Archives for posts with tag: genes and disease

making up for a few lost weekends linkfests…

Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events“Researchers have found genetic evidence for hundreds of examples of the large-scale mixing of human populations in the past 4,000 years.” – see also: A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History“We used this to produce an atlas of worldwide human admixture history, constructed by using genetic data alone and encompassing over 100 events occurring over the past 4000 years. We identified events whose dates and participants suggest they describe genetic impacts of the Mongol empire, Arab slave trade, Bantu expansion, first millennium CE migrations in Eastern Europe, and European colonialism, as well as unrecorded events, revealing admixture to be an almost universal force shaping human populations.” – see also: A genetic atlas of human admixture history. – see also from dienekes: Human admixture common in human history (Hellenthal et al. 2014).

Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk“Scientists have discovered the earliest evidence of human footprints outside of Africa, on the Norfolk Coast in the East of England. The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh.”aaaand then they got washed away in the storms. (>_<)

Modern human genomes reveal our inner Neanderthal“Cross-breeding boosted Homo sapiens’ ability to cope with cool climates, but the hybrids may have had trouble breeding.” – see also: Neanderthal-human sex bred light skins and infertility. and see also: Adaptive Neanderthal admixture – from greg cochran.

Science discovers new ignorance about the past – good stuff from matt ridley.

Genetic origins of high-altitude adaptations in Tibetans“Genetic adaptations for life at high elevations found in residents of the Tibetan plateau likely originated around 30,000 years ago in peoples related to contemporary Sherpa. These genes were passed on to more recent migrants from lower elevations via population mixing, and then amplified by natural selection in the modern Tibetan gene pool, according to a new study.” – see also: Admixture facilitates genetic adaptations to high altitude in Tibet – see also: A novel mechanism for getting high – from greg cochran. – see also: Tibetan mastiffs equally adapted to high altitudes of Tibet.

Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos [i.e. british isles] – “These new findings…unequivocally confirm rejection of marine resources by early farmers coinciding with the adoption of intensive dairy farming. This pattern of Neolithization contrasts markedly to that occurring contemporaneously in the Baltic, suggesting that geographically distinct ecological and cultural influences dictated the evolution of subsistence practices at this critical phase of European prehistory.”

The booms and busts of Neolithic Europe (and their potential impact on our DNA)“most of the interactions between the genetically Near Eastern-like Neolithic farmers and indigenous European hunter-gatherers, including mixing, in all likelihood took place on the peripheries of the farming societies. If so, then perhaps every time there was a bust, it was the relatively more admixed, or even more hunter-gatherer-like, farmer groups from the peripheries that took advantage of the situation and moved in to grab some land in the depopulated regions? In other words, this might have been the process which led to the well-documented reemergence of hunter-gatherer-derived ancestry in the heart of Europe after the early Neolithic.” – @eurogenes.

First Ancient North American Genome Sequenced“Analysis of 12,600-year-old DNA refutes the idea that Native Americans originated in Western Europe.” – see also: The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana

The Fading of the Most Basal of Basal“[T]he western and eastern Pygmy populations of the Congo rainforest seem to have diverged tens of thousands of years ago, tens of thousands of years after their divergence from the ancestors of their agriculturalist neighbors.” – from razib.

Slow times in the New World – from greg cochran.

Genetic ancestry is associated with colorectal adenomas and adenocarcinomas in Latino populations“[I]ncreased African ancestry (or variants linked to it) contributes to the increased susceptibility of colorectal cancer in admixed Latin American population.” – h/t razib!

Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome“Genetically, the Rroma are still quite similar to the northwestern Indians, even though they have lived side by side with the Romanians for a millennium, the team found. But there were 20 genes in the Rroma and the Romanians that had changes that were not seen in the Indians’ versions of those genes, Netea and his colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These genes ‘were positively selected for in the Romanians and in the gypsies but not in the Indians,’ Netea explains. ‘It’s a very strong signal.’”

HBD is Life and Death – from jayman.

Chemists Seek Possible Precursor to RNA – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Were there self-assembling replicants—proto-RNAs—before RNA world? Researchers find some candidates.”

The Unique Merger That Made You (and Ewe, and Yew)“All sophisticated life on the planet Earth may owe its existence to one freakish event.” – mitochondria, eukaryotes, yada, yada, yada.

Study demonstrates evolutionary ‘fitness’ not the most important determinant of success“By modelling populations over long timescales, the study showed that the ‘fitness’ of their traits was not the most important determinant of success. Instead, the most genetically available mutations dominated the changes in traits. The researchers found that the ‘fittest’ simply did not have time to be found, or to fix in the population over evolutionary timescales. The findings suggest that life on Earth today may not have come about by ‘survival of the fittest’, but rather by the ‘arrival of the frequent’.”

Burakumin, Paekchong, and Cagots“Human evolution is a logarithmic curve where most of the interesting changes have happened since the advent of farming and complex societies. *Homo sapiens* was not a culmination but rather a beginning…of gene-culture co-evolution. There are many ways to study this co-evolution, but one way is to look at the different evolutionary trajectories followed by castes and their host populations.” – from peter frost.

Of Genetic Determinists and Unicorns – from helian.

Geographic variation of human gut microbes tied to obesity“[P]eople living in northern latitudes have a greater proportion of the Firmicutes associated with obesity than do people living farther south, and a smaller proportion of Bacteroidetes. The implications are unclear, though microbes may evolve with people to better extract energy from food in colder climates.” – h/t claire lehmann! – also: I had the bacteria in my gut analysed. And this may be the future of medicine.

A Dog Can’t Teach a Dog New Tricks (But It Can Teach a Wolf) – *cough*domestication*cough* – h/t neuroskeptic!

Revolutionary new view on heritability in plants: Complex heritable traits not only determined by changes in DNA sequence“Complex heritable traits are not only determined by changes in the DNA sequence. Scientists have now shown that epigenetic marks can affect traits such as flowering time and architecture in plants. Furthermore, these marks are passed on for many generations in a stable manner.” – in PLANTS! (are you a plant?)

Single nucleotide polymorphism in the neuroplastin locus associates with cortical thickness and intellectual ability in adolescents – h/t stuart ritchie! – also: Scientists identify gene linking brain structure to intelligence.

The many-headed Hydra of alternate intelligences – from dr. james thompson.

Quick Post: L&V’s National IQs predict GMAT scores across 173 nations“We have shown that measures of national cognitive ability predict both GMAT scores and English proficiency scores independent of rates of English usage. GMAT and English proficiency scores seem to be indexes of National (g) by way of National IQ and National ACH.” – @human varieties.

Meritocracy doesn’t work. It’s in the Left’s interest to recognise this.“The Son Also Rises, a study of social mobility by Gregory Clark, will surprise and also alarm some people. He notes, by using surname patterns, that mobility is minimal in all societies where the data is available. Even, for example, in the Nordic paradise of Sweden. He says: ‘In all societies, what seems to matter is just who your parents are. At the extreme, we see in modern Sweden an extensive system of public education and social support. Yet underlying mobility rates are no higher in modern Sweden than in pre-industrial Sweden or medieval England.’ He also notes that even in revolutionary societies, such as in Communist China, people with aristocratic surnames also turn up at the top, showing that once again Darwin trumps Marx.” – from ed west. – see also: Everyone likes the idea of equal opportunity. This economist thinks it’s a fantasy.

The Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis: Intolerance Among Both Liberals and Conservatives“[L]iberals and conservatives express similar levels of intolerance toward ideologically dissimilar and threatening groups.”

Sadism: A New Addition to the Dark Triad? – from staffan.

You Are Not A Special Snowflake – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Males and females differ in specific brain structures“Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, researchers have conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence. The team performed a quantitative review of the brain imaging literature testing overall sex differences in total and regional brain volumes. They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8 to 13 percent). Looking more closely, the researchers found differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.”

Major sex differences in brain gene expression – from mr. mangan, esq. – also: How Can This Be? – from malcolm pollack.

How much do sex differences matter in sports?“Thanks in large part to testosterone, men are generally heavier and taller than women. They have longer limbs relative to their height, bigger hearts and lungs, less fat, denser bones, more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, heavier skeletons that support more muscle — 80 percent more in the upper body, on average, which is about the difference between male and female gorillas — and narrower hips that make for more efficient running and decrease the chance of injury. But since these differences generally don’t appear until puberty, boys’ and girls’ records in track tend to be identical before age 10. There’s scant biological reason to separate young boys and girls in competitions.” – from david epstein.

How the gender divide reaches into our nightmares“A study has found women are more likely to dream of interpersonal disputes, while men tend to face war, calamities and insect swarms alone.”

Be My Valentines: Is Monogamy Natural to Us?“It turns out that we aren’t monogamous or polygamous by nature. As everyone from poets to divorce attorneys can attest, we are by nature a profoundly confused species—somewhere in between.” – h/t robert ford!

Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates“The origin of social monogamy in primates is best explained by long lactation periods caused by altriciality, making primate infants particularly vulnerable to infanticidal males. We show that biparental care shortens relative lactation length, thereby reducing infanticide risk and increasing reproductive rates. These phylogenetic analyses support a key role for infanticide in the social evolution of primates, and potentially, humans.” – h/t heartiste!

23andMe Couples Correlated“For Valentine’s Day, we analyzed data from 15,298 real-world couples who had children together and found that people paired with others who were more like themselves than they were different.”

How Women Gang Up On Each Other To Get What They Want – from claire lehmann.

Morality and evolution – from mr. mangan, esq.

Cultural Marxism, gay-style – hints of left-wing authoritarism? i think so. from the awesome epigone.

Panthropology reveals 4,300 year old chimp site

Ethnic diversity’s ‘inconvenient truths’“[W]hen the Vancouver Foundation recently conducted a massive survey of Metro Vancouver residents, researchers discovered most people in this West Coast city feel unusually high levels of loneliness and lack of friends…. The Vancouver Foundation survey of 3,800 diverse Metro residents confirmed Putnam’s results. It found one in four Metro residents feels alone more often than they would like, one-third consider Vancouver a difficult place to make friends, most don’t socialize with their neighbours, half don’t volunteer and most feel that, while diversity is generally a good thing, they prefer to be with members of their own ethnic group.” – h/t mike anissimov!

Rainforests in Far East shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years“New research shows that the tropical forests of South East Asia have been shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years. The rain forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam were previously thought to have been largely unaffected by humans, but the latest research suggests otherwise.”

The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy?“The results indicate that Moulay Ismael could have achieved this high [888 children!] reproductive success.” – btw, that’s moulay ismael the bloodthirsty to you!

How HBD Will Make you a Better Person“[F]orbidden knowledge does not result in genocide. The problem with this view is that genocide has been the norm throughout human history — that is, until very recently. On a historical timeline, our recent scientific knowledge of racial differences actually negatively correlates with the historic trend of genocide.” – @occam’s razor.

Robots and HBD denialism“The coming robot revolution will make the labor of people below a certain IQ totally worthless. This is an event never before experienced by humanity.” – from the lion of the blogosphere.

The outgrowth of Muller’s eugenics program“[T]he eugenics program described by Muller, as such, has become a reality.” – h/t jayman and billare!

Being lazy could be genetic say scientists – study done on (lazy, good for nuthin’!) mice.

Male sexual orientation influenced by genes, study showsGenes examined in study are not sufficient or necessary to make men gay but do play some role in sexuality, say US researchers.”

Church Making Strides Preserving African Family Histories“Genealogy experts are experiencing a race against time in Sub-Saharan Africa; an area that spans 36 countries. There is an urgency to collect oral interviews of African genealogy because family historians are aging and some are dying before those histories can be recorded.” – h/t t.greer!

Plagiarism attitudes common across cultures – in children – h/t naturalismo!

Richard III DNA mapping: historic first lets experts look into eyes of Plantagenet king“Scientists will be able to check whether portraits of a dark-haired brooding monarch are accurate.”

Norse Rune code cracked“A scholar of the University of Oslo has cracked one of the rune codes used by the Vikings, revealing they were sending each other messages such as ‘Kiss me’.” -?!-

Midiclorianos: determinismo biológico en Star wars – REALLY important stuff from eduardo zugasti. (^_^)

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of solid shapes“Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra.” – h/t jason moore!

bonus: Nigeria: Restaurant Served Roasted Human Heads – yup.

bonus bonus: Huge chimpanzee population thriving in remote Congo forest“Scientists believe the group is one of the last chimp ‘mega-cultures’, sharing a unique set of customs and behaviour.”

bonus bonus bonus: Camels Had No Business in Genesis“Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cat parasite found in Arctic Beluga“The cat parasite *Toxoplasma gondii*, which can cause blindness in people, has been identified in Beluga in the western Arctic.” – h/t carl zimmer!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Rise of the Crazy Ants“Ants equipped with venom antidote invade southeastern U.S.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: This Tiny Animal Can Live an Estimated 1,400 Years

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist – h/t niall gooch!

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Calcium absorption not the cause of evolution of milk digestion in Europeans“‘The evolution of lactase persistence is one of the best known and most dramatic examples of recent human evolution. One of the ironies of working in this area is that we know it happened but we still don’t fully know why’ says Sverrisdóttir. Lactase persistence is found at highest frequencies in southern Sweden and in Ireland. Given that calcium absorption is not the only reason why this trait evolved so rapidly, Sverrisdóttir and colleagues have proposed another cause: Although most early European farmers would not have been lactase persistent, they would still have been able to consume fermented milk products such as yoghurt and cheese, because fermentation converts much of the lactose into fats. But in famine conditions, such as when crops fail, they are likely to have eaten all the fermented milk foods, leaving only the more high-lactose products. This would have caused the usual lactose intolerance symptoms such as diarrhea. Diarrhea in in healthy people is not usually life-threatening, but in severely malnourished individuals it certainly can be. So famine could have led to episodes of very strong natural selection favoring lactase persistence.”

Human and Helicobacter pylori coevolution shapes the risk of gastric disease“Patients were recruited from two geographically distinct Colombian populations with significantly different incidences of gastric cancer, but virtually identical prevalence of H. pylori infection. All H. pylori isolates contained the genetic signatures of multiple ancestries, with an ancestral African cluster predominating in a low-risk, coastal population and a European cluster in a high-risk, mountain population. The human ancestry of the biopsied individuals also varied with geography, with mostly African ancestry in the coastal region (58%), and mostly Amerindian ancestry in the mountain region (67%). The interaction between the host and pathogen ancestries completely accounted for the difference in the severity of gastric lesions in the two regions of Colombia. In particular, African H. pylori ancestry was relatively benign in humans of African ancestry but was deleterious in individuals with substantial Amerindian ancestry. Thus, coevolution likely modulated disease risk, and the disruption of coevolved human and H. pylori genomes can explain the high incidence of gastric disease in the mountain population.”

Seeing X Chromosomes in a New Light“X-chromosome inactivation, Dr. Nathans’s pictures show, creates a genetic diversity that’s particularly dramatic. Two cells side by side may be using different versions of many different genes. ‘But there is also much larger-scale diversity,’ Dr. Nathans said. In some brains, for example, a mother’s X chromosome was seen dominating the left side, while the father’s dominated the right. Entire organs can be skewed toward one parent. Dr. Nathans and his colleagues found that in some mice, one eye was dominated by the father and the other by the mother. The diversity even extended to the entire mouse. In some animals, almost all the X chromosomes from one parent were shut; in others, the opposite was true.”

Are plants altruistic?“Roots can distinguish self from other, and they know their own kind (species), they can share resources and information about insect attacks and deliver nutrients to trees in need. The preponderance of evidence does seem to suggest that plants are proactive in filling their own needs and the needs of others.” – ooooh, not just their own species, their own close relatives! – see also The Intelligent Plant.

Sluggish metabolisms are key to primates’ long lives“[P]rimates expend 50 per cent less energy than other mammals of equivalent mass during an average day. ‘What’s more, he says the difference is not easily explained by differing activity levels: a human would need to run a whole marathon every day to be on an even energetic footing with mammals that aren’t primates….’ The finding offers a completely new way to understand why primates have slower life histories than other mammals of equivalent body size…. Pontzer thinks that the slower metabolism may have evolved to help primates cope with food shortages. For instance, orang-utans suffer frequent famines. ‘Orang-utans experience extended periods of low fruit availability,’ says Vogel. ‘There are months when caloric intake is less than expenditure – and they burn body fat stores.’ A slow metabolism might help them survive.”

Triune origins“With the latest paper, the story on European origins is becoming clearer. Three populations account for European ancestry: the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of western Europe (dubbed WHG in the paper), early European farmers derived from somewhere in the Mideast (EEF), and a third group more closely related to ancient Siberians (ANE) than any existing population. Those Sibermen also contributed a third of Amerindian ancestry, the rest being similar to modern East Asian populations.” – from greg cochran.

The first industrial revolution“As early modern humans spread farther north, they entered more challenging environments…. Did these new cognitive demands have an evolutionary impact? Did they select for certain mental capacities over others? Piffer (2013) has addressed these questions by seeing how hunter-gatherers differ from farming peoples in alleles at COMT, a gene linked to executive function, working memory, and intelligence…. Northern hunting peoples, however, differ from other hunter-gatherers and resemble more advanced farming populations.” – from peter frost.

‘Out of Africa’ gene mutation in human pigmentation increases predisposition to skin cancer“The V60L mutation is more common in people with light hair and skin tone that, despite being light, tans easily in the summer. This mutation is positive for the climate of the Mediterranean region, as it facilitates the absorption of vitamin D in the winter months, in which the ultraviolet radiation is lower. In the summer months, in which the radiation is greater, the ease to darken the skin pigmentation provides a certain protection. However, the study also revealed that among people with this mutation there is a greater predisposition to skin cancer.” – see also: Simultaneous Purifying Selection on the Ancestral MC1R Allele and Positive Selection on the Melanoma-Risk Allele V60L in South Europeans.

Longitudinal four-dimensional mapping of subcortical anatomy in human development – h/t kevin mitchell! who said: “Large imaging study details substantial sex differences in maturation dynamics of subcortical structures.” – also: Fundamental sex difference in human brain architecture [behind paywall].

Changes in Thickness and Surface Area of the Human Cortex and Their Relationship with Intelligence“At 10 years of age, more intelligent children have a slightly thinner cortex than children with a lower IQ. This relationship becomes more pronounced with increasing age: with higher IQ, a faster thinning of the cortex is found over time. In the more intelligent young adults, this relationship reverses so that by the age of 42 a thicker cortex is associated with higher intelligence. In contrast, cortical surface is larger in more intelligent children at the age of 10. The cortical surface is still expanding, reaching its maximum area during adolescence. With higher IQ, cortical expansion is completed at a younger age; and once completed, surface area decreases at a higher rate. These findings suggest that intelligence may be more related to the magnitude and timing of changes in brain structure during development than to brain structure per se, and that the cortex is never completed but shows continuing intelligence-dependent development.”

Why do spatial abilities predict mathematical performance?“About a third of the variation in spatial ability at age 12 is explained by genetic factors; a little less than half of the variation in mathematics at this age is genetic. We find no sex differences in the genetic and environmental influences (either in magnitude or type) on mathematical and spatial variation at age 12. The observed overlap between spatial ability and mathematics is substantial (r > .40). Approximately 60% of this overlap is explained by common genetic effects, with 40% of the overlap due to environmental experience.” – h/t DOCTOR stuart ritchie! (^_^)

New evidence shows the FDA was wrong to halt 23andMe testing“While the tests are often too inaccurate for consumers to consider them diagnoses, research shows that most customers will seek a doctor’s opinion before taking action, anyway. According to the authors’ research, 58% of 1,051 surveyed customers did nothing at all with their genomic results. Of the 42% who made health decisions based on the information, only 2% changed prescription drug regimens without consulting a physician. The majority of customers who made changes focused on diet, exercise, and vitamins.”

Dogs’ Closest Wolf Ancestors Went Extinct, Study Suggests” A new genetic analysis of modern dogs and wolves suggests that man’s best friend was domesticated before agriculture. But the origin of this domestication remains stubbornly mysterious. Researchers analyzed the genomes of wolves from three likely sites of domestication (the Middle East, Asia and eastern Europe), and found that modern dogs were not more closely related to any of the three. In fact, it seems that the closest wolf ancestors of today’s dogs may have gone extinct, leaving no wild descendants.” – also: Paedomorphic Facial Expressions Give Dogs a Selective Advantage – woof! – h/t claire lehmann!

The Nurture Enigma – How Does the Environment Influence Human Nature? – from staffan.

The interplay of genetic and cultural evolution – from jason collins.

Eye of the Tiger PeopleBut what the hell is ‘culture,’ anyway? Talk about a social construct! Even the term ‘social construct’ is a social construct, one unique to our culture. And who’s to say culture is entirely separate from genetics? There’s some suggestion that the two may be intimately intertwined. In rawest terms, ‘culture’ may be nothing more than what happens when a group’s genes interact with their environment. – from jim goad.

Toddlers’ aggression is strongly associated with genetic factors, study reports“The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behaviour, environment and genetics.” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Modifying DNA May Wipe Away Old Memories – so can several double gin and tonics in a row. (~_^) – they’re talking about epigenetic changes here, btw.

Apes are intuitive statisticians“Here, we conducted the first investigation of such intuitive statistical reasoning with non-human primates. In a series of 7 experiments, Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans drew flexible statistical inferences from populations to samples. These inferences, furthermore, were truly based on statistical information regarding the relative frequency distributions in a population, and not on absolute frequencies. Intuitive statistics in its most basic form is thus an evolutionarily more ancient rather than a uniquely human capacity.” – iow, the other great apes outperform a lot of humans (i.e. the pc ones)! (~_^) – h/t neuroskeptic!

Study: Chimpanzees Bond Over Shared Meals“[C]himps who share their food have higher levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, than those who don’t.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Comedians have psychotic personality traits, study finds“In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers analyzed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs. The traits included a tendency towards impulsive or anti-social behavior, and a tendency to avoid intimacy. ‘The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,’ said Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.”

Natural selection can favour ‘irrational’ behaviour – well, there’s your problem!

‘Human evolution likely led to rise of religion’ – h/t holly dunsworth! whose response was: duh! (~_^)

New study finds mistimed sleep disrupts rhythms of genes in humans“During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (a rhythm with an approximately 24 hour period). This included many regulators associated with transcription and translation, indicating widespread disruption to many biological processes.” – sleep right!

speaking of which: Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents – h/t anatoly!

The human brain can process images the eye sees for 13 milliseconds – imagine how quickly THE FLASH’s brain can process images!! (~_^)

The Islamic Republic of Baby-Making“Iran, like other Middle Eastern countries, has an extremely high infertility rate. More than 20 percent of Iranian couples cannot conceive, according to a study conducted by one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, compared with the global rate of between 8 and 12 percent. Experts believe this is due to the prevalence of consanguineous marriages, or those between cousins. Male infertility is ‘the hidden story of the Middle East,’ says Marcia Inhorn, a Yale University medical anthropologist and a specialist on assisted reproduction in the region.”

This Language Names Odors As Precisely As English Speakers Name Colorjahai speakers in malaysia. – h/t t.greer! – see also: Can You Name That Smell?“It’s also possible that the Jahai are built differently than the rest of us. The genes that code for the olfactory receptors in our noses exhibit a great deal of variation not only between different human populations but also between people. So it may be that the Jahai have evolved more of these receptors or a greater diversity of them than everyone else, much like the Tsimane tribe from the Bolivian rainforest were shown to be more sensitive to smells than were Germans.”

Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’“Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells.”

The thinnest Americans are Asian Americans, CDC data show – surprise!

Shapely centrefolds? Temporal change in body measures: trend analysis – h/t ben southwood! who said: “Playboy centrefolds’ waists have widened, weights have fallen, busts have shrunk and hips have narrowed since 1953.”

Study: Violence, infectious disease and climate change contributed to Indus civilization collapse – h/t mike anissimov!

What was in that grog? Scientists analyze ancient Nordic drink“Ancient Scandinavians quaffed an alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome, new research finds.” – mmmmmm! mmmmmm?

bonus: i’m a journalist! – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus: and a neo-fascist, too, apparently. hahahahahahahaha!! *snort*

bonus bonus bonus: Genetically engineered plant glows so brightly it can be used as a LAMP

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New data reveal extent of genetic overlap between major mental disordersgwas study**: “[T]he overlap was highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar disorder and depression and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and autism. Overall, common genetic variation accounted for 17-28 percent of risk for the illnesses.” (**that’s redundant, isn’t it? sorry.)

Common genes may underlie alcohol dependence, eating disorders“In a study of nearly 6,000 adult twins, researchers found that common genetic factors seemed to underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorder symptoms—namely, binge eating and purging habits, such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing those disorders.”

Multiple Genes Manage How People Taste Sweeteners

As Humans Change Landscape, Brains of Some Animals Change, Too“A new study suggests that the brains of several small mammals, including those of the little brown bat, have grown bigger as humans have altered the animals’ living conditions.” – ruh roh.

African genes tracked back“[The researchers] saw signs reflecting two waves of migration: one about 3,000 years ago, of non-Africans entering east Africa, and a second one 900–1,800 years ago, as east Africans migrated to southern Africa and brought non-African genes along with them…. Because of this two-step migration, some Khoe-San groups who were thought to have been genetically quite isolated actually carry 1–5% non-African DNA….”

Study Says Oldest Known Human Y-Chromosome Branch Dates to 338,000 Years Ago – h/t michael anissimov!

Genetic Research Suggests Indian Caste System Began 1,900 Years Ago – h/t david pinsen! – and speaking of castes: Caste outside of India: black blacksmiths from steve sailer.

Handaxe design reveals distinct Neanderthal cultures“Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago…. [T]wo separate handaxe traditions or designs existed – one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain – the other in Germany and further to the East.”

The Behavioral Ecology of Chimpanzee War and Liberal Peace“[V]iolent aggression among humans and chimps is a flexible natural propensity that tends to be stronger in males than in females, and the expression of that propensity depends on the social circumstances that determine the relative costs and benefits of violent fighting.” – @darwinian conservatism.

Breast feeding, intelligence, and confounded researchers – from dr. james thompson.

Two Failures to Replicate High-Performance-Goal Priming Effects

Babies learn words before birth“Brain responses suggest infants can distinguish distinct sounds from altered versions.”

Women and eye color“There is…a sex difference, with women having a more diverse palette of eye colors.” – from peter frost.

Are atheists mentally ill? – via mr. mangan, esq.

How Personality Affects Fertility: Men’s and Women’s Personalities Linked to Likelihood That They Will Have Children“Men with neurotic personality traits are having fewer children compared to previous generations…. It also found that men who are extraverted and open tend to have more children, while women who rank as conscientious on personality tests tend to have fewer children, although these findings were constant across generations.” – study done in norway. – via hbd bibliography.

Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows

Kinship or Citizenship? – steve sailer reviews mark weiner‘s The Rule of the Clan.

There is no hope of democracy in the Middle East“Most people, in other times and other places, have lived in societies more like Game of Thrones than Borgen, clannish rather than democratic, where people feel their loyalty and duty is towards other members of their extended family or religious community. To get people to work in the best interests of strangers so that you accept their authority when they get more people into the polling booth than you, is an achievement, not a natural state…. Egypt is an ancient civilisation but it is a clannish society….” – from ed west. (^_^) see also: Ed West interview: debating the ‘illusions’ of a diverse society.

Whence Afro criminality? – @thosewhocansee.

Steven Pinker, Science, and “Scientism”“In reality, the issue here is not whether this imaginary ‘science’ object exists and, assuming it does, whether it is ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ It is about whether we should be empowered to learn things about the universe in which we live or not. The opponents of ‘scientism’ typically rail against such things as eugenics, Social Darwinism, and the atomic bomb. These are supposedly the creations of the ‘science’ object. But, in fact, they are no such thing.” – really good stuff @helian unbound. via hbd bibliography. also from h.u. (he’s on a roll this week): Of Ingroups, Outgroups and Ideology.

The Arab Spring has failed because constitutional democracy needs nation-states – via ed west. see also: Egyptian Mirages from thomas sowell – “However widespread the desire to be free, it is wholly different from a desire to live in a society where others are free.” – yup.

How the light gets out – re. consciousness: “…the attention schema theory. It says that awareness is not something magical that emerges from the functioning of the brain. When you look at the colour blue, for example, your brain doesn’t generate a subjective experience of blue. Instead, it acts as a computational device. It computes a description, then attributes an experience of blue to itself. The process is all descriptions and conclusions and computations. Subjective experience, in the theory, is something like a myth that the brain tells itself. The brain *insists* that it has subjective experience because, when it accesses its inner data, it finds that information.”

Notes from Beijing: About That Chinese Social Contract“The traditional Chinese social contract was not a compact between individuals and the state, but a compact between Chinese society as a whole and the state…. Self interested calculations of rational individuals coolly weighing their economic and political interests never really seemed to be part of the program.” – from t. greer.

Fragile and Dangerous – Men with Borderline Personality Disorder – from staffan.

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert – 20 out of 23. (*^_^*) (no way i could give a talk to an audience of 500. No. Way.) – classic link: Caring for Your Introvert.

Genomic Differences Found in Types of Cervical Cancer“…the spectrum of cancer-related gene mutations in the two main subtypes of cervical cancer — adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In tests on 80 cervical tumor samples, the investigators found high rates of mutations in two genes: PIK3CA and KRAS. While PIK3CA mutations appeared in both subtypes, KRAS mutations were found only in adenocarcinomas.”

US behavioural research studies skew positive“US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings, according to a study published today.”

Neolithic chefs spiced their food“Mineral grains from garlic-mustard seeds found in 6,000-year-old cooking pots.” – mmmmmmm!

Denmark’s historic claim to the Faroes in doubt as archaeologists find proof that islands were inhabited before arrival of first Norse colonists“Discovery indicates existence of sea-faring northern Europeans before Vikings.”

bonus: Birds know road speed limits“Crows, house sparrows and other species judge when to flee the asphalt by average traffic rates rather than an oncoming car’s speed.”

bonus bonus: Beetles eat greedy offspring Edinburgh University research finds“Burying beetles occasionally punish young who nag for food by eating those who pester them most…. It encourages the larvae to plead more honestly according to how hungry they are and not try to outdo their siblings by pestering their mother for food.” – so there!

bonus bonus bonus: Saudi Arabia’s War on Witchcraft“A special unit of the religious police pursues magical crime aggressively, and the convicted face death sentences.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Bacteria can cause pain on their own“Microbes caused discomfort in mice by activating nervous system, not immune response.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: World’s first pocket calculator goes up for auction: ‘Exceptionally rare’ 17th century machine made of wood could fetch £100,000

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Oldest globe to depict the New World may have been discovered

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: An update to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

(note: comments do not require an email. faroe islands craziness!)

Genetics, Puberty and African American Girls“Out of 42 SNPs associated with age at menarche in European women, 25 were also associated with the trait in African-American women, bolstering the evidence that these genes genetic variants are tied to menarche timing. However, they also found variants in eight regions of the genome that were more strongly associated with age at menarche in African-American women than in European-American women.”

Not getting the point“[A] scientific finding is not invalidated because its supporters are the wrong kind of people. It stands or falls on its own merits.” – from peter frost. see also john s. michael’s: Stephen Jay Gould and Samuel George Morton: A Personal Commentary part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

APOL1 Variants – from greg cochran.

Context is crucial when it comes to mutations in genetic evolution“[A]n individual mutation can be beneficial if it occurs in combination with certain other mutations, but the same mutation can detrimental to the organism if it occurs in other combinations.” – via hbd bibliography!

The genome’s 3-D structure shapes how genes are expressed

Bacterial DNA in Human Genomes“A new study finds strong evidence that bacteria can transfer genes into human genomes, especially in cancer cells.”

Brain plasticity in adults and cognition“…an interesting result showing a genetic correlation between plasticity of cortex thickness and performance on psychometric tests.” – from john hawks.

Dog Genetics Spur Scientific Spat“Researchers disagree over the whens and wheres of canine domestication.” – woof.

Are Humans A Pair Bonding Species?“The bottom line is that people who claim lifelong monogamy is the natural state of humanity absent cultural interference are wrong, and people who claim free love is the natural state of humanity absent cultural constraints are also wrong.” – from heartiste.

Moderately Socially Conservative Darwinians“[E]volutionary psychology, rightly understood, reinforces the conservative lesson that we are not merely autonomous individuals but also social and relational beings.”

Good old fashioned family values, on which we used to rely – the awesome epigone looks at “the risk factors among women of becoming never-married single mothers by comparing non-whites to the non-Hispanic white rate of bastard birthing.”

Native American origins from whole-genome and exome data (Gravel et al. 2013) – from dienekes.

The Case of the Missing Ancestor“DNA from a cave in Russia adds a mysterious new member to the human family.” – on the denisovans.

Ancient Siberians may have rarely hunted mammoths“Study suggests Stone Age folk sporadically killed the beasts, primarily for ivory.”

News in Brief: Snails trace Stone Age trek from Iberia to Ireland“Genetic quirk linking snails in two distant areas suggests people brought escargot on migration to Emerald Isle.” – h/t chris davies!

Reverse Biological Engineering: Tinkering with Life Teaches Us How It Began [Excerpt]“In his new book, Creation, Adam Rutherford explores the emergence of synthetic biology and how it is not only leading to solutions for humanitarian problems but also unraveling the mystery of life’s origin.”

Autism Tied to Air Pollution, Brain-Wiring Disconnection

Skull music“Skull size, density and shape can influence the musical keys people hate…. People with similar-sized skulls tended to dislike the same melodies; for example, people with bigger skulls couldn’t stand the keys with higher frequencies.”original research article.

How Removing Trees Can Kill You“Having fewer trees around may be bad for your health.”

bonus: Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Euro, Germany’s Thilo Sarrazin Is Not Sorry“‘When [taboos] cease serving the cause of social politeness, and begin to interfere in the realms of knowledge, questioning, and discovery … they are useless.’”

bonus bonus: Why haven’t you moved to Detroit? – from foseti. (~_^)

bonus bonus bonus: David Auerbach on “The Crisis of the European Mind: 1680-1715″

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Big data meets the Bard

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: This Castle’s Toilet Still Holds Parasites From Crusaders’ Feces

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Here’s What Happens When You Light a Fire in Space

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Brief History Of The Demise Of Battle Bots – robot darwinism happened.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: informational chart – number of prominent eunuchs over run of game of thrones so far

(note: comments do not require an email. knock, knock.)

Inbred royals show traces of natural selection“Study suggests the Spanish Habsburgs evolved to mute the effects of inbreeding, but other geneticists are unconvinced.”

Time to get tough on the physiological causes of crime“[V]iolent criminals are biologically different from the rest of us.” – review of The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime.

Scientists find ethnicity linked to antibodies“‘[I]t’s early days,’ emphasizes Watson, ‘but these findings could mean that past environmental exposures to certain pathogens caused DNA insertions or deletions in different ethnic groups, which could impact disease risk. Our results demonstrate that antibody studies need to take into account the ethnicity of DNA samples used.’”

Those resistant to ‘love hormone’ may also be easier to hypnotize“Gene variants linked to social detachment may increase suggestibility.”

One Blessing Of Outbreeding – i didn’t write this, i swear! (you’ll never guess who did…)

The gay germ hypothesis – from peter frost. see also Not Final! from greg cochran.

Another reminder…“[A] prod to certain of my smart liberal friends to start having children.” – from jayman. see also: The end of paternal investment or, more cads, fewer dads from mr. mangan.

The Strange Case of Dr. Robert Trivers“[Trivers] has been driven off the campus of Rutgers University! He has been involved in a controversy lately over his accusation that one of his graduate students committed fraud in a scientific paper. Apparently he was banned from campus because a colleague who supports the alleged fraudster claimed Trivers had ‘frightened him in his office’.” – from helian unbound.

Women graduates of elite colleges 1/3rd more likely to be stay-at-home moms – from steve sailer.

Scent of a Man: Women Can Sniff Out a Hot Guy“Women at their peak fertility prefer the smell of men oozing with testosterone, a new study finds.” – and speaking of testosterone: Testosterone pumps up threats for tough guys“The higher a man’s testosterone level, the more macho he’s likely to act when his masculinity is threatened, a new study finds.”

The Real ‘Hobbit’ Had Larger Brain Than Thought

Egyptian mummies yield genetic secrets“The ancient Egyptians could soon be getting their genomes sequenced as a matter of routine.”

Why Menopause?

Stonehenge occupied 5,000 years earlier than thought

The Pattern of Female Nuptiality in Oman“[M]ore than half (52%) of the total marriages in Oman are consanguineous. First cousin unions are the most common type of consanguineous unions, constituting 39% of all marriages and 75% of all consanguineous marriages. About 11% of the marriages are polygynous…. [P]aternal first-cousin marriages constituted 27.7% of all marriages and 72% (565/786) of all first-cousin marriages, while maternal first-cousin marriages constituted 10.8% of all marriages and 28% (221/786) of all first-cousin marriages.”

The Ancient Greeks & Romans, Beauty and Human Biodiversity – @occam’s razor.

Could Life Be Older Than Earth Itself?“[T]wo geneticists have applied Moore’s Law to the rate at which life on Earth grows in complexity — and the results suggest organic life first came into existence long before Earth itself.”

Chimps Communicate Like Passionate Italians – my favorite headline of the week. (^_^)

Live fast, die younger: Actors, singers and sportsman ‘die seven and a half years before other high achievers’

Historic human remains yield epigenetic tags – see also: Epigenetic Inheritance: Fact or Fiction?

Icelandic anti-incest app keeps residents from becoming kissin’ cousins – previously íslendingabók.

‘Real men wear kilts’: The anecdotal evidence that wearing a Scottish kilt has influence on reproductive potential: how much is true? – keep wearin’ yer kilt!

Did this magical little crystal help the Vikings rape and pillage across the world?“Research suggests crystal salvaged from a shipwreck may be a sunstone”

bonus: What rights should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get and why does it matter?“The Obama DOJ says it intends to question the Boston bombing suspect ‘extensively’ without first Mirandizing him”

bonus bonus: Applicants wanted for a one-way ticket to Mars – let’s go! (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Living fossil’ genome unlocked“The genes of an ancient fish, the coelacanth, have much to reveal about our distant past.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Chlamydia Is Killing Koalas — Will Genetics Find a Cure?

(note: comments do not require an email. ugly fish!)

extra-long [insert dongle joke here] linkfest this week since there wasn’t one last sunday (sorry, dog ate it…). note that there (probably) won’t be one next sunday either, ’cause i’ll be too busy hunting for easter eggs…. (^_^)

Common DNA Markers Can Account for More Than Half of the Genetic Influence on Cognitive Abilities“In the same sample of 3,154 pairs of 12-year-old twins, we directly compared twin-study heritability estimates for cognitive abilities (language, verbal, nonverbal, and general) with GCTA estimates captured by 1.7 million DNA markers. We found that DNA markers tagged by the array accounted for .66 of the estimated heritability, reaffirming that cognitive abilities are heritable. Larger sample sizes alone will be sufficient to identify many of the genetic variants that influence cognitive abilities.” – via race/history/evolution notes.

Genotypes over-represented among college students are linked to better cognitive abilities and socioemotional adjustment“The present study investigated … genotype frequencies of 284 SNPs covering major neurotransmitter genes in a sample of 478 Chinese college students, comparing these frequencies with those of a community sample (the 1000 Genomes dataset)…. Results showed that 24 loci showed Hardy–Weinberg disequilibrium among college students, but only two of these were in disequilibrium in the 1000 Genomes sample. These loci were found to be associated with mathematical abilities, executive functions, motivation, and adjustment-related behaviors such as alcohol use and emotion recognition.” – via … somebody … can’t remember who. sorry!

Genes and Smarts – from the derb.

Why Bacteria Commit Suicide“[I]nfected individuals self-destructed before they could spread the virus to others.”

Evolution via Roadkill“Cliff swallows that build nests that dangle precariously from highway overpasses have a lower chance of becoming roadkill than in years past thanks to a shorter wingspan that lets them dodge oncoming traffic. That’s the conclusion of a new study based on 3 decades of data collected on one population of the birds. The results suggest that shorter wingspan has been selected for over this time period because of the evolutionary pressure put on the population by cars.”

‘Out of Africa’ Story Being Rewritten Again“Our early human ancestors may have left Africa more recently than thought, between 62,000 and 95,000 years ago, suggests a new analysis of genetic material from fossil skeletons.” – see also Mitochondrial DNA tree calibrated with ancient DNA @race/history/evolution notes and Revised timescale of human mtDNA evolution from dienekes.

How Social Darwinism Made Modern China“A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom.” – good stuff from ron unz. see also the derb and peter frost and anatoly.

Does the Clark-Unz model apply to Japan and Korea? – from peter frost.

Did evolution give us inflammatory disease?“[S]ome variants in our genes that could put a person at risk for inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, have been the target of natural selection over the course of human history.” – original research article.

Genes may be reason some kids are picky about food“The study looked at 66 pairs of twins between ages 4 and 7 years old, and found that genes explain 72 percent of the variation among children in the tendency to avoid new foods, while the rest was influenced by environment.”

A Tale of Three Maps – from jayman.

Dan Freedman’s babies and National Character – from greg cochran @west hunter (buy the e-book!).

HVGIQ: The Bahamas – from jason malloy.

The Personality of Tribalism – from staffan.

Remembering Stephen Jay Gould: Bully and Boob – from steve sailer.

Depicting reality or escaping from it? – the awesome epigone asks a good question/makes a good point about something in steven pinker’s Better Angels.

Assortative mating and shared life history strategy – from mr. mangan.

Uh-Oh… – malcolm pollack on why there’s not so much “diversity” in silicon valley: “It’s because Silicon Valley … *is* a meritocracy — you just can’t fake being good at writing code, solving complex engineering problems, or designing high-tech gadgetry….”

Was inbreeding common among early humans? 100,000-year-old deformed skull adds evidence to theory of ‘very small’ communities“The discovery adds to growing evidence that early humans inbred often” – prolly because populations were small. see also Abnormalities in Pleistocene Homo from dienekes.

Moral Matter – the neuroscience of morality.

Crime and punishment: From the neuroscience of freewill to legal reform

Men programmed to avoid sex with best friends’ wives: study“Researchers suggest guys may have a biological predisposition against hitting on their best friends’ partners…. A University of Missouri study has found that adult males’ testosterone levels dropped when they were interacting with the marital partner of a close friend.”

Downton Abbey: Earl of Grantham maximizes inclusive fitness – @occam’s razor.

Experts Say Food May Contribute To Anger, Violent Behavior“Pace and other nutritionists say if you eat plenty of fish, eggs, beans, fruits and green leafy vegetables, you should have the nutrients you need. However, people who tend to eat a diet loaded with processed or packaged foods could find themselves more easily irritated.”

Women abused as children likelier to bear autistic child

One of Us – animals are people, too.

Text mining uncovers British reserve and US emotion“An analysis of the digitized texts of English-language books over the past century concludes that, since the 1980s, words that carry emotional content have become significantly more common in US books than in British ones.”

Evolution and Existentialism, an Intellectual Odd Couple“On the basis of evolutionary existentialism, I would therefore like to suggest the heretical and admittedly paradoxical notion that, in fact, we need to teach more disobedience. Not only disobedience to political and social authority but especially disobedience to some of our troublesome genetic inclinations.” – hmmmm….

Forbidden City“The left-wing stranglehold on academia.”

bonus: Life found deep under the sea“Oceanic-crust microbes survive on hydrogen and carbon dioxide.” in other microbial news: Mariana Trench: Deepest ocean ‘teems with microbes’“The deepest place in the ocean is teeming with microscopic life, a study suggests.”

bonus bonus: Palestinian Mother Speaks Out About Daughter’s Honor Killing“[H]onor killing defendants [are] usually given light sentences. Three years in prison was the stiffest in these cases. Life sentences or execution were never a consideration…. Offenders receive reduced sentences pursuant to Article 18 of Penal Code no. 74 of 1936, which is entitled ‘Necessity.’ The article provides for ‘leniency in punishment for crimes that offenders have committed in order to avert consequences, which could cause irreparable damage to their honor, money, or the honor of those such offenders are obliged to protect.’”

bonus bonus bonus: The Hate List“[T]he [$]PLC’s site explains that it counts counted ’1,007 active hate groups in the United States in 2012,’ including ‘organizations and their chapters.’ But ‘The Year in Hate and Extremism’ did not make the ‘chapter’ distinction explicit. It is rarely drawn out in the organization’s frequent media appearances, nor was it mentioned in a letter from the SPLC to the Justice Department warning of the growing threat.” – see also What’s hate got to do with it? @bad data, bad!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Amazing photographs reveal the lost world of the Omo tribes of Ethiopia

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Tiny Village Where Women Chose to Be Single Mothers“30 years ago in this bucolic village in northern Vietnam, the fierce determination of one group of women to become mothers upended centuries-old gender rules….”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cannibals of the Past Had Plenty of Reasons to Eat People

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Phallus-shaped fossils identified as new species [insert dongle joke here]

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Global Internet Porn Habits Infographic – ‘sup finnish people?! and romanians and hungarians (“mom and son”?!)?!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: i love the ukrainian parliament. no, i really do! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. double dongle.)

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