Medieval Irish warlord boasts three million descendants

I meant to blog this last week, so I am just sticking it in the archives.

Up to three million men around the world could be descended from a prolific medieval Irish king, according to a new genetic study.

It suggests that the 5th-century warlord known as “Niall of the Nine Hostages” may be the ancestor of about one in 12 Irishmen, say researchers at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Niall established a dynasty of powerful chieftains that dominated the island for six centuries.

In a study of the Y chromosome – which is only passed down through the male line – scientists found a hotspot in northwest Ireland where 21.5% carry Niall’s genetic fingerprint, says Brian McEvoy, one of the team at Trinity. This was the main powerbase of the Ui Neills, which literally translated means “descendants of Niall”.

McEvoy says the Y chromosome appeared to trace back to one person.

“There are certain surnames that seem to have come from Ui Neill. We studied if there was any association between those surnames and the genetic profile. It is his (Niall’s) family.”

Google defies US over search data

This is indeed a curious turn of events.

The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. Google was asked for information on the types of query submitted over a week, and the websites included in its index. The department wants the data to try to show in court it has the right approach in enforcing an online pornography law. It says the order will not violate personal privacy, but Google says it is too broad and threatens trade secrets.

Yahoo and MSN meanwhile, either admitted or tacitly admitted complying. What is Google protecting? Is it trade secrets?

Update: Dan Drezner adds his weighty two cents to the debate.

Staff rebellion at the World Bank?

A good friend of the staff here at Gavin’s Blog, Steve Clemons, has a story on an array of departures at the World Bank, since neo-conservative/neo-idealist Paul Wolfowitz became head of the organisation. The money quote:

In recent months, picking up steam in recent weeks, there has been a massive exodus of top talent from the World Bank. According to reports, the senior Ethics Officer at the Bank has departed. Also on the exit roster are the Vice President for East Asia & Pacific, the Chief Legal Counsel, the Bank’s top Managing Director, the Director of Institutional Integrity (which monitors internal and external corruption), the Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, and the head of ISG (Information Solutions Group).

According to one senior insider who feels as if Wolfowitz is gut-punching the most talented teams at the bank and indicated that morale is plummeting, “Wolfowitz just does not talk to his Vice Presidents. He speaks to a few close advisors — Kevin Kellems, Robin Cleveland, Karl Jackson, some others — but a lot of very good people are leaving.”

What Wolfowitz has done that has started a serious wave of negative sentiment against him among his ranks is that he has appointed Kevin Kellems — Vice President Cheney’s former Communications Director and Spokesman — as a “director” of the bank, which formally reports to a Vice President of the Bank — while at the same time making him Senior Advisor to Wolfowitz.

In other words, Wolfowitz is forcing a political appointment at the “director level” of the bank — which is never done. “Director” positions are fairly low in the World Bank bureaucracy and are filled by a competitive process and the merits of one’s work — not political imposition.

But read the whole post. Is Wolfowitz taking lessons from Bolton?

802.11n agreed

Finally. I remember writing about 802.11n proposals way back in 2001. At the time 802.11b was dominant, and the debate was who would win in the 802.11g versus 802.11a debate. It was always going to be ‘g’, working on a different frequency than 2.4Ghz was never going to be feasible long term – with requirements for backwards compatibility it seems that 802.11a has fallen by the wayside.

I did use some pre-N wireless in Washington, and they seem to have a huge range and high bandwidth – now all we need is people to share their broadband and we will all be happy.

The proposed IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard will enable high-performance, next-generation wireless local area networking (WLAN) products. The draft supports speeds of up to 600 Mbps, a significant leap over today’s Wi-Fi networks which promise speeds of up to 108Mbps, and will enable wireless systems to deliver greater range.