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Google cars in Austin

October 8, 2015

Between the horrific traffic, nitrous oxide belching Volkswagen diesels, and automated Google cars, I’m not sure how anyone gets around Austin any more.


October 6, 2015

It turns out that guzzling fish oil doesn’t do much for your health. Unless, perhaps, you are Inuit, and carry an adaptive mutation related to its digestion.

Those unfamiliar with biology think of morphology — an animal’s physical structure — is somehow a bigger deal than its physiology, such as its metabolic pathways. Many also view the human body plan as somehow fixed, and free of the kind of variation that occurs in other animals. But it’s a simple mutation that causes some young boys to carry female appearing genitalia until puberty. The BBC is running a program on the guevedoces in Haiti. But this also occurs elsewhere.

History, denial, and a mother’s lament

October 5, 2015

Peter Wood, a historian at Duke, explains how slavery in America became race based. I may have to read the book. This New Republic article explains how that shaped our Constitution, in response to a fairly silly editorial in the New York Times that dismissed the very idea.

A Texas mother is rightly upset that the state-approved history text teaches her child that workers were brought over from Africa for the southern plantations.

Brooks cries over today’s GOP

October 2, 2015

You don’t get the GOP you want. You get the GOP of the old, white, dumb men who applaud at your speeches. I sometimes felt a bit sorry for Barry Goldwater, who seemed a bit puzzled that so many racists and bigots were attracted to his principled ideas. And never managed to figure out why that was.

I don’t feel the least bit sorry for David Brooks, who is puzzled that today’s GOP is resentful and backward looking.

Better brains?

October 1, 2015

Across my radar simultaneously. First, DARPA has made a brain implant to improve the memory of those suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Second, an amuse-bouche on keeping mind of the negative space created by knowledge.

Who you gonna call?

September 30, 2015

CanadianGeeseIf you’re over-run by Canadian geese, as are more and more airports and other urban settings, you want the GooseBuster. It is made from wildlife biologist Philip Whitford’s recording of a goose distress call. As he explains:

The alarm call has a deep evolutionary basis in the behavior of the animals. It goes to the center of their brain and says: ‘Run, fool, run!’

Cancer cells acquire mitochondria from their neighbors

September 28, 2015

This strikes me as a fundamental discovery: some cancer cells can restore their respiration capacity by acquiring mitochondria from their neighbors. We’ll see if there are any practical consequences.

H. influenzae infections in childhood are common in childhood, and can change blood cells in a fashion that predisposes them to leukemia. Which is why the Hib vaccine reduces the risk of leukemia.


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