NYT: Language Gene Traced to Emergence of Humans

Scientist dates a speech-enabling gene to about 100,000 years ago; evidence of culture starts about 50,000 years ago.
And here’s a link to a Nature story last fall about the discovery of the the FOXP2 gene, which enables fine control over the muscles of the mouth and throat.
As always, the science is more subtle than the reports in the popular press. There’s a lot of ongoing research and debate about how and how much the gene influences the ability to speak and understand language.

A good sign

On Monday, Declan McCullough wrote a defeatist essay in CNET encouraging technologists not to bother opposing bad laws, and to stay home and write clever code.
In the ensuing Slashdot discussion, the audience roundly disagreed with Declan and argued that geeks need to be political to keep and take back freedoms lost to bad laws like the DMCA.
The tone of of the SlashDot discussion was very different from the libertarian dogma several years ago and the level of knowledge about the political process seemed a lot higher.
It took 10 years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962 for Congress to ban DDT. Time will tell if enough people will speak up in our time.