Possible Neanderthal cave paintings have been discovered.

It’s been an open question whether one of the things separating Neanderthals from us is that we created art, and they did not. Now cave paintings have been found in Spain, and charcoal found by the paintings has been carbon dated to around 43,000 years ago. Neanderthals are thought to have been the sole humanoids …

I’m speaking at tomorrow’s Jefferson Jackson event in Richmond.

I don’t normally mention my public speaking engagements, but tomorrow I’ve got one that’s free, open to the public, and liable to be of general interest. Tomorrow is the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner, the party’s big annual event. As a part of the day’s activities, I’m speaking on a panel with former …

A private open data reference for medications.

I’m impressed by Drugcite, a non-governmental website that presents data on prescription drugs using open data sources, displaying it in a simple, easy-to-understand fashion. Today I really needed to research Coumadin, and Drugcite provided one-stop-shopping for that. It’s an open data site in the style of Richmond Sunlight, but rather than focusing on government (as …

The AP demonstrates how to point out an untruth.

I have recently been lamenting the media’s habit of allowing subjects’ false statements to stand, without challenge. This morning I spotted a great example of the right way to handle this, in a story about Mitt Romney from the AP’s Kasie Hunt: “‘I will never apologize for America,’ Romney says often—suggesting that Obama has done …

The USDA has mapped out food deserts.

Using public records of grocery store locations and vehicle ownership, the USDA has mapped the locations of “food deserts,” regions where people lack access to decent food. Such areas have been popular to talk about and speculate about, but this is the first effort that I’m aware of to actually locate and measure them. →

Records about those pardoned Mississippi killers have gone missing.

Earlier this month, in the last few days of his term, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour pardoned five men, including four convicted murderers, who worked in his mansion. The AP FOIAed the records about their pardons and—darnedest thing—there aren’t any. The attorney general says that they’re nowhere to be found. This is headed to court in …

Disqus research finds that “pseudonyms drive communities.”

Discussion hosting service Disqus has crunched the numbers on their enormous database of comments and found that people writing under pseudonyms (as opposed to anonymously or under their real name) contribute substantially more comments than others, and those comments are rated more highly than others. People writing under a real name are a close second, …