Links 12/16/17

Links for you. Science:

Archaeologists Are Only Just Beginning to Reveal the Secrets Hidden in These Ancient Manuscripts
The Impossible Mathematics of the Real World
Farmers Seek to Deploy Powerful Gene Drive
Birth Control Pills Protect Against Cancer, Too
A Nasty, Nafta-Related Surprise: Mexico’s Soaring Obesity


The Destruction of Matt Taibbi: How the alt right and sloppy reporting smeared the ‘Rolling Stone’ journalist (important)
Legal victory stops steal in ‘Bama! Well, almost…
I don’t like the GOP tax bill, but now my life depends on beating it
Ken Friedman, Power Restaurateur, Is Accused of Sexual Harassment
A New African Tradition for Hanukkah
It was pretty clear in the days after Hurricane Maria that people were getting sick and dying more than usual.
North Korea’s prisons are as bad as Nazi camps, says judge who survived Auschwitz
Civil war
Nurture Counts as Much as Nature in Success
All Politics is Local
Amid Puerto Rico Disaster, Hospital Ship Admitted Just 6 Patients a Day
Sandy Hook Anniversary: Time for Insurance So Gun Owners Bear the True Cost of Gun Ownership
European Parliament Report Accuses Wilbur Ross of Insider Trading
Consistency is the …
Josh Mandel keeps taking liberties with the truth about Sherrod Brown
Brown University is doing away with student loans
More American Jobs? Broadcom Deal Might Mean the Opposite
Tawdry Tales Depict a Texas Congressman’s Frat House on the Hill

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Out Of Touch In Blue America

Once Again, Intersectionality Without An Economic Plan Is Politically Harmful

Is The Plural Of Bacteriophage A “Vile”?

Democrats Should Do This For Every Election


Internalizing The Cost Of Roads

Some Thoughts On Alabama

The Fundamentalist Right Never Went Away

Red Leaves

A Potential Problem For The Business Of Genomic Prediction

Posted in Weekly Roundup | Leave a comment

Links 12/15/17

Links for you. Science:

Sending campus exchanges the other way
Promising to ‘Make Our Planet Great Again,’ Macron lures 13 U.S. climate scientists to France
Why Donald Trump wants to go back to the moon
Judge Halts Razing Of Miami Forest Eyed For Walmart Center
Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease


Boston. Racism. Image. Reality.
From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon
Wall Street may decide if Trump will get away with firing Mueller
The Market Shock No One is Ready For
Why A Pill That’s 4 Cents In Tanzania Costs Up To $400 In The U.S.
If police can execute an innocent man on video, none of us are safe
Dozens camp out for shot at free medical, dental care in west Houston
This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work.
Virginia’s $40 Toll Road Better Be the Future of Driving
FCC Must Investigate Fraud Before Voting on Net Neutrality
In Franken’s wake, three senators call on President Trump to resign (Gillibrand has joined in as well)
You’re the Real Job Creator
The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College
Fascism Runs in My American Family
Former Facebook Exec: ‘You Don’t Realize It But You Are Being Programmed’
This Erik Prince Transcript Is Unbelievable
How America Is Breaking Public Education
Girl hits back at Aetna after they deny brain surgery insurance request: ‘Screw you!’
The twisted abortion politics of the Senate race in Alabama
The Nazi-Puncher’s Dilemma

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

A Potential Problem For The Business Of Genomic Prediction

Hopefully, Gwyneth Paltrow won’t get involved in this (boldface mine):

Recently, Vitaliy Husar received results from a DNA screening that changed his life. It wasn’t a gene that suggested a high likelihood of cancer or a shocking revelation about his family tree. It was his diet. It was all wrong.

That was, at least, according to DNA Lifestyle Coach, a startup that offers consumers advice on diet, exercise and other aspects of daily life based on genetics alone. Husar, a 38-year-old telecom salesman, had spent most of his life eating the sort of Eastern European fare typical of his native Ukraine: lots of meat, potatoes, salt and saturated fats. DNA Lifestyle Coach suggested his body might appreciate a more Mediterranean diet instead.

“They show you which genes are linked to what traits, and link you to the research,” Husar told Gizmodo. “There is science behind it.”

DNA Lifestyle Coach isn’t the only company hoping to turn our genetics into a lifestyle product. In the past decade, DNA sequencing has gotten really, really cheap, positioning genetics to become the next big consumer health craze. The sales pitch—a roadmap for life encoded in your very own DNA—can be hard to resist. But scientists are skeptical that we’ve decrypted enough about the human genome to turn strings of As, Ts, Cs and Gs into useful personalized lifestyle advice.

Indeed, that lifestyle advice has a tendency to sound more like it was divined from a health-conscious oracle than from actual science. Take, for instance, DNA Lifestyle Coach’s recommendation that one client “drink 750ml of cloudy apple juice everyday to lose body fat.”

“Millions of people have had genotyping done, but few people have had their whole genome sequenced,” Eric Topol, a geneticist at Scripps in San Diego, told Gizmodo. Most consumer DNA testing companies, like 23andMe, offer genotyping, which examines small snippets of DNA for well-studied variations. Genome sequencing, on the other hand, decodes a person’s entire genetic makeup. In many cases, there just isn’t enough science concerning the genes in question to accurately predict, say, whether you should steer clear of carbs.

We need billions of people to get their genome sequenced to be able to give people information like what kind of diet to follow,” Topol said.

Here’s what I don’t get: any genomic information these companies–note the word companies–acquire will be proprietary. They’re not going to share this information with each other. So unless there’s a ‘big dog’ that has the lion’s share of genomes (we do like mixing our metaphors), how do these companies expect to acquire enough genomes to say anything meaningful? And they won’t have collected the same patient metadata in the same way either?

Though maybe GOOP! should get into this business:

When asked whether it was possible that DNA Lifestyle Coach’s claims might have any validity, Topol laughed.

One day, he said, it’s likely we’ll have some genomic insight into what types of diets are better suited for certain people. But, he added, it’s unlikely that we will ever accurately predict the sort of granular details DNA Lifestyle Coach hopes to, like exactly what SPF of sunscreen you should be using on your skin.

“There are limits,” he said.

Posted in Bidness, Genomics | Leave a comment

Links 12/14/17

Links for you. Science:

Female Scientists Report a Horrifying Culture of Sexual Assault
We Will Not Be Your Disposable Labor: Graduate Student Workers’ Fight Goes Beyond the GOP Assault
Health ministry warns of dangers of antibiotic misuse
How are ctenophores and sponges related to other animals?
H3N2, known to evade vaccine, is predominant flu strain in US


Journalists: Forget the Rust Belt diners. Head for the suburban yoga classes. (my experience in Long Island leads me to agree; I never saw such insane Clinton hatred as I did when I lived in Long Island)
Time to release the internet from the free market – and make it a basic right
The Democratic party is fine: It is the most united American party in modern political history.
Alabama Has The Worst Poverty In The Developed World, U.N. Official Says
In the woods and the shadows, street medicine treats the nation’s homeless
The most chilling question you will hear all day
3 people arrested in firebomb attack on Swedish synagogue (will conservatives say anything about this….)
With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy
Here are 11 of the most punchable faces of 2017
Under Trump, E.P.A. Has Slowed Actions Against Polluters, and Put Limits on Enforcement Officers
College Isn’t a Waste of Time
What Putin Really Wants
6 Ideas to Rein in Silicon Valley, Open Up the Internet, and Make Tech Work for Everyone
He Uses The Telephone. A Lot.
Alex Kozinski
The only way to fix bad high schools is to start over
Yet Another Utility Merger Set to Hurt Us
A Constitutional Crisis Is on the Way

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Red Leaves

Observed on G Street NE, between 5th and 6th, Atlas District:

Red leaves 2017

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The Fundamentalist Right Never Went Away

The ‘religious’ right–which is intertwined with racism–never went away:

In places like Alabama, especially in off-year elections, evangelicals are going to be a huge percentage of the white vote. If there is low turnout in other states, like the Midwest in 2016, then the fundamentalist influence will be greater and can tip a close election.

As I’ve noted before, about one out of three racist whites vote Democratic in spite of and in opposition to their racism (and figuring out why they do so, and then doing that some more is necessary–not every Republican candidate will be a pedophile). About one out of three whites is racist according to the same data. But abortion is a line many won’t cross: does anyone think that one third of staunch abortion opponents will vote Democratic? The abortion issue (and I’m using that as a proxy for ‘cultural’ issues, including anti-LGBTQ bigotry) also gives racists a ‘legitimate’ excuse to indulge their racism.

It’s not like the fundamentalist right suddenly upped and moved to Fundamentalist Land circa 2008…

(and, no, I’m not arguing Democrats should go soft on pro-choice. But we do need to understand motivations and who can’t and can be persuaded.)

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, Resistance Rebellion And Death, Voting | Leave a comment