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Have we been sewing for 50,000 years?

August 31, 2016

Denisovan_needleAnd by “we,” I mean especially our Denisovan cousins. This news article reports a sewing needle made from a bird feather has been recovered from the cave dig in the Altai mountains. Pretty amazing find, if it holds up. Though the intact artifact is more surprising than the age of the technology.

Update: Corrected link.

Obama vs. occupational licensing

August 29, 2016

Occupational licensing is done by the states, and often serves nothing more than a way of protecting those already in a profession at the expense of consumers and new workers. So it is a bit interesting that the Obama administration is chipping away at it.


August 26, 2016

I agree with Katha Pollitt that there is a strange focus to French ordinances that would ban the burkini, but not other religious garb. And one that falls unfairly on women. The French courts just ruled that women have the right to wear what they want on the beach.


August 25, 2016

Brooke Binkowski describes her work at Snopes, trying to root out the truth around various urban myths. While not perfect — what is? — Snopes is a great resource to check before spreading that latest tidbit about the politician or vaccine or herbicide or company you hate.

Ezra Klein explores why the press piles on Donald Trump.

They came by the Pacific

August 24, 2016

Jennifer Raff discusses her recent paper arguing against the Solutrean hypothesis, on the basis of the distribution of mitochondrial haplogroup X2a. The paper is available here.

But they still came by sea.


August 23, 2016

Four years back, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback set out to make sure his state followed a different economic path from his bête noire, California. He succeeded, in a sense:

Over the last year, Kansas has actually shed 4,500 jobs… minus 0.3 percent — 5th worst in the nation. Only Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana and Oklahoma were behind Kansas…. The governor has stated for more than four years that the income tax cuts he signed in 2012 would lead to an explosion of jobs. That has not happened.

That dismal record earned Brownback an appointment as adviser to Trump.

Thanks to our “pro-life” state government, the infant mortality rate in Texas has doubled since 2010, and is now the highest in the developed world. The authors of the research (cite, pdf) are stunned by that number, and promise further study:

There were some changes in the provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

Let’s hope it gets revised at least some for the better.


August 22, 2016

Smart community involvement is the common thread to how US aide is helping reduce violence in Honduras, and to how Aarhus, Denmark, is helping prevent the radicalization of young Muslims. Forward progress often is local, incremental, and not much noticed.


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