bookmark_borderDoes equality breed conservatism?

There’s an article in the New York Times today. Most of it is to US-centric to be of great relevance here, but this paragraph made me think:

Measured by money income, Washington qualifies as one the most unequal cities in the United States. Yet these two very different halves of a single city do share at least one thing. They vote the same way: Democratic. And in this, we are not alone. As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican. The gap between rich and poor in Washington is nearly twice as great as in strongly Republican Charlotte, N.C.; and more than twice as great as in Republican-leaning Phoenix, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and Anaheim.

If this is true, is this because people in equal places want to become unequal, and vice versa?

I do wonder whether it’s universally applicable, though. Scandinavians don’t seem to be going for conservative parties in droves, for instance.

bookmark_borderBad translation prolonging the Russo-Georgian war

There’s an interesting article today in The Telegraph about how bad translations from the French original has prolonged the war in Georgia:

One reason for the continuation of the conflict now appears to be a passage in the Russian translation of the agreement that speaks of security “for” South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The English version speaks of security “in” the two areas.

The difference is crucial, because Russia continues to keep its tanks and armed troops “in” Georgian territory. The international community, in turn, wants security “for” South Ossetia and Abkhazia without the Russian army staying in Georgia.

bookmark_borderThose strange Finns

A genetic map of Europe.
A genetic map of Europe. Some abbreviations: DK=Copenhagen, UK=London, DE1=Kiel, DE2=Augsburg, FI=Helsinki, NL=Rotterdam, HU=Hungary, IT1=Italy, IT2=Marche (Italy), FR=Lyon.

There’s an article in Videnskab (in Danish) about some researchers who’ve made a genetic map of Europe.

It shows that Finns very much are the odd man out, but the Italians and to a certain extent the English also display some differences.

Unfortunately, they haven’t sampled any Scots. And I wonder where Anna would show up, with her mixture of Scottish, Danish and South German genes – would she look Dutch? 😉

Given that Finnish is a non-Indoeuropean language, I’m not overly surprised that they’re genetically different, but given that their language is related to Hungarian, it’s a bit more surprising that the latter seem to fit right in – did they mix more with the previous population?

bookmark_borderBristol’s first or second child?

Originally uploaded by lonelysandwich

Sarah Palin’s announcement that her daughter Bristol is pregnant seems to have convinced some bloggers that Trig must then have been Sarah’s, not Bristol’s, as many used to think.

However, Phyllis and I have been discussing this a lot, and we think the following points need to be addressed before we are convinced:

  • Why were all family photos of Sarah and Bristol taken during the pregnancy leading to Trig’s birth removed from the servers over the weekend?
  • Why are there no photos or videos of Sarah Palin at the conference in Dallas that she attended after her waters broke on the 17th of April?
  • How did she manage to have a 22-hour labour with her fifth child (that weighed only 6 pounds)? Subsequent babies are normally fast.
  • Why is Trig’s birth not registered at the hospital where he was reportedly born?
  • Why has Sarah Palin not put an end to all the gossip by releasing complete birth records for Trig?
  • Why are there no medical witnesses, for both amnio and birth?
  • Given that she knew that the baby had Down’s, why was she willing to take the risk of travelling while in labour? Down’s babies are often born with heart defects and need resuscitating.
  • Phyllis’s fourth pregnancy was noticed around 18 weeks (4½ months) – why wasn’t Sarah’s at 7 months, especially given that she was huge during earlier pregnancies?
  • Given Trig’s weight when he was born one month prematurely, it sounds odd that Sarah Palin should have been smaller this time than during earlier pregnancies.
  • Why was Bristol away from school for five months? And if she wasn’t, why hasn’t there been an official statement from her school to confirm her attendance?
  • If she really had glandular fever, why was she involved in car crashes (including one outside the maternity clinic)?
  • Down’s babies tend to be smaller than average, so Trig does not appear to be one month premature based on his weight.
  • How pregnant is Bristol at the moment? The official statements have been very vague, although it would be so easy to give the gestation in weeks. Given that they’re using this pregnancy to say that she can’t have been pregnant before, this is important. For instance, if she’s only four months pregnant, that matches her first ovulation after an 18th April birth. Especially for young women, getting pregnant again almost immediately after birth is not rare.
  • Bristol went from being flat-chested to having a fertile pair of breasts in a few months. Breasts grow during pregnancy.
  • Current photos of Bristol show her to be incredibly big for a first pregnancy, especially for a teenager. On the other hand, a second pregnancy within one year wouldn’t let the body get any chance to get back in shape.
  • Going back to work on the third day after birth stretches the imagination. It’s the day the milk comes in, and most women would still be hæmorrhaging substantial amounts.

It would be so easy to make everybody stop speculating by releasing birth certificates and a few statements from people involved. Then the election could get back on track instead of focusing so much on Sarah Palin’s trustworthiness.

bookmark_borderWhy are they talking about Gustav?

2005-8-25 Hurricane Katrina
Originally uploaded by tiswango

Hurricane Katrina was an important news story in many ways, not least because it came as a partial surprise.

This time the media seem to have decided not to be surprised again, and they seem all to have placed tons of reporters in Louisiana.

However, Gustav is now only a Category-1 hurricane, and while I would expect that to be reported if it happened in Scotland, I really don’t expect to hear about such minor event if they happen abroad.

However, all the news channels seem to be reporting non-stop from the area, standing upright with hats on their heads, with birds flying in the background, talking about the horrible storm they’re experiencing…