Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bone parts don't add up to conclusion of Palauan dwarfs

Scott M. Fitzpatrick1*, Greg C. Nelson2, Geoffrey Clark3
1 Department of Sociology & Anthropology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America, 2 Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, United States of America, 3 Archaeology and Natural History, Division of Society and Environment, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Acton, Australia


Current archaeological evidence from Palau in western Micronesia indicates that the archipelago was settled around 3000–3300 BP by normal sized populations; contrary to recent claims, they did not succumb to insular dwarfism.


Previous and ongoing archaeological research of both human burial and occupation sites throughout the Palauan archipelago during the last 50 years has produced a robust data set to test hypotheses regarding initial colonization and subsequent adaptations over the past three millennia.

Principal Findings

Close examination of human burials at the early (ca. 3000 BP) and stratified site of Chelechol ra Orrak indicates that these were normal sized individuals. This is contrary to the recent claim of contemporaneous “small-bodied” individuals found at two cave sites by Berger et al. (2008). As we argue, their analyses are flawed on a number of different analytical levels. First, their sample size is too small and fragmentary to adequately address the variation inherent in modern humans within and outside of Palau. Second, the size and stature of all other prehistoric (both older and contemporaneous) skeletal assemblages found in Palau fall within the normal parameters of modern human variation in the region, indicating this was not a case of insular dwarfism or a separate migratory group. Third, measurements taken on several skeletal elements by Berger et al. may appear to be from smaller-bodied individuals, but the sizes of these people compares well with samples from Chelechol ra Orrak. Last, archaeological, linguistic, and historical evidence demonstrates a great deal of cultural continuity in Palau through time as expected if the same population was inhabiting the archipelago.


Prehistoric Palauan populations were normal sized and exhibit traits that fall within the normal variation for Homo sapiens—they do not support the claims by Berger et al. (2008) that there were smaller-bodied populations living in Palau or that insular dwarfism took place such as may be the case for Homo floresiensis.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Playing the God card

From Ann Morgan via The Libertarian Enterprise:
During the past few weeks, I have identified a specific sort of human behavior which is nearly universal (probably at least 99% of all people engage in it at times) and also responsible for many of the problems that have existed in human societies since the dawn of history.

I refer to this behavior as 'Playing the God Card' after the far more recognized phrase of 'Playing the Race Card', which is sarcastic terminology used to refer to someone who eludes their personal responsibilities by making reference to their particular, supposedly discriminated against race, and then claiming that the responsibilities they wish to avoid are actually the responsibilities of others, of a different race.

How 'Playing the God Card' works is: A person with some Freudian disfunction 'decides' they have a 'problem'. Mind you, no actual problem exists, because whatever the 'problem' is, it really isn't affecting them. (Such as, for instance, my altering my own DNA not affecting other people's DNA, yet they still have a problem with it. Or two or more people on the other side of town having sex for money, or in unusual numbers or gender combinations. Which doesn't affect anyone else, yet people have had a problem with it for thousands of years).

Anyway, this person does not feel like going to see a psychiatrist, or otherwise having to make an effort to deal with their imaginary problem. So rather than simply claiming they have a 'problem' with whatever is bothering them, which would probably get them laughed at and told to deal with it by anyone with a real problem, such as a toothache, they puff their supposed 'problem' up, and make it GOD'S problem, by saying that GOD is against whatever it is they have a personal problem with. There are a variety of phrases used in this argument, including the disliked action being 'EVIL', 'IMMORAL' or that old standby, 'PLAYING GOD!'.

It's not possible to disprove these argument. It isn't possible to prove it, either, but for some reason, every time someone up and says that GOD said so, almost everyone else is afraid to ask them for concrete proof, and automatically accepts what they say.

So anyway, the result of this, is that once they 'Play the God Card', saying that GOD is against their supposed (and largely imaginary) problem, poof and bang, all of a sudden it isn't THEIR problem any more, they are no longer the ones who have to deal with their own problem. Instead, it is now EVERYONE'S problem, except theirs, and everyone else, except them, has to alter their own life in order to accomodate this person's imaginary problem.

A real good example of this: Men in Moslem countries have developed an imaginary problem with the sight of a woman's face. Which, since other countries exist just fine while women's faces are in full sight of the public, is provably an imaginary problem. (as is the problem in our own country with the sight of human genitals or sexual activity, btw). But these men don't feel like dealing with their own imaginary problems, by the obvious means of staying in their house so as not to see any strange women, or blindfolding themselves, they instead 'Play the God card', and claim that their particular unproven deity, 'Allah' is 'against' women 'immorally' exposing their faces in public.

Despite the Muslims being able to produce concrete evidence that this particular deity, 'Allah' exists, that 'Allah' even has such an opinion, or that this opinion should be taken into consideration even IF a psychotic deity happens to have it; nobody wants to question the 'God' card, any more than most people want to question the 'race' card.

So now, instead of their irrational problem at the sight of a woman's face being their own problem, it now becomes the problem of everyone EXCEPT them, namely the women, and instead of the men having to wear blindfolds or see a good shrink, the women have to wear veils.

And this habit of 'playing the God card' is so ingrained in so many people that I think it will probably prevent humanity from ever being able to acheive freedom. Case in point: Would you be willing to live in a society where a large group of people could legally have sex on the front lawn of the house that belonged to one of them, in full sight of a school of gradeschool children across the street, playing outside at their 2:00 recess? Mind you, they are not speaking to or involving any of the children across the street in their activity.

If you think something governmental should be done about that, you don't want an entirely free society, you want to 'play the God Card' and have a theocracy of some variety or the other. But don't feel bad, as L. Neil Smith pointed out in a scene from his novel The American Zone where people from our world were horrified by vending machines in his Confederacy that sold drugs and ammunition to children, exceedingly few people in our society are ready for anything resembling real freedom. ---Ann Morgan

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Putting The Warp Into Warp Drive

Putting the Warp into Warp Drive
Richard K Obousy and Gerald Cleaver
Baylor University, Waco, Texas, 76706, USA
Received. 12 July 2008 Last updated. 15 July 2008
Over the last decade, there has been a respectable level of scientific interest regarding the concept of a warp drive. This is a hypothetical propulsion device that could theoretically circumvent the traditional limitations of special relativity which restricts spacecraft to sub-light velocities. Any breakthrough in this field would revolutionize space exploration and open the doorway to interstellar travel. This article discusses a novel approach to generating the warp bubble necessary for such propulsion; the mathematical details of this theory are discussed in an article published in the Journal of the British Interpanetary Society. The theory is based on some of the exciting predictions coming out of string theory and it is the aim of this article to introduce the warp drive idea from a non-mathematical perspective that should be accessible to a wide range of readers.
Categories. physics.pop-ph
Subject. Popular Physics
Comment. 11 pages, 6 figures
Journal-ref. Spaceflight, Vol 50, No.4, April 2008
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Under Construction

Old blog archive here: http:blog.yhetti.org/blog