February 2007
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Day February 4, 2007

Notes on a cold Superbowl Sunday

I’m about to start watching the game, but I like to let Tivo get a little ahead so I can zip through the slow parts of most games (the TV pace and commentary virtually guarantee that the game is much slower than it needs to be).  So I’m sitting here in the office getting a few things done, writing up some notes from last week’s talks by Robert Boyd at the UW.  And just a minute ago, tDsc_0043_croppedwo relatively young bald eagles swooped past the window, one chasing the other, as they dived and twirled their way north along the shore of Rocky Bay.  I’m not quite sure where the nest is, but they like to stop on a dead tree snag just off my property line but towering over the deck, so I see quite a few eagles here at the house.  (note: the picture here isn’t from today — it’s far cloudier and grey today — but it is the snag and one of my raptor neighbors).

Boyd’s talks were excellent, discussing evolutionary models for the association of "group markers" which non-randomly assort with traits which represent behavioral norms, and provide a way to make in-group, out-group identifications in situations where the underlying norm may be observationally transparent (e.g., attitude, religious belief, moral rule, etc).  The analysis followed McElreath et al.’s 2003 article in Current Anthropology, and when the model is overlaid on spatially distributed populations, it demonstrates that within-group covariance between the marker trait and the norm trait is strongest at boundaries, not in group cores.  This is true even in the simplest spatial case of a 1-D lattice or ring.  This makes sense because similarity between any two random individuals is lowest at group boundaries, and highest in group cores, where two randomly chosen interaction partners have the highest chance of being similar in their expression of a norm, so the selective advantage of the marker/norm covariance is lower. 

While down in Seattle I moved into the room I’m renting near the University, complete with a nice 3-layer futon from Soaring Heart (man, those 3 layer systems are comfortable…might switch my traditional mattress at home for the 3-layer in the guest room….), internet service from Clearwire (which works surprisingly well once you futz around with antenna positioning a bit, and a couple of items from my storage locker.  I still need to sort through the locker (which has enough stuff to furnish a 1 bedroom apt), take the desk and dresser to the new house, and haul the rest of this crap up to the island since I don’t need to furnish a kitchen, etc.  But that’s work for a future trip.