Paleodemography and the Plague

Paleodemography, like demography, is concerned with mortality, fertility, population structure and life expectancy (among other things). Unlike demography proper, paleodemography rarely has written records such as birth and death certificates to draw on and has to rely on skeletal indicators of age, gender, etc. This has lead to some heavy criticisms of the field (“A Farewell to Paleodemography”, “Paleodemography: Not Quite Dead Yet”, etc. and yes the latter tittle is a Monty Python reference) which I don’t intend to discuss here. Suffice to say, the field has had to develop some interesting methodologies to overcome some of the limitations in the data of interest.

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It’s Like They Had An Anthropologist Studying Us

Whoever drew this cartoon knows us too well and must be silenced.*

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Vampire Bat on A Treadmill

Does one ever need a good reason to post videos of bats – especially vampire bats?

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Security Bear is Here for Your Emotional Support

Uptight and edgy because the Islamofacist hoardes is be stealing your wimmin-folk?
Nervous and fearful because there is an Islamofacist hiding behind everytree?
Hysterically panic every time you hear the word “Muslim”
Well, your problems have been solved because Security Bear is here for your emotional support! Security Bear knows that in order to defeat the terrorists over there, he has to spy…on…you…over…here. Okay, never mind the logic, just gaze into the soft doe-like eyes of Security Bear and enjoy his snuggly goodness and all your fears will melt away.

The Cowardice of the Discovery Channel

I’ve been meaning to mention this story for about a week now. It concerns some cowardly behavior on the part of the Discovery Channel. You see, they bought the American rights to Taxi to the Darkside – a documentary that examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver – a death caused by the torture inflicted on him by U.S. officials at Bagram Air Base. The director of the documentary was promised it would receive a prominent broadcast. Unfortunately, the Discovery Channel has reneged and will not be airing the documentary because:

Now, however, Discovery has dropped its plans to air the documentary because the film is too controversial.

Given the current controversy over waterboarding and torture in general, I find it ironic and more than a little paternalistic that the Discovery Channel has opted to engage in this kind of censorship. Although torture has been discussed in the largely hypothetical terms of the “ticking bomb” scenario (and lets be realistic, how often does that scenario actually come into play?) the documentary examines a case where torture was actually applied to an innocent individual. The fact that the Discovery Channel refuses to allow this film to be aired indicates something seriously wrong with their moral sense and obfuscates the debate. In order to come to grips with the issue of torture we need to discuss actual case where torture has been applied not half-baked scenarios created to mislead and create false moral equivalences (I should point out that I am against the idea of torturing folks). What makes this even more shocking is that Investigate Discovery just showed up on my satellite line up. Well, that and the fact that Ted Koppel is now the managing editor over at the Discovery. I guess this was a question to hard hitting for him to ask. Call me disappointed in the unDiscovery Channel.
Update 1: An alert reader asked where I got the quote about the Discovery Channel from. I do apologize, as I forgot to link to the source of that quote, which can be found here. Good catch Joseph!

China Bans Horror Movies

Although I don’t write about it much, I am a fan of the old black and white horror movies. I don’t much care for the modern gorefests. At any rate, I was surprised to see this story on Reuters. Apparently, China has banned horror movies:

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Gorillas, the Missionary Position, and Oral Sex

To steal a line from my blog buddy Duane, I find this Science Daily article abnormally interesting. Fair warning, this post is probably not work or child safe.

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