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Human origins: It's complicated

We should have a thing called Science Thursday. It'd be just like NPR's Science Friday, only it would be THURSDAY, a day earlier, and thus we would SCOOP Science Friday, being first to discuss and report things that you would not care about or understand even if you heard about them on Wednesday or Saturday. Sounds like a plan!

[First, though: A headline on the website says Bin Laden threatens to kill Americans if U.S. executes 9/11 mastermind. Had he rescinded his previous threat to kill Americans? Is he going to really get his dander up if we execute KSM? Like, he'll say, "Now I'm really in a lather." I just wasn't aware that he'd announced a cease-fire.]

Back to science: Love this press release today that says that we're dumping loads of hormones and weird chemicals -- unmetabolized -- into the environment every time we take a shower or a bath. We're shedding pharmaceuticals from our skin. (This is why I don't bathe but once a year. My molecules stay on ME, as I have tried to point out to fleeing acquaintances.)

I wish I had gone to the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco (bet you can score some chemicals in that town!), because I need to learn more about the molecular soup of modern society. There's all this tiny stuff that we know nothing about, because its not at our scale of existence. My perception scales down no smaller than roughly the size of a mosquito. Every so often I've told editors that we need to do more stories on molecules. Weirdly, this has not incited an enthusiastic response. Let's keep trying.

Big science news today: A new human ancestor. I find this discovery to be a bit murky, however. It's a new "lineage" of hominin, but not necessarily a new species. The whole thing based on mtDNA from a single, tiny finger bone. I say: Find another finger bone and we'll start talking.

The finding suggests a previously unknown migration from Africa about a million years ago. There is mounting evidence that the planet had many hominins running around for a long time, probably until about 30,000 years ago. It seems that people (and the ancestors of people) were highly resourceful and adaptive and went all over the place by land and in primitive boats for many, many tens of thousands of years before we have a single record of what they were up to. Other than the records encoded in the bones.

Did the anatomically modern homo sapiens wipe out all the big-brained, technologically oriented competitors? Or did we interbreed? I believe the mtDNA evidence so far shows that we don't carry any Neanderthal genes, which suggests a not-so-friendly relationship.

If you could write the secret history of the species, going back a million years, it would likely be a rather violent saga.

(Of course the same can be said of the history of the 20th century.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 25, 2010; 8:42 AM ET
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Next: Time to smash things up


Great, Mr. A!

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

Methinks there's a missing apostrophe in the sentence "There's all this tiny stuff that we know nothing about, because its not at our scale of existence." But hey, if it's still sleeping, let's not wake it.

Mudge, can your lineage help out Mr. A with "the secret history of the species, going back a million years" thing? Were stories handed down in your fam from one millennium to the next?

Posted by: MsJS | March 25, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to Global Warming Tuesdays? Called on account of snow? Speaking of snow, my wife being a teacher-snow-weenie is fearful of another blizzard this weekend.

A friend of mine who is a highly respected anthropologist cringes at the use of 'ancestor' in this context.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Imom and YJ and RT and LiT for sensibility. Two comments:

1) people who "fit" a label have more standing that those who don't to say what they want to be called, WHEN it matters.

2) Relies who happen to be members of the Crow Nation do not like being called Native American in about 95 percent of times; as they say, mention my tribe if it matters and why does it matter to you, so much? Mostly matters to me very occasionally...

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 25, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* Of course I mudged myself. What else.

'Morning, Boodle.

Bob, your highway fatality estimate (in your 12:48) of 30,000 a year is a bit off, on the low side, by about a quarter.

2009 (early projection): 33, 963
2008: 37,261
2007: 41,259
2006: 42,708
2005: 43,510


Meanwhile, it is quite difficult to explain the height, width, depth, magnitude and degree of utter ignorance in virtually all of Entenpful's arguments. But in particular, his one assertion that the problem with motorcycle stats is that the sample sizes are too small to be meaningful constitutes an absurdity of Monty Python proportions.

And I attribute the fact that he is unable to think of any uncontroversial restrictions society has placed on dangerous behavior, as woofin rightly suggested, may be due to the necrosis in his pinky finger creeping to his brain, which is clearly non-functioning and not open to introduction of factual material, logical argumentation, clear and convincing statistics, etc. For instance, he seems unable to recall that government has laws against driving drunk or stoned out of one's gourd. Apparently he thinks this is some unreasonable and controversial Big Brother interference on his sacred right to operate a dangerous weapon on the highway while blotto. And he probably thinks he has the right to drive into a bridge abuttment at 80 miles an hour if he wants. He doesn't realize many of these prohibitions are not to protect him, but to protect the innocent bystanders he might kill. Children, little old ladies, people like that. But Entenpfuhl thinks its just all about him.

What he *ought* to do is spenmd a day or two browing the various links and reports on this page -- -- but of course, he won't.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I understand some of the fuss being made about the use (or, perceived mis-use) of "ancestor" in the story of Denisova Man, but I think I want to defend as a loose sort of generic. We commonly talk about man being descended from monkeys (devil's spawn like Ann Coulter nothwithstanding), monkeys being our ancestors, etc., and I don't think I have any problem with that. When one understands this sort of anthropology at a deeper level, one understands that such a phrase might not be quite so literal and more metaphoric. Objecting to "ancestor" might be literal-minded and nit-pickily correct, but I'd cut them some slack.

MsJS, I'm not quite old enough to go back a million years, or even the 30,000 or 40,000 years, but I believe that yesterday I identified Denisova Man as being my great uncle Lucius, who wondered off one afternoon babbling about going north in search of Penguin au Vin, about which he had a sudden craving.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

After reading the press release from the American Chemical Society, I've decided that breathing and sweating are also ways active pharmaceutical ingredients get into the environment. Passing wind probably is, too.

I am so motivated to do my part for the environment. I'm going with no peeing on Mondays, no sweating on Tuesdays, no bathing on Wednesdays, no passing wind on Thursdays, and no breathing on Fridays.

If you don't hear from me on Saturday, you'll know why.

Posted by: MsJS | March 25, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I didn't mean to imply you personally were that old. Sorry. I was just wondering how far back the family stories go.

Thanks for mentioning great uncle Lucius again. I've been remiss in my backboodling of late.

Posted by: MsJS | March 25, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Aye, now this be a kit! Science!

I had to laugh when I saw that latest Bin Laden quote. Gosh, we wouldn't wanna make him cranky.

That bit about bad stuff going down the drain is worrisome because many medicated creams contain powerful steroids, which can do much mischief at very low doses. Unfortunately, this is like the problem of partially metabolized meds in human wastes. What, exactly, are we simple folk supposed to do about it? (Except, for the "duh" approach pointed out in that article of only using the proper amounts of medicated creams.)

I mean, sure, you can go all primal and avoid the unhealthy effects of hot soapy water as Joel suggests. But come on now. Eventually the others in your household will take matters into their own hands, and they might not be too careful about where they point that high-pressure nozzle.

Of course, my understanding is that the biggest source of pharmaceuticals in the water supply is people who foolishly flush excess drugs down the drain. As a household that has accumulated a shocking amount of abandoned drugs (There is a whole lot more trial and error in pharmacology than many people realize) let me point out that the best way to dispose of them is to take such drugs to approved disposal sites.

But if that isn't practical, rather than flush them, instead crush and break up pills and capsules, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter, seal them in a plastic bag, and toss them in the trash.

More info here:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 25, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah there were still great penguins back then. A delicacy that is not possible to enjoy today, just like those delicious dodo cacciatora that we are cruelly denied today.

We had news flowers yesterday then the temperature is supposed to drop to -15C/5F tonight. Blech.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 25, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

LiT, I grew up in Hawaii (many moons ago) and can remember both words being used without malice. I have heard both words used here in the DC area in a derogatory manner.

If we live with something long enough (like our race, gender or orientation), we grow a bit of a thick skin and also antennae that can pick up ill will.

That's what has been so disturbing about the last few days of small demonstrations by the rabid anti-health insurance bill folks. The anger is white hot. It has exposed the true currents flowing under the surface of these individuals.

Is there any question why Rush and Tinker Toy Boy Glenn Beck both ran audio clips in the past couple of days of obviously black men and women saying how they think that Obama is finally getting them more stuff?

I'm mostly Caucasian and I am in my fifties and I am getting stuff, too--as are most of the poor folks who have been ranting on the Hill recently.

So, now, I laugh as the Republicans on the Hill are suddenly for Health Insurance Reform, but just not this way. They have been urging on the nut jobs screaming in the galleries on the hill (that behavior is SO OUT OF LINE); those folks take their anger and "clean their weapons"; and what do the Republicans do? ...

HEY, lets try doing this!!!

Do you think anyone will notice? NAH!!!

All that we have seen in the past 6 to 8 months was just politic'ing. No principles, just politic'ing.

These sorts of team ups between the fringe and the Republican elected officials has started to really turn the stomachs of the independents. Somehow, the Republican officials have simply deluded themselves into believing, from looking at simplistic poll numbers, that they have the support of 10 to 20% of the American public who are to the left of the President and your basic mainstream Democratic politician.

That! Is what David Fromm was addressing in his Waterloo piece. I think that, for a while, FOX News served a purpose for them as it gave them a constant and uncompromising drumbeat of political BS. Now, however, Fox is giving them enough media coverage (albeit totally contrived news at any time of the day) that they actually think that they have the ear AND the support of a majority of the public.

The joke is watching CNN occasionally as their reports pretty much try to ask real questions from what, in normal terms may be considered a centrist viewpoint, and they can't get answers that even approaches normal common sense.

Secondly, look at the coverage of John McCain's--I'm not going to do much on the Hill discussions after the passage of the bill. The guy has reduced himself to a cartoon character of himself. From the left's perspective, he is a just a laughing stock--he who actually ran for President (with a VP candidate who just couldn't find time to finish her term as Governor of a state.)

This isn't the spirit of participation in governance that one wants to have in the party at its helm.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 25, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

RD... so that's why I can get high off of coffee grounds I pull out of the trash????

I thought I had just discovered a cheap high.

I was even investing in a factory full of coffee and trash cans.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 25, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

About the new human ancestor. One of Steven J Gould's pet peeves (besides the DH rule in baseball) was the notion that human evolution was linear. As implied by Joel's use of quotation marks around lineage, this notion of linear progress is nonsense.

Although evolution can indeed lead to greater complexity if the environment allows, it is a web-like process full of dead ends, backtracks, and unexpected permutations. The pretty picture of a primordial fish-like thing leading directly to modern man is the result of cherry picking. People take elements of this messy web and then place them in an order that they find easy to understand. The reality is far more fractal.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 25, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I saw that in a trade journal: "Dong Energy has signed a 10-year contract to take 1bn m (note: that is one billion cubic meters) of natural gas per year from the Gate LNG terminal in Rotterdam."

With a name like Dong Energy I was expecting them to deliver natural to the terminal rather than loading it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 25, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Is Fractal Reality available as a boodle handle?

Posted by: MsJS | March 25, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Ooops should be "Stephen Jay Gould." It's so easy to jump over names when reviewing something. And to end up haunted by his ghost is not something I relish.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 25, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that Dong Energy might be part of the conglomerate that makes Cialis.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

That goes back to the root of my thesis that HCR has been mis-identified by its detractors as a welfare giveaway when it is really a middle-class entitlement. It's no accident that a bunch of student aid detritus is packed in there too.

And since the House has to re-vote on the reconciliation package, are we going to see another throng of name-callers or have they all gone home to clean their guns and car-bomb their congressmen?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Dong Energy is a division of Wang Industries, a member of the Johnson Group.

Posted by: kguy1 | March 25, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Laughing, kguy.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Steroid trash kitties
With moist mutant paws and meows
knock out garbagemen...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 25, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Didn't we have a dong-theme boodlethread recently? Or is the coffee I made from my neighbor's used grounds ding-donging in my brain?

Posted by: MsJS | March 25, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

We are often redongdant around here, MsJS.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the Dong Energy headquarters a short distance away from Mianus?

Posted by: -TBG- | March 25, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

If it weren't for my kids, I'm sure my remains (should there actually be any from the smoking heap of my demise) would have been DNA tested 30,000 years from now and identifed as another unsuccessful hominid line.

I would only hope that I could give those future folks such a fateful finger, just as the finger that person is giving *us,* 30,000 years later.

They're probably still grumpy that their grandkids never visit.



Posted by: -bc- | March 25, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

jkt, could be. There was also the question about the 'public option' being the ...OK, you open it back up and we will start to load it idea of some Dems.

AND, the more they load it, the happier the middle class will be.

The cynic in me says that this is pure class struggle. What stuns me is that we live in a powerful information age, but people don't read or don't look to improve their position. Possibly, this is the reality of hate. If one is told to blame people and fear them, then one may just settle on that premise as the root of all problems.

I keep hearing that Paul Ryan is the "great idea guy" of the Republican party. I look at his plans recently and find out that he, once again, thinks that the solution to the nation's economic ills is to make huge cuts to the tax rates of the super wealthy. Then, top that with the estate tax knifing.

I gets me that all these basically poor folks are being duped by the Republicans to support the economic gains of the corporations and the super-wealthy.

The best I can make of it is that the Fox Network is just your basic Goebbels operation. It creates just enough hatred and confusion to float the boats of some really stupid ideas. These rabid folks on the Hill demonstrating and throwing bricks and forever cleaning their guns are just the foam on top of the lattes of the American rich.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 25, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I prefer Sience Friday on Sunday when I can pontificate any kind of rubbish without anyone paying attention :)


Posted by: Braguine | March 25, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Richard Ailes's familiarity with the concept of The Big Lie is well known, but most people avoid saying so in terms that blatant out of fear of invoking Goodwin's Rule.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

jkt? Roger Ailes? We are talking about the swastika network. If you put a little mustache on a liberal, the pic finds it's way onto the air. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 25, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Gotta go for an Afternoon meeting in the "new" south. Everyone, be safe and stay out of my coffee grounds.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 25, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I think DNA testing more fossils is a great idea. I've proposed some radical theories of human evolution that will be only (dis)provable at the gene level, not the bone level.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 25, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

As to the disposal of substances and materials, other countries apply a simple concept: (s)he who sells it also has to take it back. This applies to empty bottles, batteries, medications etc. In my state this is true only for car batteries, as far as I know. This most likely increases the price of the product, but we have to pay one way or the other.

Posted by: gmbka | March 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I see that the home page is sporting a link, "Octomom promotes neutering for PETA."

Well, what's the point of that? Won't the lady dogs just go to the fertility specialist and have puppies anyway?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 25, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Roger Ailes. I will remember that. Any reasonable person, which I think includes many conservatives, recognizes that Faux News is the propaganda arm of the Republican Party and hence the corporate interests to which they are beholden. That they have such a rabid base of minions to do their bidding at briefest call is a testament to the narrative they are telling.

Where are the devious political geniuses on the level of Lee Atwater on the Democratic side? And don't mention Dick Morris, because that guy is a clown.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Front Page Alert, BTW...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 25, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Bob, what's her slogan? "Neutering...because only humans should have litters."

Posted by: Raysmom | March 25, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

RD, you are thinking along the same lines as I. I recall two conflicting models of human dispersal and one was fractal; the other not so much. I'd say this new discovery, if it pans out, would support the more fractal hypothesis, "multiregional." The other, "out of Africa."

"The multiregional view posits that genes from all human populations of the Old World flowed between different regions and by mixing together, contributed to what we see today as fully modern humans. The replacement hypothesis suggests that the genes in fully modern humans all came out of Africa. As these peoples migrated they replaced all other human populations with little or no interbreeding."

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The Kit indicates that there is real science (evidence-based) behind the assertion that Neanderthals are not in the family tree. I was always skeptical about that and suspected it was a vestige of the kind of psuedo-science used to foist ideas about differences between so-called races (when, in fact, there is no discernable boundary). Has not each of us encountered a living, breathing Neanderthal from time to time? They can be quite fascinating. If you have seen 'Tool Academy', you know what I'm talking about.

Posted by: jamkidd | March 25, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"If you could write the secret history of the species, going back a million years, it would likely be a rather violent saga"

Maybe. But there were relatively small numbers of these creatures who were probably not next door neighbors with each other. Plus, they had limited weapons to attack each other with and limited potential gain from succeeding in the attacks. A more likely model is that the different creatures had some capability to interbreed. But they probably did not do it very often. Even within our known ancestors, only a small number of lineages seem to have survived. Competition for resources between our ancestors and these creatures may have been a factor in their disappearance. But, it easily just could have been that they failed to adapt to some major climate change.
There looks to be a pretty good argument that our violent saga really starts with the invention of metal weapons and that the dominant Western European males are particularly prominent examples of that development. There is a particuarly well thought through discussion of Y chromosome genetics, archaeology, and linguistics on Eupedia. It makes a strong case that the Western European R1b males arrived as bronze to early iron age warriors who were able to take over Western Europe because of their military prowess.

Posted by: dnjake | March 25, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Jamkidd - the "Tool Academy" - I went there.

Heck, I'm still a member.


Posted by: -bc- | March 25, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Mudge, your previous comparison to drunk driving and helmetless riding was kind of bogus. The drunk driving laws are similar to "you can't fire a gun into a crowd, even if you don't hit anyone." Risk.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 25, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, if you consider your cousins to be in your family tree, then there is absolutely no science behind the assertion that Neanderthals are not in the family tree. But then cows, cockroaches, and chickpeas are also in the family tree.

It is, however, asserted with some authority that the Neanderthals were not ancestors of present-day human populations.

[I initially misspelled that as "poopulations". Probably should have left it alone!]

Posted by: bobsewell | March 25, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"But in particular, his one assertion that the problem with motorcycle stats is that the sample sizes are too small to be meaningful constitutes an absurdity of Monty Python proportions."

I yam Mudged into responding. There are lots of things we (riders) would like to know about risks of motorcycling, but the research is really old. Times have changed. We would like to know how more powerful machines affect riders' risk taking, for instance. We would like to know whether better (antilock) brakes compensate. You can't delve into the NHTSA's fatality stats that deeply because, after all, they cover only traffic crashes in which somebody died. You can't use the stats to say anything about near misses. You can't jump to any conclusions about debilitating injury short of death.

I would like to examine the stats state by state, and this is doable, but the number of incidents gets small really quickly for some small states. States do differ economically, climatologically, geographically, and ethnically. You might wish to tease out a few factors that probably influence the incidence of crashes: weather, speed, number and kind of vehicles, driver and vehicle age, day of week, number of passengers, congestion, failure of safety equipment, moving violations, obstacles, and licensing violations. The way I understand the righteous practice of statistics you have to find groups of instances where all the confounding factors are the same except the two you wish to relate to one another. Well, when there aren't that many cases, you can't form large enough groups to make inferences.

Particularly you can't reach very far back in time without becoming susceptible to influences that act through time such as technological progress or regression in vehicle construction, roadway maintenance, signage, and operator training.

Also you have to have data. The problem with the NHTSA stats on intoxication is that police reports don't include lab results. These have to be collated much later and are missing in a large proportion of the incidents (from a couple of years ago) for which the rest of the information is cut and dried.

There has been a decline in traffic deaths for motorcyclists as well as automobile drivers. People are attributing this to better safety equipment including helmets, mandatory seatbelt use, and draconian sanctions against drunk driving when the improvement may be just a result of the economic recession.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | March 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

gmbka - I'm sure the disposable diaper industry is looking forward to taking on THAT task!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

What I saw instead, at first glance, was a short woman with dark straight hair flying wildly about her face and what I detected, given her whirling motion, to be epicanthic folds about her eyes--a woman who has a fully functional version of the SLC24A5 gene but who in the history of the human species has acquired mutations in other genes that account for lighter skin than those who don't have those additional mutations, which results in the lighter skin, while retaining the darker hair--who was dancing the wildest dance between a wide striped zone between two cars as she emerged from the restaurant. My husband said that the other older man was also dancing. The music wasn't conjunto, but one of the old, classic canciones. What was kind of funny, was she kept dancing and dancing and dancing. Sort of a cross between the twist and the

Happy now? Given the rewrite? Certainly adds to the flow of the piece, don't you think, and removes all doubt--given the genetic information, doesn't it? Some of you are so full of BS it isn't even funny.

I have no idea what to make of the first item in the 9:49 a.m. post. But give me enough breath and I have plenty to say about the Russian figure skaters recent costumnes and how ridiculouys many of your arguments were that afternoon. Some here live just for silly season and ridiculous arguments.

But it's a gorgeous day. Turquoise sky, the violent storm that woke me and my dog last night has passed. Sam Champion says there's magma in Iceland, so a wonderful afternoon to sit outside and read some McPhee that I haven't before--specifically, Iceland.

Posted by: laloomis | March 25, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I just love love love this story:

James Cameron blasts Glenn Beck

By Alex Ben Block
Wednesday, March 24, 2010; 3:06 AM

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Avatar" director James Cameron lashed out at Glenn Beck at a press conference Tuesday, offering to debate the Fox News personality on environmental and political issues.

Asked what he thought about Beck during a junket appearance in support of the "Avatar" home-video release, Cameron said: "Glenn Beck is a f---ing a--hole. I've met him. He called me the anti-Christ, and not about 'Avatar.' He hadn't even seen 'Avatar' yet. I don't know if he has seen it."

Cameron apparently was referring to Beck's reaction to his 2007 documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," which casts doubt on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and makes the case that the ancient Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries belonged to Jesus' family.

While working for CNN, Beck teed up an on-air interview with Cameron with the following comment, according to a CNN transcript: "Many people believe James Cameron officially has tossed his hat in the ring today and is officially running for anti-Christ."

After blasting Beck, Cameron, surrounded by journalists inside a West Hollywood hillside mansion, seemed to reconsider: "I think, you know what, he may or may not be an a----, [my deletion for wirty dird purposes] but he certainly is dangerous, and I'd love to have a dialogue with him."

And some excerpts:

"Asked if he felt the right wing's attacks against him were continuing, Cameron replied: "They're not attacks. They're just people ranting away, lost in their little bubbles of reality, steeped in their own hatred, their own fear and hatred."


"The "Avatar" director was equally unsparing in his comments about those who don't accept global warming as fact.

"I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads," Cameron said. Turning more serious, he added: "Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their a$$ I'm not sure they could hear me."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Dong Energy is a division of Wang Industries, a member of the Johnson Group.

Posted by: kguy1


I trust management adheres to The Peter Principle.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 25, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

We humans exhibit a diverse range of skin types, hair types, facial structures, yet, as far as I know, we can all reproduce together. The images I've seen of Neanderthals don't look that different from the images of homo sapiens. This observation is the basis of my skepticism that the ancestors of present-day humans could not reproduce with Neanderthals. Because if we could, then for sure, we did. I am perfectly ready, however, to be convinced otherwise.

BC, I saw that episode - you rocked on Tool Academy!

Posted by: jamkidd | March 25, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel might have stumbled upon something:

He writes that Bin Laden might "get his dander up" and say, "Now I'm really in a lather."

And then he writes that "we're dumping loads of hormones and weird chemicals -- unmetabolized -- into the environment every time we take a shower or a bath."


Maybe Osama's next attack on the United States will take the form of a nice hot bath that drains into your water supply.

Does anyone know if the NSA has looked into spikes in the sales of rubber duckies and washcloths in Pakistan? Does Afghan tv show commercials with the tag line, "Calgon, take me away, and Death To America"?

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 25, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Neanderthal Schmeanderthal! This is all old news and was covered exhaustively in the 1970 Burt Reynolds epic "Skullduggery." Sorry I can't find a clip. Herewith a still of the "missing linkettes"-

and the NYT review-

Posted by: kguy1 | March 25, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Enternpfuhl, you make a convincing rebuttal, except for all the parts where you are flamingly wrong.

"Fatalities from motor vehicle traffic crashes declined by
868 (2%) from 43,510 in 2005 to 42,642 in 2006. However,
motorcycle rider fatalities increased by 5.1 percent, from
4,576 in 2005 to 4,810 in 2006. Motorcycle rider fatalities as
a proportion of overall fatalities increased from 10.5 percent
in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2006. Motorcycle rider fatalities in the past five years increased by 47 percent, from 3,270 in 2002
to 4,810 in 2006.


injured in traffic crashes in the United States — 13 percent more than
the 4,028 motorcyclist fatalities and 14 percent more than the 76,000
motorcyclist injuries reported in 2004.

How about this one? "Over the past decade, the number of motorcyclist fatalities has risen 123 percent, from 2,161 in 1996 to 4,810 in 2006."

Up, by 123 percent, Entenpfuhl. You were off by a wee tiny little bit. But hey, I'll give ya closies. Yeah, maybe the small sample size in Rhode Island distorted the numbers, who knows.

Hey, but what about 2007, you protest!

"However, there were 5,154 motorcycle deaths in 2007 -- the highest number since the federal government began tracking deaths in 1975. That was a 6.6% increase from 2007 and represented 13% of all fatalities nationwide."


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Must.. keep.. straight.. face..

In regards to ancestral physiognomy, I once worked at a place with two Larrys. I asked one of the office people something and she said to ask Larry. I said, which Larry, and she wouldn't say anything! They had no real distinguishing characteristics, except one Larry had dark brown skin. I had to ask her. I wanted to raise my voice and say "It's a description, for crying out loud! It's not disallowed!"

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 25, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

There's been a lot of wisdom spewed hereabouts over the past couple of days.
I'm glad to see things are returning to normal.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

jamkidd, LOL.


Posted by: -bc- | March 25, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

jamkidd, a donkey and a horse don't necessarily look extremely different and can produce offspring, but mules and hinnies are sterile.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | March 25, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

laloomis, quit being such a weep. The point was her genetic make-up doesn't matter, and adds nothing to the tale, but indeed, your blatant racism detracts from it. And you know that. YOU are the only one who mentions race, and you do it *all the time*. It makes you appear provincial, old, and out of touch. You describe yourself as California born and raised, currently Texas resident. You put out there that you have one eye, you've worked as a reporter (which I doubt) and you have some genetic disorder that doesn't require medication but seems to be a catch-all for everything wrong with you. But nothing about YOUR race. You seem to think that you're some sort of bellwether for proper behavior, yet my 6 year old has better social skills than you do.

And you know darned well what CqP was saying at 9:49. You're not that stupid.

You're worse than Archie Bunker. Stop mentioning race. And stop pretending you're a reporter. It's beyond tiresome.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 25, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

But hey, you know how the gummint, lies, right, Entenpfuhl? So let's see what Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say:

"Riding motorcycles is commonly considered a dangerous recreational pursuit. Just how risky? Motorcyclist fatalities have more than doubled in 10 years and reached 4,810 in 2006, accounting for 11 percent of total highway fatalities, according to recent analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI)."

and they add:

"Supersport bike riders have death rates that are four times greater than average for all motorcycle types, says the IIHS. These so-called rockets are essentially racing bikes modified for highway use. Engineered for speed, they typically have more horsepower per pound than other bikes. A 2006 model Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, for example, produces 111 horsepower and weighs 404 pounds. In contrast, the 2006 model Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a touring motorcycle, produces 65 horsepower and weighs 788 pounds.

"Supersport motorcycles are indeed nimble and quick, but they also can be deadly," says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. "These bikes made up less than 10 percent of registered motorcycles in 2005 but accounted for over 25 percent of rider deaths."


Motorcycle Fatalities At 9-Year High, And The Cause Might Surprise You
July 23, 2008

Higher gas prices are leading to higher motorcycle sales. In 1997 there were 356,000 motorcycles sold. In 2006 there were 1.1 million motorcycles sold. In the same time frame motorcycle fatalities rose nationally from 2,110 to 4,810.

Nationally passenger car fatalities are at a 15-year low, but motorcycle fatalities are at a 9-year high. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a comprehensive report on motorcycle safety, and while wearing a helmet is always important, the main cause for the sudden increase in motorcycle fatalities appears to be a lack of proper training for new riders.

AAA found that improper driving skills were a factor in 51% of the crash fatalities involving motorcycles and that one in four motorcyclist involved in a fatal crash nationally did NOT have a valid license. Only 16 states mandate motorcycle training."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The 2008 numbers?

"A total of 5,091 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2008. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and have continued to increase. Since 1997 motorcyclist deaths have more than doubled, reaching a record 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2008. "More motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2008 than in any year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting fatal crash data in 1975. In contrast, at 25,428, fewer passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes in 2008 than in any year in this time period."

The 2009 numbers aren't out yet, so I can't argue there's still an increase. But by the same token you can't argue they have declined.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I think our Boodle-Boss must be on sumpin, because there's a new Kit.

Posted by: -ftb- | March 25, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I strongly suspect that the Old People (ancient ones, ancestors, not-quite-people, whatever) were just as violent as any other population of human-types at any other time. I'm deeply skeptical of any claim that societal (using the word loosely) violence began with the advent of any particular weapons technology, or the advent of Western European male genetic characteristics. For one thing, it seriously disrespects the ancient, non-Western cultures which may have been armed with wood or stone but managed to do some serious damage to their neighbors. The argument is also, in its own slightly twisted way, stunningly Eurocentric.

The whole "better weapons" argument is a slippery slope. Sure, metal weapons were probably more effective than wood and more portable than stone. However, why single them out? One could argue that the culture didn't get really violent until the advent of guns, since they made it easier to kill people at a distance. Then you have to start distinguishing between guns that work and those that don't, between flintlock and muzzle-loaders and Sten guns and fully automatic machine guns. By that criteria we get into artillery - same discussion of cannon fire versus missiles - and wind up with the atomic bomb. Or we can veer off into chemical and biological warfare. I don't think the weapons make the people more violent. Weapons just make it easier for people to express their violent tendencies. This is why I favor gun control.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 25, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

And here's a report that gives the 2008 motorcycle fatals as 5,290

It notes that injuried riders declined for the first time in many years, from 103,000 in 2007 to 96,000 in 2008.

But you go right ahead thinking your rates are declining. And keep telling everyone that, too. You know how it is when you say something often enough and loudly enough.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 25, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I notice that the main Post story on the fossil discovery removed the word "ancestor" from the headline and copy and replaced it with the more nebulous "forerunner" and "lineage" -- although JA has used "ancestor" here. They also removed the reference to a "new species" and now explicitly note that it has not been declared to be one.

I have to disagree with Mudge on this; it's not nitpicking. "Ancestor" has a specific meaning, not a generic one, especially when used in a scientific context. Based on the existing evidence, calling this an "ancestor" is like calling your cousin your grandfather. (Although, I guess it's possible to have a cousin who is also one's grandfather.)

Jamkidd, while it's possible that Neanderthal's and modern humans interbred, the DNA evidence is that they didn't -- or at least didn't leave any descendants. Take a look at the link Jumper1 posted at 12:45.

Posted by: rashomon | March 25, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It's Greek Independence Day. Let's celebrate.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I had an Air Force buddy Harry (with dark brown skin) who had fun terrorizing a young airman one day who had innocently referred to Harry's black car.

With menacing glower, "Black car? Why do you say that? If it was white, would you have called it a white car?"

With great trepidation, "Yes, I think so."

Breaking into big grin, "Oh, OK then."

Posted by: bobsewell | March 25, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The Siberian Finger is a good example of how new genetic methods are overturning our ways of viewing the living and fairly-recently-dead world.

The Orlando Sentinel has a video (which I haven't watched) showing UF football coach Urban Meyer berating (or is it "attacking") a Sentinel reporter. I'm not looking forward to the fallout.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 25, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The escaped pharmaceuticals have been getting creepy for some time. Anyone remember the sexually mixed-up alligators of Lake Apopka some years ago?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 25, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"What I saw instead, at first glance, was a lady with yellow skin and slanty eyes doing a silly dance so I laughed at her. Turns out she was the wife of a famous politician who did a bunch of favors for Enron."

Fixed it for you.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 25, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

There is no way modern Homo Sapiens would have tolerated the presence of another human species. Our modern history shows that we would have hunted them down and extinguished them because they looked different, smelled different, or buried their dead differently.

Pity the poor Homo Neanderthalis in their final encounter with armed modern humans.

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 25, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

There is no way modern Homo Sapiens would have tolerated the presence of another human species. Our modern history shows that we would have hunted them down and extinguished them because they looked different, smelled different, or buried their dead differently.

Pity the poor Homo Neanderthalis in their final encounter with armed modern humans.

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 25, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

new kit....

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 25, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

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