Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Considering the Practicalities of Time Travel


Click on the image to expand
The act of traveling either back or prematurely forward in time has often been a popular concept in science fiction narratives, whether in the plots of motion pictures or books. The very idea of exploring  "what could have been" or "what could be" is something that has always fascinated humanity, regardless of the cultural backdrop. It is therefore no wonder time travel has become perhaps the most well-known hypothetical scenario of either revisiting time or "skipping" time on Earth to another time frame.

The concept has literally given story writers and movie producers plenty of material to work with; such science fiction motion pictures like Star Trek, Super Man, Back to the Future, The Twelve Monkeys, and the like come to mind. Why not? There is almost no limit to what can be imagined, as a theme around time travel, whether it has to do with visiting new worlds in our universe, someone accidentally waking up in very different time from his/her own, or someone yearning to change a situation to his/her advantage in their present time, with the aid of changing the course of history by altering some event or another, and the list can just go on.

In all seriousness though, just how practical is the concept of managing the course of history with the manipulation of time?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Haplogroup Assignment; Old Habits that Die Hard


It has become a common theme in DNA research papers dealing with population genetics, particularly those that are either published in the "west" or else rely heavily on references to previous publications by "western" research teams, to dichotomize human phylogeny neatly into two main types: African and non-African. As a result, a good amount of the readership of these papers have also become accustomed to treating human phylogeny accordingly. No doubt that the reactionary segment of that readership have applied such a phylogenetic arrangement synonymously with "races" of humanity.

It's one thing to assign human phylogeny into two main types, but it's another, in terms of how these assignments take form. One would be hard-pressed not to come across a single example, whereby lineage that is given an "L" designation in mictochondrial phylogeny, is automatically treated as "African", while the two main offshoots of the L3 clade are taken for granted as "non-African". Such arrangements tacitly or by design, insinuate non-overlapping phylogeny between the so-named two main groups. The discussion section will deal with this kind of arrangement of human phylogeny further, applying specific examples from published material.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Relationship between Nagadan and "Lower Nubian" Burials


This entry piggybacks on a matter that came up in a 2009 blog entry on this site, titled "What the Different Styles of Crowns could mean in the developments leading up to Kmt [Nwt] State Formation". This matter concerned the possible relationship between the Ta-Seti (particularly in Qustul) royalty and those of Nagada. In particular, the potential of Ta-Seti royalty having "surrogate" or "proxy" ruling concern(s) in complexes up north, such as those associated with the Nagada, was raised on the grounds of certain characteristic regalia of the Dynastic Egyptian complex appearing to show their precedences in the content of the Qustul royal cemetery. Examples of such regalia, are the White Crown and the Falcon, which has intimately been associated with Horus on Dynastic Egyptian wall reliefs. The idea of a relationship whereby royalty from Nagada and Ta-Seti sought to manage international relations, for example to avoid costly confrontations to either party and strengthen political and trade relationships, through marital unions between members of two polities, had not been ruled out either. In the aforementioned 2009 entry, a study by Prowse and Lovell [1] was called upon. This study is hereby recalled, and will be discussed in more detail.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Ethiopian Genetic Diversity—Really—Reveals!


Image Caption: A rendition of an Ethiopian male, featuring what can be considered an average look among the major Cushitic and Semitic speaking populations of Ethiopia. Click on the image to expand!

A recent publication by Pagani & co. (2012), under the heading "Ethiopian Genetic Diversity Reveals Linguistic Stratification and Complex Influences on the Ethiopian Gene Pool", revisits the recurring issue of Ethiopian DNA profiles. In fact, one of the participants of this research, Toomas Kivisild in particular, was one of the authors of one of the last major studies on Ethiopian mtDNA, which was also a subject of blog posting on this site [see: Following Trails of the Cro-Magnon - I and Following Trails of the Cro-Magnon - II, for examples]. Some interesting findings surfaced in that study, as it relates to peculiarities about Ethiopian mtDNA gene pool; these same characteristics reappear in this latest study, as well shall notice in following segments of this entry.

As the authors start of their notes with laying out the goals of their research, they point out the supposed shortcomings of previous publications, particulary as it concerns Ethiopian DNA. In doing so, the authors lament on the supposed infrequency of DNA studies—involving African samples—that focus on Ethiopians in contrast to African samples from central and western Africa. This is right after the authors tell the reader that, because Ethiopia has proven to be relatively rich in human paleontological record, and in their words, "because of Ethiopia’s geographical position between Africa and Eurasia, its capital, Addis Ababa, is often used in genetic studies as a proxy embarkation point for modern human range expansions."

This smacks of double speak, when one considers that the subject of "human range expansions" figures quite a lot in population genetics research undertaken by 'western' research teams, and these seldom avoid including eastern Africa, the African Horn in particular, because its often implied rep of being a "cradle" to modern humanity. On top of this, Ethiopians have often served as "props" by Eurocentric ideologues, both in amateur and academic circles, to effect some ideologically-expedient wedge or another between continental Africans, whereby they feel at liberty to isolate what they either presume to be the source of "their kind" (Europeans) from the "others", who are generally lumped together and dismissed as being "inferior" and/or "undesirable", or use the target group—like Ethiopians—to explain away, and importantly, diminish natural African diversity as that made possible primarily because of foreign contribution.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Knowledgebase Tool Kit: Ways to Test Just How Secular One's Nation is!

Image Caption: Coin with "In God We Trust". Click on the image for a higher resolution version


Many nations, especially those in the so-called "west", have societies that routinely pride themselves with the self-promoting perception that their respective country is the epitome example of secular bustling "democracy" and "civil-liberty friendly" social setup that is supposedly found nowhere else...so go the trumpets of patriotism. However, if one wants to get a truly sober assessment of one's own country, of which one is determined to be a citizen, then there are clear ways of testing the veracity of perception commonly pressed forward by the media and ruling circles of one's own nationality; let's take self-anointment proclamations of secularism for instance, and discuss that.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Update on Investigation into the "Mysterious" EpiPaleolithic Maghrebi Remains!

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This entry is supposed to serve as an update and add-on to a blog entry that was first published here back in May 5th, 2010, under the heading, An Investigation into the "Mysterious" Mesolithic Maghrebi populations. The arguments made there—in the main, are still quite sound, but over the years, some DNA-assignment shuffling within the reconstructed human mtDNA phylogenetic network had taken place. This sort of thing happens quite a bit in the field of molecular genetics, usually in the form of either changing the phylogenetic location of a newly identified clade or a preexisting one, and/or renaming entire clades with new naming schemes, since researchers tend to see information about larger phenomena in the form of fragments. As such, sometimes previous information (source material), especially on newly identified clades, becomes obscure or rarer. To address a situation such as this, in the few occasions where they may have occurred, this entry has revisited elements of the aforementioned entry, modify as necessary, or simply add to information previously posted.