Dr. Malthus, I Presume?

There are many theories of what makes rich countries richer than the poor ones: honest government, an educated population, a market economy, better citizens, suppression of corruption.  I would guess that each of these has some weight in the final analysis.  Being blessed with natural resources, or at least, with oil, can help for a while.  Having a war on your territory is obviously a big negative.

For me, though, Dr. Malthus is still king of the heap.  His observation that the exponential character of reproduction could outpace any plausible increases in productivity is still the key to understanding relative economies.   Indeed, many countries blessed with enormous wealth have seen the profits gobbled up by every increasing numbers of hungry mouths.  The countries that have stayed rich for a long time all seem to have low fertility.

Such diverse countries as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Czechia and Cuba have all seen rather dramatic per capita economic growth in this century.  What they ha…

Cry for Argentina

Argentina looked listless, incompetent and clueless in its crushing 3-0 loss to Croatia.  They couldn't pass, couldn't win 50-50 balls, couldn't keep possession and couldn't get the ball to Messi.  And, in the end, they couldn't even get back on defense.

Croatia beat them up, physically and mentally.

Soccer: Da Rules

My latest attempt to tell the soccer world how to play its game is inspired by the Colombia-Japan travesty.  Clearly the penalty for a goal stopping handball in the penalty foul needed to be severe, but I expect that the one awarded (red card at three minute mark plus a penalty kick) was worth at least three goals - and that's ridiculous.  The stupidest rules in soccer are the penalty kick, the red card, and the one on one soccer game to resolve ties.  I propose to ditch all three.  Also, soccer has way too many fouls and way too variable penalties for fouls.

In the case of a foul like the Colombian handball foul, simply copy basketball's goal-tending rule and award the point.  If you really need to sit down a player, do it for a prescribed time, as in hockey. Say ten minutes in the penalty box for a severe foul like the Colombian foul.  Other fouls by the defense in the penalty box should get 5 minutes plus a corner kick.  All other fouls would get time in penalty box plus a …

Applied Molecular Biology: Eggplant

For: Eggplant Parmesan

Casting Shade on Bohr

The semi-famous philosopher Tim Maudlin takes on a couple of books in a review entitled
The Defeat of Reason.  One of the books, What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics by Adam Becker, is concerned with Bohr and the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, and I won't discuss the other one.  I first heard of the book, the review, and an apparent comment on the review by linguist and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker via a critique by Lubos Motl.  Lumo's review, as usual, was long on invective but short on fact and logic, but it did pique my interest.

If I recall correctly, I once wrote a post entitled "Tim Maudlin is an Idiot", so I'm not a member of his fan club.  He is, however, a philosopher who knows a lot about quantum mechanics and history, so my dismissal was perhaps a bit harsh.  That said, I am not impressed by his review, and, based on that review, unimpressed by the book.

The basic argument appears to be that Ni…

Mexico 1, Germany 0

A lot of teams are probably wondering today where they can find some more of those prostitutes the Mexican team allegedly partied with before the World Cup.

Their shocking victory over the Germans was hard earned, but they also had to get pretty lucky, and get some darn good goalkeeping.  Both teams, but especially Germany, left a number of goals on the field, as a large number of good opportunities were squandered.

Mexico looks dangerous, and so, of course, does Germany, but they need to figure out how to patch a leaky midfield.

Rakhigarhi: DNA vs PC Indian Style

Vasant Shinde, the principal investigator on the Rakhigarhi DNA from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) has given an bizarre interview on his results.  Apparently they were not very successful in their attempts to extract ancient DNA, probably not too surprising since both they and their Korean partners were beginners in the business, but they do seem to have gotten useful DNA from two skeletons.  Those genomes showed Iranian DNA but no Central Asian DNA.  Now for the weird part.  From an article in The Tribune:
Three years after digging out human skeletons from the Harappan-era graveyard in Rakhigarhi village, archaeologists have concluded that there was no large-scale influx of foreigners or migration of locals, indicating those living in Haryana and the Ghaggar basin now are descendants of original inhabitants.Prof Vasant Shinde, Vice Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune, said on Friday that the DNA analysis of 5,000-year-old skeletal remains belonging to the Indus Valley Civilisatio…