December 30 Link Roundup

Here’s a great list of “The Sixty Best Books by Women Every Man Should Read (But Could Always Ignore and Stick to Philip Roth)”. I’m looking forward to reading these!

Scientists with the WHO have developed a safe and effective vaccine for ebola virus disease! Slightly pales in comparison to the accomplishment of Donald Henderson, who led the WHO to eliminate smallpox by 1979 and died this August, but small steps!

What happens when you build a new home on the spot your family was murdered? (See also: my link a few weeks ago on how individuals killed in the Bosnian genocide are still being identified.)

Robert Jensen is a specialist in mass casualty situations where body parts and personal belongings need to be identified and returned to family members. CN: every graphic death you’re anxious about.

Anja Shortland explores the economics of kidnapping and ransom insurance; on the flip side, Eugene Soltes investigates the psychology of white-collar criminals. Apparently when you have lots of money, things get weird.

It’s possible in Japan to just disappear, usually out of shame. There are even companies that will help you do it.

pie has made it into space to celebrate the small British town of Wigan’s World Pie Eating Championship.

Finally, the best yearly roundup is out: Deadspin’s What Did We Get Stuck in Our Rectums Last Year? Please, friends, stay safe next year and don’t end up as some ER doc’s cocktail party tale of woe.

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December 16 Link Roundup

This post explores the ubiquitous BRAAAM sound heard on soundtracks everywhere since Inception. I particularly like that the author asks my favorite question about the change in movie soundtracks from the classical model to the Hans Zimmer model – “Is it a good thing or a bad thing?” – realizing that there isn’t really an answer, at least not a nostalgia-filled pretentious one.

Kennewick Man/the Ancient One is going to be returned to the Washington State Dept of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, which has plans to return him to the Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, and Colville tribes for reburial. The case of who has the right to use Kennewick Man’s bones has been going on since 1996.

Nike has launched a project to get top athletes to run a sub-2 hour marathon. Currently the world record (for men) is 2:02:57 (it’s 2:15:25 for women, FYI). My record is 4:29:15. I’m rather jealous of the author’s time at his first half-marathon attempt (1:41). As my best after three is 1:58, I completely blame it on height; I need to move my tiny legs much faster than the author at 6’5.

Last week, Digging For Britain Series 5 (featuring Alice Roberts) aired on BBC4. I was the osteology consultant, responsible for laying out the skeletons brought in by archaeologists from around the country. Here are some screenshots of my work with a skeleton from the Merlin’s Cave site, Wye Valley, Herefordshire:

December Holiday Stuff

I don’t celebrate the December holidays. I have all the things I need, and I’m going to be hanging out with my family while we all pointedly ignore jingles and gifts and stuff. However, there are many, many people who do not have all the things they need. In fact, many lack basic amenities like water and food. If you’re interested in making life a little bit less difficult for those people, consider donating to one of the following organizations.

Comment with organizations you’d like to support.

December 9 Link Roundup

Pantone has picked my favorite color as Color of the Year 2017. I’ve been prepared for this day for years.

Here’s a list of dystopian novels focusing on reproductive rights! Prepare to enter pregnancy body horror city.

Sexual fluidity is real, argues researcher Lisa Diamond. It is possible for one’s sexual orientation to change. I’ll write about this sometime. In the famous words of author Chuck Tingle, “all love is real for those who kiss”. He also said we should kiss planes because they are handsome, which – while an appropriate expression of object-based sexuality – might get one in trouble with airport authorities.

Here are 52 facts.

Four new elements have been named! They’re Nihonium (113), Moscovium (115), Tennesine (117), and Oganessen (118).

This adorable bird named Obi wore tiny goggles and flew through a laser so researchers could learn more about the airflow around wings.

My college friend Sarah, now a lawyer, has started a podcast exploring legal situations in fiction. The first episode is about Minority Report, which really violates the 4th Amendment.

The project to excavate and identify the dead from Bosnia’s war continues. Most are from mass graves.

The Philippines has seen 3500 homicides since July 1 of this year, many of which are extrajudicial executions in response to President Duterte’s war on drugs. One photojournalist captured 41 murder scenes. (Content note: graphic photos of murders)

Here’s a fascinating article about a dating sites for Truthers, people who believe conspiracy theories about 9/11, Sandy Hook, and vaccines. Turns out they want love just like the sheeple. It also has a handy link to a site proving that yes, planes do leave behind harmless contrails, although Truthers aren’t likely to be any more convinced by that than they were by Obama’s birth certificate.

Once again, more research shows that giving poor people money is more effective than giving them goods and services: it allows them to make their own choices, and those choices are usually good. (Speaking of which: if you’re in the UK, you can now download an app to help St Mungo’s find people sleeping rough and provide assistance.)

Anthropologist Barbara King considers the evidence for Neanderthal religion.

December 2 Link Roundup

More on the Lucy-in-the-trees theory, this time from biomechanics: the cortical thickness and relative musculature of Lucy’s humeri are more chimp-like than human-like. This is a much more convincing argument than the one claiming A. afarensis were arboreal because Lucy’s bones indicate that she died falling from a tree, when taphonomic factors were not considered.

Elephants are being born without tusks as a result of poachers targeting those with larger tusks. Anyone looking for a really sad example of selection pressure?

The FDA has approved drug trials to test whether MDMA can be used to treat PTSD. Good work, MAPS! MDMA has shown promise in smaller trials that have helped individuals suffering from PTSD who did not see improvement through traditional treatment protocols.

Nicholas Kristof at NYT wrote a list of suggested charities to give to this holiday season.

Here’s a fascinating and mind-boggling descent into millionaire offshore accounts.

China’s missing girls are probably not missing due to demographic factors (abortion, infanticide) – the reasons are likely political.