand correctly (which, you know, chances are slim) it is wildly different from almost every other currently spoken human language. It may be in its own family?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:53 AM
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It's very difficult for English-speakers to learn, largely because it's very different from English in just about every way. The grammar isn't so much implausibly complex as complex in different ways from Indo-European languages. The verbal morphology is indeed insanely complicated, with a bewildering variety of affixes and enclitics, but the nominal morphology is dead simple: there's basically no nominal inflection at all, not even plural marking. Adjectives are equally simple. And even the verb, while incredibly complicated in theory, can in practice be reduced to a few common forms that are enough to get by.

And yeah, it's still very robust in usage. Virtually everyone over 30 years old speaks it fluently, and many prefer it to English. Many elderly people speak little to no English, but most people under 60 speak fluent English. People under 30 mostly don't speak Navajo, although many do, at least in more traditional areas, and more understand at least some. It may or may not survive indefinitely, but it's still very much alive at this point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:57 AM
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Typologically, Navajo is an agglutinating, polysynthetic head-marking language, but many of its affixes combine into contractions more like fusional languages. The canonical word order of Navajo is SOV. Athabaskan words are modified primarily by prefixes, which is unusual for an SOV language (suffixes are expected).
Navajo is a "verb-heavy" language -- it has a great preponderance of verbs but relatively few nouns. In addition to verbs and nouns, Navajo has other elements such as pronouns, clitics of various functions, demonstratives, numerals, postpositions, adverbs, and conjunctions, among others. Harry Hoijer grouped all of the above into a word-class which he called particles (i.e., Navajo would then have verbs, nouns, and particles). There is nothing that corresponds to what are called adjectives in English, this adjectival function being provided by verbs.

That's some Borgesian shit, right there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:58 AM
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but the catholic fraction is doubled.

Ça va sans dire.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:59 AM
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If I understand correctly (which, you know, chances are slim) it is wildly different from almost every other currently spoken human language. It may be in its own family?

No, it's actually in one of the largest language groups in North America. There are lots of other languages related to Navajo. What Navajo has (and has long had) that most of the others don't is lots and lots of speakers. The Navajo tribe has been the largest in the US for a long time, and as I mentioned until very recently virtually everyone in it spoke the language fluently.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:00 AM
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226: that's actually really rad it's taught in a public university. Do many people take it there? I assume UNM is one of not-very-many places you can take it, at least for college credit?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:00 AM
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229: I love that distribution map. Makes you wonder if there was a proto-athabaskan that crossed the land bridge.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:03 AM
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Do many people take it there?

Quite a few. Mostly younger Navajos. By the end of the semester I was one of two Anglos in a class of about 20.

I assume UNM is one of not-very-many places you can take it, at least for college credit?

There are several others I know of; definitely U of A and NAU, and probably ASU as well. Plus Diné College, of course, and other community colleges in the area.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:04 AM
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Makes you wonder if there was a proto-athabaskan that crossed the land bridge.

It's been argued that Athabaskan formed the second migration across the land bridge, with the first being most of the rest of the American languages and the third being Eskimo-Aleut. I'm not sure I buy it, but it's certainly out there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:05 AM
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Okay, now I really do have to go to bed. Good night, all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:07 AM
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I'm not sure I buy it, but it's certainly out there.

What's the alternative? I gather Athabaskan is very isolated from other (non-Eskimo-Aleut) American languages.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:09 AM
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233: that seems like it'd be a little bit of a just-so story unless you had archaeological evidence for distinct population migrations. Or, I guess, evidence of linguistic branching in asia in the right kind of eras.

Do native American languages tend to be tonal, or is that just the Athabaskan ones?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:10 AM
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Damn. I tried my best to keep teo up all night, but no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:11 AM
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Huh, Hopi is part of the Uto-Aztecan family, which I guess would be the first wave under the theory described in 233? Also adds an interesting wrinkle to the Anasazi debate.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:23 AM
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Maybe the alternative is that there weren't distinct migrations, but instead intermixed populations who crossed in a single, heterogenous wave, and then divided themselves geographically after landing?

Oh, if only teo were awake to tell us.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:26 AM
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His sign-off crossed with my post. I tried shouting after him, but he was gone.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:35 AM
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Or, possibly it's way more complicated than all that, and sounds like a fairly entertaining story involving John Wesley Powell, among others.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:35 AM
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Man, reading these various wikipedia pages convinces me that they spoke a fucking shitload of languages in pre-contact North America. I was thinking there'd be some evidence about linking things back to Asia, but fuck, it doesn't sound like there's any consensus on convergence to less than like thirty independent families, give or take a dozen outliers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:38 AM
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Well, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that various different people were paddling up and down the coast between Kamchatka and Tierra del Fuego for tens of thousands of years before things started to settle down, and there's probably no trace, archaeologically or linguistically, of most of them. I read somewhere that it's statistically impossible to identify relationships between languages after about 10,000 years isolation anyway.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:01 AM
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That certainly makes sense. But then the distribution of the Athabaskan languages is so evocative!

I'm glad I'm not a paleolinguist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:04 AM
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re: 241

I've read some fairly plausible stories tying linguistic divergence to various possible time-frames for land-bridge crossings. There were some 'pop palaeolingustics' articles I read a couple of years ago summarizing the latest (fairly new) research.

We know a fair bit about how and when some languages diverged, so I suppose it depends how plausible you find the application of general models of linguistic divergence (derived from known historical fact) to modern language data and the derivation of possible dates for divergence, family trees, etc. Increasingly these days there attempts to tie paleolinguistics to models of genetic divergence between populations and to use those to confirm/disconfirm each other.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:34 AM
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245. Any links for this stuff? Is Cavalli Sforza still respectable?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 4:17 AM
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227: "head-marking language" is good -- I'm imagining a tongue so brain-bustingly hard that mastery manifests visibly on the forehead (cf Klingon)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 4:24 AM
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247: nah, head-marking is easy. All the important information is there, right on the head of the phrase, where it makes sense to keep it. Klingon is probably head-marking - I've never checked, and refuse to do so now.
246: IME Cavalli-Sforza is considered by 'mainstream' comparative linguists to demand more than the comparative method can be expected to reveal (because he wants it to explicitly agree with the time depths of his long-range genetics stuff), thus he has thrown in his lot with controversial figures like Merrit Ruhlen. These guys are certainly open to accusations of cherry-picking in order to get cognates in the first place, and then of pushing comparisons further than most (nearly all) historical linguists would accept.
The Human Genome Diversity Project has certainly had more than its fair share of controversy - it would be difficult to say whether it's 'respectable' or not at this stage.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 4:50 AM
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191, 192: The Native American population was one of the most surprising things about my trip to Taos as well -- I know a couple (literally a couple) of Native Americans in NY, but I don't think of them as a noticeable percentage of the population around here. Having a Native American kid, e.g., working at the Wendy's where we stopped for a burger, or a Zuni microbiologist teaching Buck to ski, was impressively foreign-seeming.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:14 AM
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re: 245

re: cavalli-sforza:

No, not in the context of the Americas. The survey article I read was in New Scientist about 2 or maybe 3 years ago and the approach had some similarities with some of the Cavalli-Sforza type stuff but they were also tying things in like archaeological evidence for pre-Clovis migration, etc.. They had several articles in one issue. However, I can't seem to find it on their website, which is odd, as normally my search-fu is fierce.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:15 AM
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Having a Native American kid, e.g., working at the Wendy's where we stopped for a burger, or a Zuni microbiologist teaching Buck to ski, was impressively foreign-seeming.

And thereby hangs a tale.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:21 AM
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I have some recollection that there's a lot more diversity among Native American languages, even those in the same family, than in European/Asian languages, to the extent that it took a long time and some clever analysis to even group them into families.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:30 AM
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That the genocide was more nearly complete on the East Coast than out West? Yeah, I found myself thinking about the history more than usual.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:30 AM
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249: You know what weirds me out about travel in the US nowadays? Nowhere else has so many Horn of Africa people. Admittedly, if I lived and worked out in the deep suburbs around here, instead of right at the heart of the Somali community in Minnesota, maybe it would be less striking, but still.
When I went to college in northern Wisconsin, it was strange to see so few Black people, and even stranger that all Native people there were treated as second-class citizens, with a casual, unconscious racism that was pretty startling for someone from liberal SW Mpls. like me.
Per Wikipedia, the various Ojibwe dialects make up the 2nd-most spoken Native language after Navajo (north of the Rio Grande). It's not nearly as complicated, IMHO, and in the last 30 years it's actually become quite urbane, partly due to the propensity of Ojibwe speakers to coin new words at the drop of a hat.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:50 AM
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254. But immigrants always end up in groups, don't they? A couple of folk from Mogadishu move to Minneapolis, and then when their friends and relations are wondering where to go in the US, they say, "Oh, come here. It's all right here. We'll sort you out with a house and a job." And then you've got a colony. And everybody heads for it.

I live in a Horn of Africa hotspot too. Sheffield Council prints all its official literature in Somali, but go 20 miles down the road and you won't find any.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:59 AM
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Hey, I recognize some of those Yukon Athabaskan language names! Tagish, for example, is a beautiful lake where my grandad built his cabin. There's a small indigenous community nearby at Carcross (the caribou crossing point).


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 6:22 AM
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Ta/gis/h, for example, is a beautiful lake where my grandad built his cabin.

Wow, really!? To me, it's a software house who sold us a Customer Relations solution. I feel much better about them now.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 6:32 AM
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255: The Somalis in Minnesota are a counter example, though, to the hypothesis that immigration patterns are weather driven.

I first encountered this idea when I lived in Seattle. On a typical wet, gloomy day, my housemate noted that the whole city was just crawling with British people.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 6:47 AM
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The Somalis in Minnesota are a counter example, though, to the hypothesis that immigration patterns are weather driven.

Which, of course, explains a lot about London - the Jewish community, largely descended from refugees from Poland and central Europe, has naturally gravitated to the frigid, snow-blasted summits of Hampstead, while the Jamaicans have naturally been drawn to the balmier southern climes of Brixton and the Bangladeshis to the densely-populated, low-lying mudflats of the East End.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 6:58 AM
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It's a fun hypothesis!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:00 AM
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When you think about it, it's a miracle the Brits have persuaded anybody from the developing countries to come here at all, except maybe a few Pashtuns settled in the Scottish highlands and moaning about how flat the countryside is.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:07 AM
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maybe a few Pashtuns settled in the Scottish highlands

"I can't stand it here. It's cold, it's barren, it's poor, it's mountainous, and it's full of clans of religious bigots with big beards and a history of banditry."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:11 AM
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Québec has quite a few Haitians, for whom I have often wondered if La Francaphonie was worth it. Lord knows I'd rather live in Montréal than Miami, though.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:11 AM
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263: Francophonie.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:13 AM
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Yeah, like that. I was talking to a Pashtun taxi driver a while ago. He was looking for somewhere to buy firecrackers to celebrate the birth of his son. Because, he explained, they can't use the traditional AK-47s in town.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:15 AM
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that seems like it'd be a little bit of a just-so story unless you had archaeological evidence for distinct population migrations.

But there is pretty clear evidence of distinct migrations. Indeed, for decades you had people insisting that the first migration had to be later than ~11,000 BCE, because of glaciation. Finally the dating for Meadowcroft and 2-3 other sites became so overwhelming at dates more like 17,000 BCE that (almost) everyone has accepted them. Which gives you no fewer than 2 very distinct migrations. And you can tack on the Aleuts/Inuit at a later date because they didn't need no stinking land bridge (obvs. that's more just-so, but I don't think it's especially incredible).

Also, it's hardly surprising that the language maps are crazy, because the first migrants basically sprinted to Patagonia (several miles a year), so that, by adulthood, each generation would be completely isolated from where they were born. Combine that with a second wave and intra-continental migration, and it's a recipe for complexity.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:21 AM
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It is sad, but important, lesson how one experience can so greatly influence you.

We essentially sponsored a Somali family for a whole (free place to stay, groceries). It was an utter disaster.

Now, I cringe whenever I see the word Somali.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:23 AM
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Per the link in 183, Native Americans comprise .68% of the US population. Think about that.

That's over 2 million, which is a higher population than there was (probably) in 1776. Much much lower than in 1491, of course.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:27 AM
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Speaking of Southern Baptists:

"Racial prejudice is a religious issue, even when it is directed against Italian American white males," said Richard Land, top public policy official of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. "We are going to make our constituency aware of her record," he said, "and certainly her statement that someone from her background can render a better opinion than a white male."

Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:28 AM
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Why would any of them have needed stinking land bridges? They were human beings with the divine gift of articulate speech. Their ancestors had migrated over twenty to thirty thousand years from central Africa to the shores of northern Asia, and had presumably picked up a few ideas along the way. Such as the idea that stuff floats.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:29 AM
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My dad speaks passable Navajo for a white guy. He was a Mormon missionary on the reservation in the late '60s, and a fair chunk of his law practice has involved Navajos at various levels (from governmental to personal cases).


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:35 AM
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the first migrants basically sprinted to Patagonia (several miles a year)
Really? Why would they do this? I would think the impulse to settle once they left the wasteland that is Canada would be irresistible. Newcomers would then be forced further south. Queue, rather than stack, based settling.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:38 AM
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re: 270

Good point, I've always assumed archaeologists had good reason for assuming it was done via land bridges, even though we know that the colonization of Australia had to have been done by boat.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:38 AM
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re: 272

I don't know, but that seems to be the pattern elsewhere too. The dispersal from Africa involved pretty fast migration across Asia, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:38 AM
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Their ancestors had migrated over twenty to thirty thousand years from central Africa to the shores of northern Asia, and had presumably picked up a few ideas along the way. Such as the idea that stuff floats.

Because north of the Yellow River would have been really fuckin' cold. Not much in the way of food, firewood and the like. The Northern Indian ocean would not have been in the same state. Island-hopping is difficult, since you gotta find the island. (The Polynesians did it, eventually, and slowly.)

If someone were going to strike out into the ocean on a long trip, heading for the Americas, it seems like it would've been easier to manage from Africa, but no one seems to have done that. Similarly with Iceland.

Why not? (Or did they?)

"Racial prejudice is a religious issue, even when it is directed against Italian American white males," said Richard Land, top public policy official of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention.

And that's why they're against anything being done about it.

max
['Caesar favors the wrong people!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:43 AM
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274: But can we measure the dispersal rate with enough precision to distinguish between near constant migration and periodic settling? Or would the population growth rate be large enough that the borders would be expanding so quickly as to make the two indistinguishable?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:45 AM
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273. I think archaeologists concluded this from the fact that all the earliest sites they found were well in land. Recently, though, people have made the point that sea level was a lot lower during the ice ages, so any coastal settlements would now be under several metres of water.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:45 AM
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270, 273: IIRC (and it's been 16+ years), the land bridge is a red herring, or perhaps a shorthand, for glaciation periods that would allow for realistic migration. IOW, the times when any Asia-Americas migration were likely coincide with land bridge periods (partly because the land bridge lasted millennia).

Lots of people have tried to show Polynesians sailing the Pacific to the Americas, but there's simply no evidence that it happened - could have, but evidently didn't.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:46 AM
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259: there's a terrific wtf moment in arthur c.clark's 1949 story the forgotten enemy -- which is about a deserted london in the very-near-future (won't say why deserted as it spoils the story) where he makes offhand reference to the mountain ranges immediately to the north of london


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:49 AM
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270: I assume that boats were one of the first really big things people made (IOW bigger than it's convenient to carry). Deep water fish have been found in trash heaps going back to the time of the exodus from Africa. It seems to me insane to believe that migration of whole populations took place solely by walking. If you have a boat, and you want to go somewhere, you go in the boat, you don't walk.

Moving by boat also explains why people moved so damn fast: The shore and environs are really rich in resources, but the geometry is essentially linear: If you want to move to a less crowded spot you have to go up or down the coast unless you plan on adopting a whole new lifestyle.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:50 AM
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278: And the reason they kept going south is that northern Canada is really really cold. ("But you're leaving behind a reliable food source!" "I don't care, I haven't felt my feet in seven years! It can't get worse!")


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:52 AM
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It's as if the Kon Tiki never sailed.

(Ooh, Knut Haugland is apparently still alive...)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:53 AM
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276: I don't think we have any idea who was moving specifically, but the rate of expansion indicates that at least some bands were hauling ass.

Remember that hunter-gatherers need vast amounts of land per person, and if there's unpeopled land ahead of you, that will always be preferable to the lightly-peopled land behind you.

There's also theories about the migrants going Full Metal Nugent on the megafauna, in which case they'd be constantly cycling through all the horses, mastodons, etc. in a given region and needing to keep moving in order to maintain that lifestyle (once you go sabre-toothed cat, you don't go back). I believe these theories are in doubt these days.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:53 AM
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I don't think that Thomas was Roman Catholic when he got on the Court.

I think that they might manage to take away our Episcopal dominance. The single largest group of SC justices has been Episcopal which is totally non-representative--there are only 2.2 million Episcopalians in the U.S. They've always been represented among elites, but suppose that in the past those numbers counted for a higher percentage of the population.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 7:57 AM
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283: I have my own theory that they moved south because of the effect of all that meat in their diet. One day, the chief stood up and asked "Anybody take a crap this week?" Nobody had, so they moved south to where they could get some food with fiber.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:01 AM
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OTOH, you want to be careful about imagining parallels between Polynesians and proto-Americans. There's a huge gulf between the upper Palaeolithic and the sophisticated farming communities that launched the Polynesian migrations: technology is only part of it; population density, in terms of the number of available hands factors in too.

Assuming the Americans came by sea, the odds are they would have used something on the level of kayaks, moving from fishing ground to fishing ground, rather than organised migrations. Still faster than walking, though.

The Polynesians did, of course, go Full Metal Nugent on the megafauna (my favourite phrase ever) in NZ. But there were a lot more of them, and they were better armed.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:04 AM
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All these silly theories can be discarded once we accept that man was a herd-beast seeded in various climes on this little outlier farm-planet by the Great Old Ones


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:10 AM
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http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg16021565.100-young-americans.html?full=true&print=true

That may be the article I read a while back [nearly 10 years ago, though, which seems longer ago than I remember]. I'm sure New Scientist had something more recent with more of an emphasis on the linguistics.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:13 AM
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287. I refuse to accept the crazy religious ideas of PZ Myers.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:19 AM
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teo, can you just dump your entire brain into a comment box? This is fascinating stuff.

Are there any statistics on the amount of Native American ancestry in the "white" population in different geographic regions? My impression was that where I grew up, in the south-ish, most people identifying as white had some Native American ancestors. This seems to be less true in the northeast. But these impressions are anecdotal and could be completely wrong.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:21 AM
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(my favourite phrase ever)

I own it!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:26 AM
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Remember that hunter-gatherers need vast amounts of land per person, and if there's unpeopled land ahead of you, that will always be preferable to the lightly-peopled land behind you.
The question is if your current location is adequate one year, how long will it take for population pressure to increase enough to force you to migrate. I know I hate moving.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:26 AM
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290: I'd think that would be related to time of immigration -- East Coast people whose European ancestors immigrated in or before, say, the eighteenth century would be vastly more likely to have some Native American ancestors than later immigrants. My NE white husband who can follow his family back to European immigrants in the first half of the seventeenth century believes he has some Native American ancestry (a great great grandmother, I think, but I may have slipped a generation). My family came to the US in the late 19th or early 20th C, and as far as I know we haven't got any Native American.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:27 AM
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My impression was that where I grew up, in the south-ish, most people identifying as white had some Native American ancestors.

Many white Georgians, I think, believe they have Cherokee ancestors. Apparently, post-DNA testing, very few of the people who think this actually do. The same goes for black folks as well, it seems, at least according to that PBS show last year. Very few of the people tested whose family stories included Native American ancestors actually had any of the relevant DNA.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:32 AM
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This seems to be less true in the northeast.

Upstate NY aside, there were very few NAs left in the northeast by the time of white settlement (and the ones that were left in New England were, of course, killed). This is part of the origin of the "land without a people" myth - by the time whites got to the future site of Pittsburgh, for instance, there were a half dozen villages scattered over 1000 square miles. Which didn't leave a lot for intermarriage.

It's not clear to me why the regions varied in this as much as they did - perhaps it was timing of the first epidemics vs. timing of white settlement (so de Soto and his pigs decimated the SE in 15xx, but Hudson or whoever decimated the NE in 16xx).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:32 AM
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292: I think, as a hunter-gatherer, you're moving around seasonally anyway. So it might not be so much a question of uprooting yourself, but of every generation or so adding another area, a little further in the direction of migration, where the game is a little more plentiful and naive, to the areas you rotate between, and then abandoning the one behind you with the greater competition from other people and the scarcer, more sophisticated game animals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:33 AM
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294 doesn't surprise me at all. The "half-Cherokee grandmother" is a time-worn cliche. And it's not too surprising that the romanticizing South would like that cliche. That said, I'm still sticking with my 295 as at least having explanatory value for the disparity in ancestry claims.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:34 AM
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293: That makes a lot of sense. In my experience people in the NE are much more likely (relative to Southerners) to identify themselves as Italian or Irish, for instance, knowing that their ancestors came to the US in a particular somewhat-recent wave of immigration. In the South, such things seem more likely to be long-since forgotten.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:35 AM
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"...more sophisticated game animals."

Not that your meaning was in any way unclear, but when I read that, couldn't help but picture a sleek mastadon with well-trimmed hair and a martini.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:36 AM
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299: "There is only one thing worse than being chased, and that is not being chased."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:38 AM
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Many white Georgians, I think, believe they have Cherokee ancestors. Apparently, post-DNA testing, very few of the people who think this actually do.

Certainly the branches of my family that lived in Georgia and Tennessee a few generations back have such stories. I would be surprised if they aren't true, given some of the surviving photographs of people who look like they have a large fraction of Native ancestry, but I know determining ancestry by looking at someone isn't terribly reliable....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:41 AM
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re: 299

With the voice of Terry Thomas.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:43 AM
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Being 1/6th Cherokee is a way to be interesting. It's always a Cherokee princess, too. This is a common claim in the third grade.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:43 AM
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293: My ancestry is a mix of early and late immigrants (to the extent I know anything about it), and I'd think that's pretty typical. "My family came over on the Mayflower" doesn't actually mean that the whole damn boat was packed with one's great^whatever grandparents.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:44 AM
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299: Yes, I can see it as a cartoon in the New Yorker.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:44 AM
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Being 1/6th Cherokee is a way to be interesting. It's always a Cherokee princess, too. This is a common claim in the third grade.

I have often heard it claimed that this is a common claim, and yet I have never heard anyone make the claim itself.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:46 AM
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Being 1/6th Cherokee is a way to be interesting. It's always a Cherokee princess, too. This is a common claim in the third grade.

Whereas claiming to have screwed a Cherokee princess is more of a 10th grade thing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:47 AM
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304: AFAIK, my entire family arrived post-Civil War (and I've been to the English church where my grandfather was baptized); my mind boggles at families like Emerson's.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:50 AM
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Being 1/6th Cherokee is a way to be interesting.

Being 1/6th anything would indeed be interesting.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 8:55 AM
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We essentially sponsored a Somali family for a whole (free place to stay, groceries). It was an utter disaster.

Now, I cringe whenever I see the word Somali.

You just need a new association with "Somali." How about . . . "pirate"?!

No, no, that would be unfair to to the 99.9% of Somalis who are not cringe-inducing pirates. Iman was my first association with the word "Somali" when she arrived on the scene, what, 20 years? Better choice.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:05 AM
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I'm 1/6 interesting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:05 AM
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309: Assuming no individual appears more than once in your ancestry (dubious, but necessary for quick calculation), you can't be exactly 1/6 anything unless you can track your ancestry back 23 generations. At which point, you have 8,388,608 ancestors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:11 AM
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What new and exotic math is this?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:14 AM
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310: I think of Iman, too! And that guy from Star Trek: Deep Space 9. (Don't judge me.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:16 AM
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Basically, if you want your kids to be 1/6 anything, you need to start scoping out some of your cousins to cut down the number of great-grandparents to 6 instead of 8.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:16 AM
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312: Even if one individual appears multiple times, you can't get that factor of three. 23 generations doesn't help either.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:16 AM
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312: Hrm. I'd think that any number of ancestors you have (assuming no overlap) is going to be a power of two, and no power of two will ever be divisible by six. (Once you start playing with inbreeding, of course, there's no problem.)(Barring the extra toes.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:16 AM
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316: Damn, that's right, you can't do it even with inbreeding. Never mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:18 AM
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316: Yes, bad math in 312. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:20 AM
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We could get amusing fractions by counting chromosomes instead of ancestors, but still not 1/6.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:20 AM
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And then there's crossing over to worry about.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:21 AM
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312: you still won't be exactly 1/6, will you? 8,388,608/6 is 1,398,101.333. There's no power of 2 which is exactly divisible by 6, because any power of 2 will only be divisible by other powers of 2.

But good point that someone might have the same individual appearing more than once. In that case it depends how you work out ancestry: if your parents were first cousins, you'll have only six great-grandparents, not eight. If one of them was Cherokee, are you 1/6 Cherokee; or are you still 1/4 or 1/8 depending on whether the Cherokee is one of the shared grandparents or not? Hamilton's r is still 1/4 or 1/8, I'm pretty sure, and that's what we're talking about here.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:22 AM
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parthenogenesis. Not an option for mammals so far though. There's a line of knockout mice where it is possible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:22 AM
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255: You know what's also interesting? I occasionally hear someone on the bus speaking Russian, and I get all excited, because I can make out 1 in 5 words, but I know, intellectually, that there are plenty of Russian immigrants around -- they just live out in the 2nd ring suburbs or in St. Paul, so I don't encounter them very often. Even the 4th generation 100% assimilated Russian-Americans are all buying hobby farms in Lakeville or whatever. And they all complain about the weather.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:22 AM
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parthenogenesis. Not an option for mammals so far though.

Heathen.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:24 AM
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322: You could then say that 1/6th of your ancestors are Cherokee, which isn't quite the same as being 1/6th Cherokee.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:28 AM
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I wonder if seriously Christian biologists speculate about Jesus's chromosomal structure. There's the "Jesus H. Christ. The H is for Haploid." joke, but are there people who believe that? Or something else? Or think the microscope would blow up so you couldn't find out?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:29 AM
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1: At your great^5 grandparents' generation, one of the men remarried
2: The two families he sired came together combined when your parents met -- they are what? Fifth cousins?
3: You have 63 forebears at g^5 level instead of 64
4: So 3-divisibility is quite easily achieved without socially deprecated levels of inbreeding

(If fifth is deprecated, I think 11th is next)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:36 AM
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re: 327

Two thousand years of existing doctrinal strife, already out there to provide the various answers to this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christology_Flowchart.PNG


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:36 AM
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324: three times now since moving to the DC area I've noticed people speaking French in public. One incident was in a metro stop in DC, but the other two were both in Arlington, separated by just two or three bus stops. (And by three months or so, but it's the geography that's relevant.) Both the groups of Francophones in Arlington were all black. It's probably just a coincidence, but it's left me wondering if there's some predominantly west African neighborhood nearby. Google has been uninformative.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:39 AM
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ttaM, that is a wonderful thing.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:40 AM
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ie You ordinarily* have 2056 forebears at the g^11 level, and 2055 is 3-divisible

*At some point it's going to have to become less common to have the full number, otherwise our very first ancestors would outnumber us by a proportion of some quite large factor of 2 (which seems unlikely, absent my Lovecraftian hypothesis at 287


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:41 AM
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But I'm not wondering divine nature and homoiouison and so on. I'm wondering if there's any serious (that is, not for comic effect, but from actual believers) speculation about what you would have seen looking at a tissue sample through an electron microscope -- haploid cells, with genetic material only from Mary, or half Mary chromosomes and half God chromosomes, or diploid cells that are clones of Mary with a miraculous Y, or what? Probably people with real religious beliefs just don't worry about this stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:41 AM
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^^^me (who else?)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:42 AM
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330: Haitian?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:43 AM
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re; 333

Yeah, I was just assuming that the worry in christological terms is about the nature of the union between the divine and the mortal. I assume that, for most people who think about this stuff, they think the mortal bit is perfectly normal at the genetic level. Although I suppose the spanner in the works is the Y chromosome, as you say.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:44 AM
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330: I have a friend in the DC area (I can't remember the town, but near a University of Maryland campus) whose kids are in a French immersion program with a lot of Francophone African immigrants.

328, 332: But by moving one ancestor into two 'ancestor slots' you increase his percentage of your ancestry -- you don't have 255 ancestors each with an equal share of your ancestry, which is what you'd need for your ancestry, rather than your number of ancestors, to be divisible by three.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:45 AM
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333: It certainly never occured to me to worry about it and I've never heard anybody talk about it. I'm sure somebody does, but I doubt it's common.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:46 AM
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First let's establish that a number that is the product of multiplying a bunch of 2's together, with no other numbers, cannot be divisible by 3. Heebie can go into this further.

Now, since people don't all have children at exactly the same time, it WOULD be possible to take a cross-section of all your ancestors who were alive at a given moment, and have 1/6 of them be Cherokee, because the ancestors overlap with each other.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:50 AM
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337.2: If ancestry can be built up points-wise the way you're proposing, then you're not going to be getting 256 equal amounts of ancestral identity from each ancestor at the 256 level -- you'd have to track the genetics back to Adam/Eve or the off-planet arrival, or whatever...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:53 AM
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333. I suspect the po-faced answer is that the conception of Christ was miraculous; therefore god could have arranged his chromosomes however he fancied at the time; therefore the answer is unknowable; therefore we don't worry about it; therefore get out of my face you damn rationalist.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:54 AM
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it WOULD be possible to take a cross-section of all your ancestors who were alive at a given moment, and have 1/6 of them be Cherokee, because the ancestors overlap with each other.

Well, yes. Trivially so. All you need is eight great-grandparents, one of whom is Cherokee and two of whom are dead.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:54 AM
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Christ didn't have any chromosomes. He didn't have any kids, did he? Well, my dad thinks he did and so does Dan Brown, but God disagrees.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:56 AM
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Also: what about Lilith?

I say that three was built into the system from the start, and all this 2-divisible BS is revisionist chauvinism.

Next you're going to be telling me all Lilith's children were vampires and stuff.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:57 AM
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333: Not knowing all of the ins and outs of the Immaculate Conception, I thought this might be poised to be even more complicated, but,
Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, by sexual intercourse, should not be confused with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus. So I guess Jesus wasn't his own Grandpa.

And I just love the Abrahamic religious doctrines when they explore ratholes like this bit from the discussion of whether Mary herself needed saving, In Catholicism since the Council of Orange II against semi-pelagianism, has taught that even had man never sinned in the Garden of Eden and was sinless, he would still require a savior in God.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:59 AM
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341: Yeah, that's probably right. I was just musing about the possibility of a devout geneticist, wracked by curiosity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:59 AM
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Christ didn't have any chromosomes.

Having ttaM's Observer's Book of Heresies to hand, I can now tick you off on my life list as a Docetist.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:00 AM
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344: I thought it was Cain's children that turned out wrong? Grendel, etc?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:01 AM
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Yeah, Cain's children became actual non-human monsters. Ham's children were the ones who became blacks and mussulmen and mongoloids.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:02 AM
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mussulmen

Aren't Arabs (which, not all Muslims are Arabs or vice versa, but you know what I mean) descendants of Ishmael?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:04 AM
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I was just musing about the possibility of a devout geneticist, wracked by curiosity.

A little googling suggests one guy claims to have retrieved a sample of Jesus' blood (from the ark of the covenant, no less) and tested it to discover some genetic peculiarities (see the last two paragraphs at the link). I have no idea whether or not this qualifies as "serious".


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:04 AM
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350: Or so the mullahs would have you believe.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:05 AM
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The Pashtun believe themselves to be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
But then again, who doesn't?
(Well, Jews, I suppose, who believe themselves to be descendants of the Non-Lost Tribes. But who else?)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:06 AM
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351: Huh, and it comes out haploid with an additional miraculous Y. Who's to say it's not serious?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:08 AM
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I have never heard anyone make the [Cherokee princess] claim itself.

My family claims this! On the Indiana side, not the New York Jew side. We even know a name: Mary Fell. Don't know if she was Cherokee and when I look at my grandfather, I'd sooner suspect black. Either way, there was some great scandal about her because when my great-grandmother lost her mind, she burned the family Bible to hide the evidence.

She was TOTALLY a princess.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:17 AM
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341: therefore god could have arranged his chromosomes however he fancied at the time

Although scorned by the religious for introducing a "deceptive" God and mocked by the scientific for unknowableness, Philip Gosse really did get to the essence of "faith" in Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot in 1857. It's Last Thursdayism all the way down.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:22 AM
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294 -- Can a test find your paternal great-grandmother's DNA? Reliably?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:23 AM
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We should probably point out that one could easily be 1/6th ethnic ancestry simply by having more than one person in the family tree share an ancestry. No need to postulate incest, just two (or n) Cherokee princesses!

Cherokee princesses are like creative vice presidents.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:34 AM
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DC area I've noticed people speaking French

Cote d'Ivoire and Benin IME.

It would only be a very small miracle--
Sterile XX males are not that rare. To make viable parthenogenetic mice, delete here.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:34 AM
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357: This appears to be the Maternal side test most commonly used:

Maternal Line Native American Test or Common Female Ancestor (mtDNA for males or females) examines DNA from the maternal line (i.e., the mtDNA comes from the participant's Mother's, Mother's, Mother, etc.) for genetic markers unique to Native Americans. Nearly all Native Americans belong to one of five mtDNA haplogroups: A, B, C, D or X which are broadly distributed throughout the Americas


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:35 AM
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360 -- Right. And all that tells you about is one person in 256. One in 512. Not much in the way of disproof there.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:39 AM
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Wired had an article about seeking NA markers in African American ancestries. There's money involved (bacause of casinos), also a very clever effort by HL Gates to create a curriculum that teaches kids history and biology simultaneously. But even people with ancestors on 19th century lists of "indians" (army clerks sorted people by glancing at them to create the lists, apparently) very rarely had NA ancestry.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:41 AM
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362, yeah, but again, what are they really testing? I person out of 256? Two? And, as we all know, it's not like you have 1/256th of DNA from each of the 256. Many among to 256 will be completely invisible in your DNA. (And different among the 256 invisible in your siblings' DNA).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:45 AM
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This is all pretty obvious, but on the question of ancestry, people are morons. "Identity" overwhelms fact time after time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:47 AM
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I have often heard it claimed that this is a common claim, and yet I have never heard anyone make the claim itself.

Lucky.

Seriously, IME (n=12 or 14, not counting this thread), this is 20% likely to be benignly and rather winsomely naive, and 80% likely to be really unpleasantly patronizing and obnoxious. Like, brags about "exotic" ancestry and progresses right into offhand ethnic slurs about other, less interestingly exotic furriners.

With regard to Somalis, it's important to note that the overwhelming majority of them came to the US as refugees. Unlike immigrants, who come voluntarily and find their own way, refugees typically have little to no say over where they get resettled. The US brings in about 20-70,000 per year (it dipped after 9/11 and never really came back up) and they are sent to various locations based on the nonprofits, mostly faith-based, who are resettling them.

After arrival, of course, people may make a secondary migration due to housing costs or job availability or friends/family or whatever, but in general, if you're trying to figure out why there is a random settlement of Vietnamese people in Galveston, or Liberians in Providence, or Somalis in Minnesota, the answer is a dozen people sitting around a table in Washington, trading agreements about whose agency is going to take which group.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:48 AM
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363: or, rather, many of the 256 will only contribute DNA that you could equally have got from lots of the other 255.
There aren't, I should imagine, that many markers that are carried by all NA and only by NA.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:48 AM
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363: IANABiologist, but I don't think that's right. You have a clean, uninterrupted picture of your paternal-line ancestors' Y-chromosome, and your maternal-line ancestors' mitochondria, so that's two in each generation. But for all the rest of your ancestors, you can still get information about them -- it's mixed up, but it's still there. If there's, e.g., 100 sites where people of NA ancestry reliably differ from people of other ethnic groups, then someone who doesn't show up positive on any of them probably (not certainly, but probably) doesn't have NA ancestry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:49 AM
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367 -- That's a fact question about what is actually being measured. I suspect that it's narrower than you hypothesize, but would be happy to be proven wrong.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:53 AM
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I wish you wouldn't diminish my Cherokee princess heritage, Witt. I have a dreamcatcher right here at my desk.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:55 AM
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My totem animal is Wolf. They mate for life, you know.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:56 AM
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I just love Nature.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:56 AM
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Sadly, they also shed on the furniture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:56 AM
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Awww, don't worry, Megan, you're in the winsome category.

To LB and CC's discussion, I would not be surprised to find out that testing more sites costs more, and therefore is often not done.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:57 AM
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373 before I saw 371.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:58 AM
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368, 373: True, I have no idea as a matter of fact what's actually being tested -- I was just arguing that it's possible (assuming the existence of a large enough number of genetic sites that reliably correlate with NA ancestry) in principle to do testing that would mostly rule out such ancestry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:59 AM
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I was still winsome in 370?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:01 AM
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376. Not really, but you winsome you lose some.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:04 AM
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375, etc.: I haven't any idea what they are testing either, really, but the PBS show I had in mind was called African American Lives and they claimed a fair amount of specificity in their tests. Here's what it says on their website:
Among the scientists involved in the series' DNA analysis is Dr. Rick Kittles, an associate professor at Ohio State University and co-founder of the ancestry-tracing firm African Ancestry, Inc., whose database contains over 20,000 lineages from more than 389 indigenous African populations; molecular geneticist Dr. Bruce Jackson of the non-profit African-American DNA "Roots Project"; and Dr. Mark Shriver, associate professor of Anthropology & Genetics at Penn State University. Innovative new analytical techniques are also being developed for the project by DNA Print Genomics Inc. in conjunction with the Santa Clara-based biotechnology firm Affymetrix.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:06 AM
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Here's a paper talking about determining percentage of NA ancestry based on 176 genetic sites. Doesn't mean that anyone else is doing that sort of testing, but it seems to be possible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:13 AM
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I suppose the gross in the industry now exceeds that of astrology. But comment 360 stands so far as the only actual description of what anyone is doing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:13 AM
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375: I think Charley is right for the most common commercial tests for Native American ancestry. There is the maternal mitochondrial one and a paternal Y chromosome one. So just the "outside edges" from those two. More useful for "inclusion tests" to establish migrations.Beyond that there are more sophisticated tests that looks for other markers that cost more and provide a "statistical' report.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:18 AM
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The Biogeographical ancestry section of the Genealogical DNA test article describes some commercially available tests of recombinant chromosomes. One example result I found does not look too informative (I assume/hope there is a more detailed report).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:27 AM
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So I am not supposed to mention my Cherokee ancestor lest I be snooty or something? Is it OK to mention the Chickasaw and the Mohawk?

max
['What's the allowable purity factor here?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:32 AM
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Max: So proud to live, so proud to die.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:37 AM
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what are they really testing?

Haplogroup membership, basically, via a variety of techniques. mtDNA is a distinct way to query, useful because it allows some resolution of degraded (that is, ancient or environmentally compromised) samples. 23andme queries the most common known SNPs, points on the genome here individuals frequently differ. Population genetics won't fit into a comment block-- Haplotype is a good term for a starting point. Relation between empirically definable haplotype and ancient geographic human origin is clear-cut in some cases, but messy in many others.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:43 AM
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the language is difficult enough that native speakers were recruited to essentially be human encryption engines in WWII

That was more due to the fact that the chances anyone on the Japanese side was going to understand Navajo was, well, nil, than the difficulty of the language per se.

Also, as I discovered this weekend, Barry Goldwater (and some of his friends from Arizona) spoke Navajo. So it's not impossible for someone who didn't grow up speaking the language to learn.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:55 AM
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As I understand the Navajo words were code too, so an untrained Navajo speaker wouldn't know what was meant either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:16 PM
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How many independent ancestors does our DNA typically come from? I can't seem to find obvious statistics. If it were just a matter of independently assorting chromosomes, it would be at most 46, but of course it isn't just a matter of that. But I'm not sure to what extent it isn't; nearby genes almost never get split up into different chromosomes, and far-apart genes do pretty frequently, I think, but I can't find any detailed numbers. Do we effectively have a few hundred independently assorting genetic units? A few thousand? I would guess it's substantially less than the total number of genes, but I can't seem to find the right things to ask Google to figure it out. (Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with my input.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:27 PM
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Is anyone else finding Wolfram|Alpha to be really unhelpful?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:32 PM
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364:This is all pretty obvious, but on the question of ancestry, people are morons. "Identity" overwhelms fact time after time.

Obligatory obvious correction: Identity is a fact, albeit a social fact constructed according to culturally defined principles. Like race or gender it needn't have much (if anything) to do with biologically constructed facts.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:34 PM
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The answer depends on the least resolvable unit with definite ancestry, like asking how many dust particles in a dust bunny. It can be estimated from recombinant frequency, which varies with chromosomal position-- a fixed probability of genetic recombination corresponds to a range of physical distances on a chromosome within an organism, and varies widely across organisms. The biochemistry of recombination during meiosis is not simple.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:35 PM
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Is anyone else finding Wolfram|Alpha to be really unhelpful?

Is anyone not?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:35 PM
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It can be estimated from recombinant frequency, which varies with chromosomal position-- a fixed probability of genetic recombination corresponds to a range of physical distances on a chromosome within an organism, and varies widely across organisms. The biochemistry of recombination during meiosis is not simple.

Understood. But, averaging over all the complications, there should be some approximate number of distinct ancestors contributing to the average human's DNA. Surely someone knows what that number is?

(The phrase "effective number of ancestors" turns up in Google, but apparently only in relation to cattle or ponies.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:37 PM
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393: Would you be satified if I told you the answer for humans was 4,356?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 12:59 PM
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394: I would find it implausibly high (not to mention implausibly precise), barring references to the literature. But it sounds like you think it's a ridiculous question; might I ask why? It seems to me like a perfectly reasonable, if crude, question to ask to get a sense of whether the claim in, say, 367 is justified.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:13 PM
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The thread seems to have moved on to genetics, but a few points in response to things mentioned above:

1. The reason I find the three-migration theory implausible has to do with the first migration, rather than the last two. A recent crossing for Eskimo-Aleut is a virtual certainty: there are still Eskimos in Siberia, and the expansion of the Thule people (ancestors of the modern Inuit) can be reliably dated archaeologically to after AD 1000. (It can't be very reliably placed more specifically than that, it seems, but that's another issue.) Likewise, while the exact timing of the initial Athabaskan or Na-Dene migration across the Strait is unclear, and they could well have been in Alaska for centuries or millennia before heading south, the distribution of Athabaskan languages clearly shows a recent migration down the Pacific coast and into the southwest, where the Athabaskan presence is generally believed to have begun sometime after 1400 (although, again, there's a lot of dispute about the specifics).

For the first migration, which must have been much, much earlier than the first two, the linguistic evidence is basically nonexistent. It's not really possible to connect anything on that timescale using the comparative method, which is why reconstructions of proto-macrofamilies tend to rely on mass-comparison techniques like those used by Ruhlen and Joseph Greenberg. These techniques are generally considered totally worthless by real historical linguists. The languages that would have to be related at this level (and there are hundreds if not thousands of them) are so totally different from each other that it seriously strains credulity to argue that they descend from a common ancestor, no matter how remote. Given the increasing evidence for multiple migrations, perhaps by sea, I think there's no reason to take this sort of thing at all seriously.

2. Despite the inherently interesting aspects of the Bering Strait and the peopling of the Americas, when it comes to the Anasazi it really doesn't matter at all.

3. This morning a Navajo family came into the visitor center. It was two sisters, one of their husbands, and their father, who was 87 years old and in a wheelchair. When they came in they said that on the way in they passed by the hogan where he was born. It's just a ring of stones now, of course, right by the road.

Upon hearing this one of my Navajo coworkers came out and began chatting with them, mostly in Navajo, about their family connections and relationships. I was standing there the whole time, and I found that I could understand about half of what they were saying in Navajo. At one point they asked if I spoke any Navajo, and I said "a little" and explained a bit about my background in the area. This was the first time I had spoken any significant amount of Navajo since I've been here. It seems to be coming back to me, a bit.

My coworker then arranged for the chief ranger to accompany them to the hogan site, which is ordinarily closed to the public. They're probably out there right now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:13 PM
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395: Nothing against the question. I tend to spout random answers when the room gets silent for a while.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:22 PM
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389, 392: seriously that is the most easily stumpable search engine ever. It's like feeding rot13 into Ask Jeeves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:23 PM
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The first question I asked it, on a whim, was "population of brooklyn." W|A apparently does not recognize Brooklyn, NY as an area with a population and gave me instead the populations of several other Brooklyns. I understand that I should have said "population of kings county," but it should be a little smarter than that, or at least offer the county as "maybe you meant..." Right?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:26 PM
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It's mind-blowingly stupid. At some point we're going to have to acknlowedge that Stephen Wolfram is an idiot, all his protestations of genius aside.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:28 PM
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The HapMap paper published in 2007 is the best basis for answering. Taking the caricature that variation is introduced only by haplotype blocks and estimating the number of distinct blocks (mean size 5 MB) gives an answer of about 610. This neglects many sources of variation and is an underestimate. Read the paper, it's interesting.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:31 PM
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re: 367 and the attempt to distinguish 1/512 chicago ancestry from a different fraction:

The biggest source of error is not imposed by the haplotype structure of human populations, but the inability to tie some feature of modern populations to an ancient population. Focusing on modern numbers is only useful as a way to understand why this is rarely possible, rather than as an attempt to google a rate-limiting step. In fact, googling a quantitative answer to a half-understood question is exactly the sense in which google is degrading thought, even without Wolfram's assistance. So get off of my lawn.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:42 PM
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384: Max: So proud to live, so proud to die.

That's really really irritating. I am right here, however, not losing my temper.

396: The languages that would have to be related at this level (and there are hundreds if not thousands of them) are so totally different from each other that it seriously strains credulity to argue that they descend from a common ancestor, no matter how remote. Given the increasing evidence for multiple migrations, perhaps by sea, I think there's no reason to take this sort of thing at all seriously.

There's no particular reason to conceptualize the whole thing as a single migration except for reasons of elegance, but that remains a strong tendency. (See Indo-European.) I'm surprised you didn't say anything about the big comet theory, tho.

max
['But then no one seems to like it much.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 1:44 PM
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398: thanks, cool.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:05 PM
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Oh. 404 to 396. Thanks, though, me. You're a hell of a me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:06 PM
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396.2 is quite good, by the way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:31 PM
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401: Thanks, that's interesting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 2:51 PM
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Wolfram/Alpha is for real? I thought they were riffing on a Joss Whedon idea.

And I haven't visited, cause I'll be damned if I give them any personal information.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 3:17 PM
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What, your IP address? That's pretty damn paranoid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 3:18 PM
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403: That's really really irritating.

Sorry, bad joke playing off your use of "snooty".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 3:35 PM
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408:And asking about Brooklyn, for instance.

I am paranoid, especially about demons.

bob

(One mark of a failed relationship is an aggressive misunderstanding of humour.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 3:39 PM
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408: You could try Harvey|Omega instead.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 4:45 PM
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406: Thanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 5:51 PM
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One mark of a failed relationship is an aggressive misunderstanding of humour.

I'm inclined to say you're right, and yet that's so sad. I imagine the operative term there is "aggressive," though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 9:31 PM
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Good stuff, teo. Am trying to orchestrate a trip out there this fall and am determined to finally get to Chaco, but I assume you will be away at school by then. (Just picked up a new copy (it has been updated a bit) of the great Southern Cal AAA map of the Four Corners area.)

The one Navajo I heard speak (in English) for an extended period of time was an older gentleman who was a guide for an all-day tour at Canyon de Chelly. My lousy aging memory cannot recall the specifics but I do recall him having a very distinctive and intriguing manner of phrasing sentences that I assumed was related to the structure of the Navajo language. He had grown-up in the canyon and had a very interesting and nuanced (from my perspective which of course was one of relative ignorance) take on both the Navajo/Anasazi stuff as well as current general Navajo and Navajo/park issues.

Having been in and around the area bounded by Window Rock, Chinle, Lukachukai, Shiprock and Gallup about a half-a-dozen times, I can say that it is the area of the continental US where I find the cultural geography most distinct from my day-to-day haunts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:47 PM
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Yeah, I'll probably be ending my stint here around the beginning of August. I definitely encourage you to try to make it to Chaco, though; it's worth the effort. If you would like any advice on planning your trip, I'd be happy to help.

Canyon de Chelly is rather interesting in the way the Park Service has chosen to operate it in close cooperation with the local Navajos, who occupy a rather distinctive position within the Navajo cultural world (sort of transitional between the Eastern and Western Navajos, who differ in a variety of subtle but noticeable ways). I'm not surprised to hear that the guides there have a nuanced approach to issues like the Anasazi and the park. This is in contrast to some other parks in the region, such as Chaco and Wupatki, where the relationship between the Park Service and the local Navajos has been more confrontational. The fact that de Chelly is on the reservation probably plays a role in this; Navajo National Monument, also on the reservation, has a similarly cooperative approach.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 10:58 PM
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the relationship between the Park Service and the local Navajos has been more confrontational

Like, at the individual level, or just at the level of politics and larger debates about how to present things?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:01 PM
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At the individual level. At Chaco and Wupatki the Park Service made a deliberate decision to kick out the Navajos who had been living within the park boundaries. You know that old guy I mentioned in 396.3, who came into the park today and saw the hogan where he was born? According to his daughters, he was away at boarding school when this decision was made and came home to find that home was gone. There's a lot of ill will still out there about this, which at Chaco at least is tempered a bit by the fact that the park is one of the few employers in the area and it provides a lot of good jobs for local people. This is all in striking contrast to de Chelly, where the Navajos were allowed to stay, still live within the canyon, and actively participate in interpreting the park (a Navajo guide is required to go into the canyon itself, although it's possible to see the overlooks along the rim without one).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:07 PM
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(One mark of a failed relationship is an aggressive misunderstanding of humour.)

This remark could be interpreted as threatening.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:10 PM
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That... seems pretty messed up. But oh well, one minor blight on the otherwise sterling attitudes of the US towards native people.

How long ago was this? 50 years or so? Was it concurrent with the creation of the parks?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:10 PM
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Sometime in the forties, I believe. Long after the creation of the parks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:14 PM
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Wow, teo. That's terrible. I've been quizzing people all day on what they think the current population of Native Americans in this country is, based on your comment in 189. Sadly, almost everyone's been guessing lower than 0.68. (1/3 of a percent seems a common guess.)

I don't even know what to make of it. I really don't. There aren't words for it. Or maybe there are, but I don't know them.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:22 PM
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419: I noticed that too, but was ignoring it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:24 PM
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Well that's just messed up. So do you get local Navajos talking to you about it? Do things like that guy coming in happen a lot? In context, it certainly seems like a nice thing that you arranged to let that guy go out to his childhood hogan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:24 PM
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Lots of people have tried to show Polynesians sailing the Pacific to the Americas, but there's simply no evidence that it happened - could have, but evidently didn't.

Um, what about sweet potatoes? I thought that was a maybe yes maybe no question at this point.

(People bring it up at James Nicholls' blog occasionally as an argument.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:28 PM
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Wait. You mean they grandfathered in a bunch of cottagers etc. at Yosemite, but kicked all the locals out of Chaco?

I guess that doesn't really surprise me.

</flyby>


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:28 PM
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It doesn't come up frequently. Navajos are averse to visiting Anasazi sites in general (there are very strong traditional taboos against it), so we don't get whole lot of Navajo visitors, and those we do get are mostly from Farmington, Crownpoint, or other surrounding towns rather than the local areas. There are the park employees, of course, but given their personal situations they're likely to have different attitudes about the park than many other local people. There was a woman who called the park a couple weeks ago and demanded to speak to a Navajo employee about some stuff the preservation crew was doing in a part of the park that was her family's traditional land, and where they still have an inholding, and the history was definitely lurking in the background of her anger.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:30 PM
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426: a bunch in Glacier, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:31 PM
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You mean they grandfathered in a bunch of cottagers etc. at Yosemite, but kicked all the locals out of Chaco?

Yep. It's something that's largely been decided on a park-by-park basis, so there's a lot of variation. There's some complicated arrangement with the Shoshones in Death Valley that I don't really understand.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:34 PM
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Were there Hopis that got kicked out of parks with Anasazi sites?

What are the Navajo/Hopi land disputes about, anyhow?

(I should look at pictures of Chaco while I'm asking all these questions, for the full virtual tour experience.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:41 PM
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419,423:Rather than getting defensive, maybe I could just quietly ask y'all to explain your interpretations. It could be fun.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:41 PM
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431: I was actually just quoting You at You, Bob. I had faith that you wouldn't aggressively misunderstand.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:43 PM
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Were there Hopis that got kicked out of parks with Anasazi sites?

No, there aren't any parks in the Hopi area.

What are the Navajo/Hopi land disputes about, anyhow?

They're pretty complicated and I don't claim to understand much about the details, but the basic shape of things is that the Navajos began moving into the Hopi area in the late nineteenth century and living on lands that the Hopis had traditionally claimed. The Navajo reservation was expanded to include these areas, which pissed off the Hopis, and a long series of complicated events lasting decades transpired. It's not totally resolved even now.

(I should look at pictures of Chaco while I'm asking all these questions, for the full virtual tour experience.)

Here you go. The pictures are a little small (I've since begun using larger ones and have been meaning to go back and edit the post to increase the size of them) but they should give you an idea.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:56 PM
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431: It strikes me that there's a much more interesting conversation in this thread about the Anasazi and Navaho, which I unfortunately only tuned in to recently, having missed the majority of the thread.

But bob, yeah, I think the idea is that there's misunderstanding or not seeing someone's (attempt at) humour -- which wouldn't necessarily mark a failed relationship -- and then there's aggressively misunderstanding, as though with a chip on one's shoulder.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-27-09 11:57 PM
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432:I remembered the line. parsi seemed to take you seriously and literally, which gave me seconfs thoughts

The joke, since I can't find SP's blog:

"Wolfram/Alpha is for real? I thought they were riffing on a Joss Whedon idea.

And I haven't visited, cause I'll be damned if I give them any personal information"

The Joss Whedon link was to the lawfirm in Angel, Wolfram & Hart. W & H was partnered by 5 Senior Demons, and becoming their client or employee ot even filling out an application often gave rise to negative consequence (as in yoy don't tell demons your true names, for instance)

The real joke, if it rises, was in the "I'll be damned" with a double meaning.

409:"That's pretty damn paranoid." ...Sifu Tweety.

From ST to me, I might characterize that as aggressive. But honestly, even the last line of 411 was meant jokingly, on a number of levels. including using max's ending style. I though "failed relationship" between me and Tweety was funny.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:01 AM
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Re 429, I spent about two years working on a case involving those Death Valley Indians (the T/imbisha S/hoshone). Their recent story is really fascinating and sad, and I wish I could talk about it here.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:11 AM
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435: I though "failed relationship" between me and Tweety was funny.

It was!

Good lord, I vaguely realized that all of this was playing on your past fears of being sussed out and hounded, or some such, which I hope you realize is not going to happen. That's probably what ST was referring to with the "paranoia" remark. Aside from that, I sometimes reply to DS's comments whether they call for response or not, because of that thing, how I like him and all, so do not read anything into it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:13 AM
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though "failed relationship" between me and Tweety was funny.

It was kind of funny. The original joke went way past me, though, since I've never watched that show. (And, if I'm being completely honest, even having googled it I still don't get it. So maybe the quoted joke is funnier? Wheels within wheels.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:15 AM
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And the elaborate joke regarding Wolfram & Hart is pretty good, too.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:17 AM
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That's probably what ST was referring to with the "paranoia" remark.

No, I was just being literal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:17 AM
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440: Got it. Bob was joking, you see.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:26 AM
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Note to bob: [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMf6V5ct29I]that only works when max does it[/url]. For reason I confess I don't entirely understand.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:53 AM
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that only works when max does it. Shit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:54 AM
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Double shit. FAIL.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:56 AM
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It's funnier that way, DS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 1:08 AM
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Thank God for that.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 1:17 AM
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RELATIONSHIP UNFAIL!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 1:20 AM
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Witnessed outside Pompous U.: person walking down the street shouts, apropos of nothing, "SUE-da-meyer!" and pumps fist in the air. Someone else shouts back: "so-to-may-OR!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:07 PM
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Um, what about sweet potatoes? I thought that was a maybe yes maybe no question at this point.

Way too long since I've read up on this stuff. I frankly have no idea.

Let's say that the evidence is slight enough that it's more or less implausible that Kon-Tiki represents a major migration path.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 12:32 PM
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There was also an article a couple years ago claiming that some canoe-related words in California languages are of Polynesian origin. I have the article but haven't read it yet, so I don't know what to think, but it's out there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 4:52 PM
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The Kon-Tiki expedition went from South America to Polynesia. Are the theories that postulate that there was a reverse migration?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 5:40 PM
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Wikipedia says yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 5:56 PM
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The study teo was talking about is mentioned here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 6:06 PM
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Y'all aren't worried about offending mcmanus, are you?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 6:06 PM
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I didn't realize he felt so strongly about paleolithic migration to the Americas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 6:10 PM
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453: Yeah, it's the Klar and Jones research mentioned there. Oddly, the Wikipedia article says "citation needed" for this, when there is a published article. I don't care enough about this to actually edit the Wikipedia article, but if anyone else wants to here's the cite:

Jones, Terry L., and Kathryn A. Klar. 2005. Diffusionism Reconsidered: Linguistic and Archaeological Evidence for Prehistoric Polynesian Contact with Southern California. American Antiquity 70: 457–484.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-28-09 6:16 PM
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Speaking of subjects of the British crown, the crown's representative in Canada is down with the gente.

She really is. It was an act of graciousness, and a gesture of respect, and I think Michaëlle Jean just might be Canada's coolest Governor General ever.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-29-09 12:05 AM
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The Kon Tiki thesis didn't I think propose a major migration -- it was that a relatively small one-off group, perhaps in flight or exile, had made the crossing from South America to the Polynesian cluster, and, arriving there, were so unexpected (different ethnographic type; difft language; difft raft-style etc)* that they entered Polynesian mythology. And Heyerdahl et al proved that it was possible that a fleet of rafts could make it in this direction (ie they definitively overcame the objection that the technology -- balsawood and vine lianas -- wasn't up to it).

*The Pacific island culture was already well-estabished to have migrated from the West -- I don't think Heyerdahl was challenging this; he was arguing that SOME travel MIGHT have come from the other (on the face of it rather less easy) direction, based on a handful of similar-sounding words and coincidences of image and story. (Though the theory may have got crankier and more overreaching later...)

The book to read is Erik Hesselberg's Kon Tiki and I, which is beautifully illustrated -- he was the raft's official artist.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-29-09 5:46 AM
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457: coolest current head of state full stop. How many times has Barack Obama eaten the raw heart of a wild animal? I think we all know that the answer is "one fewer than Michaëlle Jean".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-29-09 6:56 AM
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459: How many times has Barack Obama eaten the raw heart of a wild animal?

I guess Jack Ryan doesn't count.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-09 7:21 AM
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Michaëlle Jean is not a head of state, cool or otherwise. She's a vice-regent. She also got disappointingly snowjobbed by Harper on the prorogation issue, which will forever taint her in my mind. It's unfortunate, because she's pretty good otherwise.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-29-09 10:10 PM
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