Murder in the Nest

Things are a bit cuckoo in this part of birdland:

Cuckoos live what seem to be lives full of deception and murder. As adults, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. (Why raise your own chick, when you can dupe others into doing the work for you?)
Cuckoos typically hatch only one offspring at a time. And when they do, the interlopers promptly push the other eggs out of the nest, killing the host birds’ true offspring.
For the newborn cuckoo, masquerading as multiple chicks can be difficult, especially when the lone, giant nestling replaces the usual clamoring brood.

Do any human analogues to this behavior come to mind?

Catching up on Genetic Dispositions

Well, by mistake I decided to read Kristoff’s column from yesterday:

Instead, modern science is turning up a possible reason why the religious right is flourishing and secular liberals aren’t: instinct. It turns out that our DNA may predispose humans toward religious faith.
Via previous education I knew just where to look for the antidote to this stuff and Myers was P.Z. on the spot:
It�s nothing but modern molecular preformationism. Palmistry for the genome. We�ve been fighting against this simplistic notion of the whole of the organism prefigured in a plan or in toto in the embryo since Socrates, and it keeps coming back. We�ve moved from imagining a little homunculus lurking in the sperm to one hiding in the genome. It�s just not there. You can�t point to a spot on a chromosome and say, �there�s the little guy�s finger!�, nor can you point to a spot and say, �there�s his fondness for football!�.
Kristof, for instance, points to a particular gene as the source of piety. Piffle. Here�s his shining locus of sacredness, VMAT2:
It won’t hurt you to read the rest of the post yourself…
Over at Crooked Timber John Quiggen provides additional curative resources by working through some statistical, logical, and definitional failings in Kristoff’s piece and more generally with pop evolutionary psychology.
As usual the comment threads to both posts provided plenty of stimuli for both my chuckle gene and my thinking gene.

Some Good Advice!

From Leonard Pitts:

I won’t lie: It’s not easy. People–black and white–will always have expectations, and when you refuse to live by those expectations, they’ll call you names, they’ll shut you out. It’s not easy, but I guarantee that if you stay with it, you’ll find that it is worthwhile. I guess what I’m telling you is this: Please have the guts to be who you are. And to dream brobdingnagian dreams.

Read the rest. (Free registration required or try Bug Me Not)

Let the Kid Out Regularly

PZ Meyers posts his 3rd grade class picture:

And for you younger readers, I have to tell you�that buck-toothed kid with the crewcut in the middle row is still here. All of us greying geezers still have a little boy or girl somewhere inside us, and there are still days when we�re a little dismayed that we�re not going to have recess after lunch, or that we don�t get to go home to mom and dad anymore. Youth is never really gone, it just gets buried under layers of new stuff as time goes by.
You will feel more comfortable if you remove some of those layers from time to time….even if a tear or two flows.