People say the original versions of fairy tales were darker, but really, they're worlds where good is mostly rewarded and bad is mostly punished, which was pretty uplifting for people who lived in a world that was mostly full of horrible deaths handed out capriciously.
I wonder if one reason we see them as darker is because of evolving social norms about what 'good' and 'bad' actually is. The misbehaving child who dies might have seemed more deserving in an era when children were not considered inherently helpless, innocent, and incapable of independent choice. And the idea of group-punishment was more acceptable.
Also, however cruel "Little Timmy was eaten by a witch because he didn't listen to his parents" is, it's perhaps not as cruel as "Little Timmy died a painful, horrible death from a disease that came seemingly out of nowhere and which we have no idea how to treat or prevent."
For ancient mammalian megafauna—from brown bears to bison and more—death was something of a boy’s club. At least that’s what you might conclude from the vaults of natural history museums around the world, where the majority of fossilized mammal specimens come from males.
This has less to do with misogyny than with prehistoric herd distributions, sex-specific causes of death, and a slew of other factors that influenced where and how large mammals tended to die, according to a study published September 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia first identified this strange trend after analyzing ancient DNA in specimens in their own collection, according to Graham Gower, a genomic programmer and a coauthor of the study. There are a few ways to sex an ancient bone. If you’re lucky enough to have a whole bone, such as a skull, the size, shape, and dimensions might differ between male and female. In the case of fragments, researchers might have to dig into DNA for the number of X-chromosome sequences, Gower says. But usable DNA is scarce in most specimens that old. From approximately 20,000 samples, Gower says, the researchers got usable DNA from 5 percent.
After analyzing seven samples of ancient bison bone for another study, Gower noticed most were male. This puzzled him, so he asked a colleague if he could look at her samples. By the time he got up to 25 or 30, the bias was clear. “Seventy-five percent of them were male,” he says.
Later in 2017, researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History published a paper in Current Biology confirming the bias Gower had seen. Led by biologist Patrícia Pečnerová, the researchers sexed 95 sets of mammoth remains and found that a surprising 69 percent were males. Like Gower, Pečnerová’s team did not set out to study sex discrepancies in fossil collections. They were working on a larger project on the genomes of woolly mammoth populations to learn more about how the animals behaved and socialized in the last 60,000 years before their extinction.
The researchers were stunned by what they saw. No one had expected to find so substantial a bias in the fossil record, as there were no indications that the ratio of females to males in mammoth populations was unbalanced at birth. They figured it was more probable that young male mammoths were much more likely to travel solo, away from the wisdom and protection of matriarchal herds, similar to the way elephant societies function today. In other words, these male mammoths—young, reckless, foolhardy—were just more likely to get into some kind of trouble and die, from getting stuck in a pit to running afoul of hunting humans. Luckily for paleontologists, some of these death sites—bogs, crevices, lakes—are pretty good at preserving remains. “They were more likely to do silly things, like die in tar pits,” Gower says.
“In this type of research, there is some inherent level of speculativeness because we have to put together different types of evidence and find the most parsimonious explanation,” Pečnerová explains in an email. “We cannot go out and observe how extinct species behave and how they live.”
When Gower’s team read the Current Biology paper, they decided to dig deeper. They expanded the scope of species to include brown bears. Gower and his fellow researchers sexed the remains of 186 Holarctic bison and 91 Arctic brown bears.
They found 75 percent of bison fossils in such collections were males. This wasn’t a surprise, based on what Pečnerová had theorized about mammoth herd behavior, since bison social structure similarly isolates young males. “By [the mammoth] anology, some of the male bison are going off and doing stupid things,” Gower says, adding that the researchers were not able to test for age to further support the theory, but he hopes to in the future.
Among the brown bear populations, two thirds were male, and this was a little more surprising. Bears don’t herd. “In America, you might observe a group of brown bears in Yellowstone congregating around a garbage bin, but they’re usually on their own,” Gower says. They would have to consider other behavioral differences that might explain the discrepancy. The researchers theorize that males had much larger ranges than females, so they died across a wider area and range of environments, which in turn made their fossils more easily discoverable by humans. The sex discrepancy thinned out for specimens collected at higher altitude, where food is more scarce and females subsequently have larger ranges. Pečnerová says she was surprised by these findings, as bear populations tell a very different story than do mammoths and steppe bison. “However, if you give it more thought,” she says, “it makes perfect sense.”
The researchers also counted male and female specimens in the online databases of four of the largest natural history museums in the world: the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Natural History Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Ontario Museum. These specimens were collected some time during the past hundred years, mostly through hunting and trapping.
They found the same bias in all but a few mammalian orders, with bats, sloths, and anteaters among the exceptions. All three of those had more females than males. In the case of the bats, the researchers theorize the bias may be due to collections that derive from single roosts. During certain parts of the year, a roost might be occupied by maternity colony, an all-female group of bats in various stages of birthing, nursing, and weaning their pups. The largest modern bat maternity colony in the world roosts in Texas’s Bracken Cave and produces millions of pups each year. In the case of sloths and anteaters, the jury’s still out.
The researchers all toyed with another theory: Were collectors decades ago just more likely to seek out larger, more impressive fossil trophies, which would tend to show a preference for males? This kind of bias is clear in modern ornithological collections, where flamboyantly plumed male birds vastly outnumber their more modest female counterparts. According to Gower, sexual dimorphism—significant anatomical differences between male and female individuals of a single species—is apparent in the skulls of ancient beasts such as mammoths and bison, so it’s possible that male remains were more desirable finds. But analysis of the number of samples that display clear sexual dimorphism didn’t offer clear results.
While these biases certainly generate interesting theories about Pleistocene behavior (and modern human behavior), they create very real problems for science based on museum collections. These specimens are one of the largest sources of data for understanding the anatomy, variability, diet, range, and more of long-extinct animals. And if that’s the case, much of what we know about these creatures comes from a population that’s not reflective of reality. Accordingly, the paper suggests that, when possible, museum curators should choose specimens or seek more balanced collections to represent both sexes, as well as a range of localities, ages, and time periods.
Until then, it’s a lonely world for female mammoth, bison, and brown bear fossils.
In 2010, a 25-year-old American could expect to live to the age of 79.34. By 2017, that dropped to 79.15, continuing a troubling trend of decreased life expectancy in the nation.
Now, an international group of researchers has published a study exploring which Americans live longer. Their conclusion? People with college degrees tend to have longer lifespans.
“[E]stimated life expectancy at age 25 years declined overall between 2010 and 2017,” the authors wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday. “However, it declined among persons without a 4-year college degree and increased among college-educated persons.”
According to the researchers, this difference extended across nearly all race and sex groups studied — whether white or black, a man or a woman, if a person had a four-year college education, their life expectancy likely increased.
For their study, the researchers also looked at the causes of mortality in 4.6 million death records from 2010 and 2017.
“A lot of attention has been given lately to opioid- and drug-related deaths, which have risen significantly in the U.S. in recent years,” researcher Isaac Sasson told Medical Research. “Our findings show that indeed drug-related deaths account for a substantial loss of life years, on average, at the population level.”
“For example,” he continued, “among white men, drug related deaths were responsible for 0.5 years of life lost in 2010, which nearly doubled by 2017. However, among men with a high-school degree [or] lower, drug-related deaths were responsible for a staggering 1.7 years of life lost in 2017.”
Sasson went on to note that America should consider how social inequality relates to mortality when crafting policies on both the national and state levels.
“Numerous studies have shown the rising importance of education to health and longevity,” he told Medical Research. “In addition to being a marker of socioeconomic status, educational attainment confers tangible rewards, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which are linked to healthier lifestyles and better health outcomes.”
TBH, I think he's over-estimating Sci-Fi fans. I've heard nerdy basement-dwelling neckbeards lament science fiction that has strong characters specifically because "Science fiction isn't supposed to be about characters, it's supposed to be about ideas!" (and then like things where the ideas are honestly pretty banal)
Bill Maher is an assclown. This
is not the first timewe haveoutlined this. But it is important we set the stage at where we are. On the August 2nd episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher" ended his show with his usual “NEW RULES" segment, with the final one always a small rant. Here it is for context:
In this rant, Maher tried to convince his audience to support Joe Biden by talking down to them:
Fatigue is the best thing we've (Democrats) got going for us […] The voters that Democrats need to win, the moderates who have Trump fatigue, will vote against the good economy I think just to get back to normalcy. But they won't trade it away for left-wing extremism. […] This election is about 2 things: Fatigue and Fear. We have Fatigue, He has Fear. Fear of 'socialism', fear of 'open borders', fear of 'getting rid of private health insurance', fear of 'higher taxes.' He's running on "The communists are coming! Shit yourselves." We should run on “Elect Me and we can stop talking about him." All the Democrats have to do to win is to come off less crazy than him...and of course they're blowing it! Coming across as unserious people who are going to take away all your money so migrants from Honduras can go to college for free and get a major in “America Sucks." Now do I want Biden to be president? Not really, but Biden is the only one who beats Trump in Ohio. He's like non-dairy creamer: Nobody loves it but in a jam, it gets the job done[…] He's like a McDonald's when you're in Europe. I'm sick of hearing Democrats need to "excite the base." TRUMP EXCITES THE BASE! […] let the fatigue win the election for us. […]
So much to unpack on this rant. His main argument is that "Trump fatigue" will be enough to win the election. Considering Maher lived through the
re-election of George W. Bush, he should probably know better. Simply counting on your opponent to be so shitty that you don't have to excite your own base is lazy as hell. "Don't work hard, kids! So long as the other guy sucks, you'll fail to the top!"
Then there are the moments when it's evident that you can't
sleep with conservatives and not catch something, namely repugnant Republican talking points about "socialism", "open borders", "higher taxes", "private health insurance" and "immigrants" coming to "get free college" and "hate America." He has the nerve to say Democrats are "coming across as unserious people" while filling his rant with leftovers from Dinesh D'Souza's tweets.
But sure, let's address some of his issues, shall we?
We already have 'socialists' programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the NFL
(yep), etc. They are what people call the 'social fabric' or 'social safety net.' They are essential to a society and most developed countries have a mix of them.
Wanting the U.S. to not be purposely cruel to immigrants, undocumented citizens, children and "Dreamers" is not "Open Borders." It's just not being bullies while pretending we are the "shining city on the hill."
"Higher Taxes" to pay for these social programs that we are already paying to corporations for necessities is not "raising" taxes. It's shifting the costs and, by most economist's estimations, for less than we pay now.
"Private health insurance" also exists in countries with a single payer healthcare system. But considering premiums, co-pays, deductibles, coverage gaps, caps... it seems clear that our current system isn't working so well.
Now after the shootings that happened in El Paso and Dayton the next day, I thought this was not worth arguing about. But something happened, namely Maher tried making this argument in his "New Rules" rant on this past Friday and decided to add some generational disdain at "millennials":
This is the new trick in Democratic politics: Dig up something your opponent said decades ago that looks bad by today's standards and pretend that's a "mic drop" evidence of your "awesome moral superiority."[…]"woke liberal time machine bullshit"[…] Liberals are funny they believe in evolution, except when it comes to people.[…]Obama was against gay marriage when he became president , as was most of the country. then...do you recall who got him to "evolve"? Biden! Humans evolve.[…] Millennials seem to think they came along right when society met perfection.[…] You're not morally better than your grandparents, you just came later. […] Can we stop pointing at people breaking rules that didn't exist yet and "grandfather" in the shit YOU WOULD HAVE DONE IF YOU WERE ALIVE THEN? [...] I'm sorry Joe Biden had to get along with segregationists[…]
So in Maher's world, we can argue about Hillary's history and Trump's history but Biden is off limits. Why? Because according to Bill, those "rules that didn't exist yet." Even though at the same time as Biden,
Frank Sinatra was telling John Wayne to fuck himself (because he was a scumbag), James Baldwin's writing about race and the Civil Rights movement existed. But Biden sure wants credit for his past (even when unearned):
Y'all know Biden lied about marching for Civil Rights, right?
See, there is a pattern of Joe being deceptive when it comes to race relations.
It's the "it wasn't racist then" fallacy white men fall into because back then they could ignore marginalized voices. Now they can be accountable for them. Also have heard
THAT argument, too.
But let's say we "grandfather" Biden's old stances. Let's say he "evolved", even thought Biden says he has
nothing to apologize for, so no actual evolution, Bill. How about 2007?
What about his current ones like:
(if you think it's editing tricks, all of those moments were in the
How about this?
Or this AFTER he apologized for inappropriate touching and said he understood and learned?
Or how about now
claiming he was the VP during the Parkland shootings in 2018 (more than a year AFTER he left office). Why is this "plagiarizing" of life events (not his first plagiarism controversy by the way), racist statements today, joking about his 'evolution' in respecting boundaries/consent and general mistakes enough, Bill?! Have we crossed the threshold you desire? In your rant, you did say something accurate about millennials:
You're just the next upgrade. You're the iPhone 11. Yeah... it's funny that nobody has trouble grasping technological evolution[...] Things get obsolete because we grow and improve...including us.
I see why you're going "hard on the paint" for Joe Biden, Maher. He reminds you of yourself, in idiocy and misunderstanding the 21st Century. So much so, you basically admit your one issue away from being a Trump voting republican:
Must be nice to be so privileged that you can ignore the racism and cruelty so long as you get your pet issue.
Biden has clearly shown his "operating system" is outdated and obsolete.
And so are you, Maher.
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