Links for August 17th

  • Physorg: Human precursors went to sea, team says
    130,000 year-old stone tools have been found on Crete. What with being an island, that means that hominids that predate homo sapiens managed to cross open water. That was an ability that researchers had long chalked up to being one of those things that makes us special, but it looks like that's not so. If this turns out to be true, it'll really shake up our collective understanding of early hominid history.
  • New York Times: Crashing the Tea Party
    A Notre Dame political scientist and a Harvard professor of public policy (Robert Putnam, no less) have interviewed thousands of people to understand who comprises the Tea Party and what Americans think of them. The short version is that your average Tea Party member is a white, Republican, Christian, social conservative who doesn't like blacks or immigrants, and places a higher value on establishing an American theocracy than on reducing the size of government. Their values are almost entirely out of step with most Americans’. It is perhaps suitable, then, that public opinion of the Tea Party is awful. They're less popular than Republicans, Democrats, atheists, and—ironically—Muslims. On a related note, remember when the Tea Party pretended to be "nonpartisan"?
  • Library of Congress: Lincoln and Johnson Poster
    What strikes me about this 1864 Lincoln/Johnson campaign poster is that as much ink is used naming the electors as the candidates. Then, as now, we don't actually vote for president but, instead, we vote for a slate of electors who will represent our state in the Electoral College; it is those 538 people who actually vote for the president. These days, that's information that would surprise many people to learn, whereas in 1864, apparently it was just an accepted part of the electoral process.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

9 replies on “Links for August 17th”

  1. Its amazing that the Electoral College has worked all these years. I’m amazed no one has bothered to “game” the system to change the outcome of the election.

  2. The Tea Party is non-partisan. They’re fiscal conservatives and, as liberals love to point out, the GOP hasn’t been particularly fiscally conservative.

    That’s just it, Hans—this survey data shows that neither of those things are actually true.

  3. I couldn’t really help but notice that all of those Teapers who ran in Federal elections last year ran as Republicans, Hans, that they have only primaried other Republicans and not Democrats, and that every single one who won ended up caucusing with the Republicans.

    Even if you reject the survey’s results, I have to ask: non-parti-what, now?

  4. Hominids on Crete: As I recall from reading “The Naked Ape”….which dates to the ’60s I believe…there was a theory even then that proto-humans had gone through an aqautic phase.

  5. National Geographic did a story last year on the evolution of whales – from land mammal that returned back to the sea. Pretty interesting. (The interactive link has a neat timeline).

    But back to Crete: Dug a little bit and National Geographic has a story on that too. Interesting, but I don’t know. Another piece that has more detail on the dating. Looks like the team has an excavation planned for this year. Curious what they found.

  6. Navigation to Crete from mainland Greece is line-of-sight and with the prevailing northerly summer trade winds an ape on a log would inevitably drift upon this large island. If the log had branches to catch the breeze, it would be a run to Crete.

  7. The Physorg article has some minor but sort of annoying inaccuracies. “The tools the team found are so old that they predate the human species”: not quite. There were anatomically modern humans 130K years ago, they just haven’t been found outside of Africa. The researcher “found evidence that our ancestors were crossing open water at least 130,000 years ago. That’s more than 100,000 years earlier than scientists had previously thought.” Not exactly: the human colonists of Australia were seafarers who landed somewhere between 40K and 60K years ago.

    Still the main point, that an early hominid other than Homo sapiens may have been capable of open-sea travel, is pretty impressive.

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