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The usual. Also, I have the ear, so to speak, of the management, so if you want tech/usability features, etc., do tell.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration 
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Until further notice this is my last post as a blogger at Discover Magazine. This shouldn’t impact regular readers. As always you can follow me by going to:

My feed, http://feeds.feedburner.com/RazibKhansTotalFeed

My Twitter, https://twitter.com/razibkhan

And of course, my website, http://www.razib.com

From December 1st, 2013, I will be blogging at Ron Unz’s new website, The Unz Review, at a familar subdomain http://www.unz.com/gnxp (feed, http://www.unz.com/rkhan/feed).

I’m excited to explore this new opportunity. Ron is still nailing down the details of look, style, and functionality, so expect some changes on my Gene Expression sub-site. To make a long story short Ron wanted to beef up his science coverage, and I was amenable. At least when it comes to my particular bailiwick. Ron has merged my archives from the old Gene Expression website with the content generated at ScienceBlogs and Discover, so no matter where I go, or if I stop blogging due to other obligations, those archives will remain as a coherent whole.

I want to emphasize that my time at Discover was incredible. I want to give special thanks to Tasha Eichenseher, Amos Zeeberg, and Sheril Kirshenbaum. As it happens none of these individuals are associated with Discover at this point (Tasha is leaving as well), but they were instrumental in allowing me to either be here (in Sheril’s case) or focus on writing (in Tasha and Amos’ case). I assume you’ll be somewhat surprised that I mention Sheril, but I feel like I have to give special thanks to her because I’m 99% sure that it was her “good word” which allowed me to catch the eye of an outfit as respectable as Discover. Unlike a blogger as writerly as Ed Yong, or Sheril herself, I’ve always been more data nerd-cum-verbal pugilist. So this leads me to praise the great management skills of the two web editors I’ve had while being a blogger at Discover. They’ve let “Razib be Razib,” by and large letting me do my thing (though yes, in the interests of professionalism I’ve moved most of the more “direct” verbal volleys to Twitter). I really can’t thank anyone else at Discover because I barely knew they existed, which, in light of recent events, seems like a good thing. Overall I give Discover a good grade in terms of understanding how blogging should be run, with a light hand. This, despite the fact that I often put up posts which rubbed many “right-thinking-people” the wrong way, and scoured the comment threads acidly.

There’s really not much else to say. Aside from a new domain, don’t expect many changes.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Administration 
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Finished J. P. Mallory’s The Origins of the Irish. Good book, but it was as illuminating as to the origins of the Irish as Danel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained was in explaining consciousness.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Change is the only constant.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Six months back there was a lot of discussion of Y haplogroup A00, An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree. Now there’s an attempt by some of the researchers on that paper to raise money to collect more samples. Which of Cameroon’s peoples have members of haplogroup A00?:

This is Round Two of our fundraising for our groundbreaking research on the world’s earliest-branching Y-chromosome lineage, A00. Its origins lie in the earliest days of humanity’s emergence, the exact time very much in debate, but almost surely over 200,000 years ago. We first discovered it in early 2012, when the results of the Perrys’ Y-DNA tests were unlike anything seen before. We learned that they have matches among some of the diverse peoples of Southwest Cameroon. The new samples to be collected by Matthew in his homeland will allow us to learn much more about A00.


In other news, there has been a recent flare up over what has transpired over DNLee’s response to what looks like to be a content farm. To make a long story short what happened is that one of the administrators floated the idea of her guest blogging on their website. She asked if there was any compensation. This prompted invective on the part of the administrator. I get asked to guest blog for free, or be a participant in interviews, frequently. I don’t have time, and at this point I ignore most emails. A few times I’ve responded, and the posts/interview were never posted. There are a lot of shady operators out there.

But the bigger issue with “WhoreGate” is that Scientific American (at least its blog arm) removed the post DNLee put up which outlined why she was angry and offended without consultation. Honestly I didn’t see her post as particularly impolite or unhinged considering the rudeness that she was trying to call out; I’d probably have reacted more vociferously. I also left a few comments in broad support of DNLee on Twitter. But perhaps it might be useful that I clarify some issues here. My reaction was not much triggered by the racial or sexual angle (at least toward Scientific American). Unlike most science bloggers I don’t much care about diversity in science communication or among science bloggers.*

Rather, my issue is that it disrespects what it means for someone like DNLee to write on the internet as a ‘blogger.’ Mainstream media, blogging, etc., are all merging together. But there are still distinctions. Scientific American is a venerable publication which happens to be part of Nature Publishing Group. You can be pretty sure that bloggers are not paid at the same rate as staff writers or even freelancers. But, as a form of compensation bloggers are given freedom to write about what they want, how they want, within limits. For a place like Scientific American (or frankly Discover) that is essential non-monetary compensation. Before I joined Discover I had several long conversations with the web editor of the time about the amount of freedom and latitude I was going to be given. I spent probably 2-3 hours talking about this issue, and perhaps 15 minutes mulling over compensation. If I was a staff writer the ratio would be different, and perhaps inverted even.

This is why the behavior of Scientific American is offensive to me. There isn’t anything I can see that is libelous in DNLee’s post. Scientific American put a lame explanation up that posts are supposed to be about ‘discovering science.’ This just isn’t convincing in light of a vast range of posting topics on the network. By removing her post without giving her any warning or heads up Scientific American treated her like they would treat any employee. That’s how the corporate machine roles. But they aren’t paying her like they pay any employee. They’re paying her far less. This is where I might state “this is very problematic.” But more plainly it is wrong in a normative sense, and not very smart in a pragmatic one. It is wrong because even if it is not explicit, there is often an implicit understanding between institutions which sponsor blog networks and individuals that authors are given generous latitude, and changes to rules of the game will be transparent. Because in most cases purely financial incentives are modest, at best, the institutions really don’t have leverage in that domain. This is why several bloggers on DNLee’s network are rumbling so loudly. What exactly is going to keep them there? And would being kicked off be so much of a problem? If you can’t write what you want to write, at least without threat of it being yanked without warning, what’s the point?

Finally, you might consider that there are more warm bodies out there they could find who would be willing to follow the same rules of being creatively constrained as regular writers,** and at far less pay. But that’s already around, they’re called content farms. How’s that worked out? Scientific American has a great roster. For now.

* Diversity as in the standard Left-liberal concerns of race, class, sex, and gender.

** I’m probably being somewhat unfair to non-bloggers in terms of how little freedom they have. Compared to a ‘regular job’ they have quite a bit of liberty. But not so much compared to bloggers.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Administration, Open Thread 
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Back from Canine Feline Genomics Conference. Turns out most variation between dog breeds may be due to correlated allele frequency differences, not fixed ones (i.e., Lewontin’s Fallacy applies to dogs too!).

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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I hope we don’t bomb Syria. El Yucateco XXXtra Hot Kutbil-ik Mayan Style Habanero Hot Sauce is delicious.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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This is probably the longest stretch of time with me not posting much since May/June of 2010. But I’ll be back to offering my opinions and analyses soon enough. Also, I should probably mention that I’ll be presenting at the 7th International Conference on Advances in Canine and Feline Genomics and Inherited Diseases (a.k.a. the cat & dog conference) at the end of the month (I’ll be in Cambridge/Boston 23rd to 29th). I’ll be rather busy the whole week, but I thought I would mention it in case some readers see someone who looks like me around the Broad Institute and are curious. Higher chance than normal that it is me.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Very excited that my daughter was thumbing through The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection yesterday. Previous to this she took a fancy to Christian Meeir’s Caesar: A Biography.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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I probably won’t be posting much in the second half of August. Just a note. Twitter feed will be active(ish) though.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Summer is racing….

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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I thought it might be useful for new readers to understand a bit about my comments policy and how I’ve come this stance. Let me give you an example of one individual who occasionally left comments on my blog, often combative, though just on the legitimate side of the trolling boundary. One of the major tactics of argument of this individual was to impute upon me particular life experiences which he thought I must have had, and so shaped my opinions. Though I do not share much about my personal life online, I do go by my “real name,” and over 11+ years of writing on the internet one can construct a rough narrative from stray anecdotes. The key is though that this picture is rough. After one exchange where my interlocutor made an inference based on his own perception of various likelihoods about me, I tired of the one sided game (he was anonymous), and looked him upon on Facebook. I left a quick comment to that effect, and asserted now the scales were somewhat balanced. He never left a comment after that incident.

This brought home to me the reality that many commenters have a very different set of motivations than I do. Once I could inverse my commenter’s tendency to make personal insinuations he fled the scene, because he was not invested in fair play in the first place. And why should he have been? I could have banned or deleted his comments at any moment, so it was natural that he operated differently. Many bloggers let comment threads to develop organically. This often results in the proliferation of “weeds.” I take proactive and aggressive measure to make sure that weeds do not take root. It is easy to ban and remove obvious trolls, but it takes more information to identify and prune self-important blowhards. But it isn’t as if I don’t give warning, if I state that you are leaving ‘low quality’ comments that is a good clue that you are liable to be banned at some point in the future if my warnings persist. There is a difference between marginal quality comments, and low quality. The former are short missives which do not perturb the ecosystem. The latter are longer ruminations which tend to bog down the discussion in their turgid obliviousness.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Every now and then Ed Yong has a “de-lurking” post up. That reminds me that it is often useful for long time readers who rarely comment, as they see they are not alone. I won’t put any stipulations on what you have to say (aside from that it has to be about who you are, etc.). So in imitation of Ed I figured that this is as good a time as any to open up the floor (and, I know there’s a large intersection of readership, so you may be practiced).

Addendum: I put the 2011 reader survey raw results online, if anyone wants to process them. I should do something like that again soon….

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Definitely summer….


(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Mid-July is here. Time flies. Also, if you haven’t check out PubChase if you need something to manage your papers and give you recommendations.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Worth following this week, #smbe13 hashtag on Twitter (I will be).

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Please keep track of Twitter hashtag #evol2013. Also, if you haven’t you might consider following me on Twitter, as much of the “linking/pointing/short commenting” aspects of blogging have moved over to that medium.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Haven’t been posting much because I’ve busy with a lot of things right now. So tell me what’s been happening the past week?

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Speak.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Spring is upon us!

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com"