Wednesday assorted links


1. Yeah. The very launch of the experiment was a culmination of sorts. Space travel and even space colonization was considered a pure engineering problem for a long time. People were as a known/fixed/uniform human factor. It became clear, especially with microbiome science, that there was a bigger biological aspect than NASA had anticipated.

I think Elon Musk is still behind the curve. We need a lot more isolated human and isolated community experiments before we send people off to die in a can.

Biosphere II was ahead of the curve, but had bad experimental design. It should have been a steel enclosure deep in a mine shaft, with carefully monitored energy and material exchange. (The greenhouse was leaky and taking different energy (weather and sunlight) inputs every day.)

For those who think that it is "interesting" (as the author of the (profoundly ignorant) piece apparently does) that Kelly's height changed, then the LiveScience article might be intellectually appropriate. Seems to me that they could have done the same thing with any genetically identical mammals. Maybe Cher could volunteer a clone or two. Also seems to me that triplets would be better, and identical quadruplets best. (Two on the ground, two in orbit). There is absolutely no news in the NASA "information" that eyesight (eye geometry), bone structure, and the immune system change in orbit - all of that has been known for a long while now. Hey, one thing I didn't know: Did you know Steve Bannon (yes, him) was involved with Biosphere 2 ? The article is a cesspool of misinformation. By the time anyone is born, they do not have a single, unique sequence of DNA in each of the cell nuclei. Even when we allow for epigenetic modification, each cell division (ie duplication of somatic (not inherited) dna) has about a 20% chance of introducing a (mostly random) change (mutation). So, by the time a person is "full grown" they have (roughly estimated) 40 trillion different dna sequences in their bodies. This may seem large, but the error rate per base-pair is only about 3E-11 per mitosis. Anyway, Scott did not have identical dna to Mark's, heck he doesn't even have "identical" dna to himself! (germ cell mutation rates are about 100 times less).

We did know about spinal expansion, etc., but they are known as problems, independent of this reporting. "a lot of pain"

@Li - did you read the article? I think the astronaut had a twin on earth, that was the baseline. This is another example (one of many) of epigenetic change. The open issue for Neo-Lamarckianism is whether any permanent DNA changes will be transmitted to any offspring.

Bonus trivia: I forwarded this article for TC's consideration. TC is a human synthesizer of all the information in the world, like that guy trying to read every book ever written.

This is why lunar exploration is coming back into favor. While it might be more fuel efficient in terms of sheer delta-V to go direct to Mars, the technology needed to do that, and do it in a way that is reliably enough to be viable long term, rather than a one-off stunt, just isn't there yet. The moon doesn't really have much in the way of resources, but it's a decent technology testbed for at least landers and rovers. It's close to earth, so its possible to do a lot of small, cheap missions and experiment in a way that you can't do so easily on Mars.

Ascension (miniseries) was also underrated.

I don't think we have to lie though. Just raise the status of pioneers who volunteer for the simulation. President Trump can pin Space Force I mean Core insignia on.

You keep using this word: "we." Do you have a mouse in your pocket; or a plastic effigy of Obama?

"We" means people reading this stuff day to day, thinking about how it might play out, and *not* the people who say "omg, this article is too pop, and so I can't think about the underlying issues."

1. The author mistakes the genetic code for epigenetic expression.

Also, SPACE GENES!!!!!!

Too bad "space genes" doesn't mean special abilities, comic book style.

At least it doesn't make you melt like in the 1977 classic.

Yup, and Li's comment above makes a similar observation. Gene expression changes all the time, in response to diet, exercise and whatnot, one doesn't have to be in zero gravity for this to happen.

The article has a link to a NASA article that has just slightly more information, including the interesting tidbit that the astronaut in orbit, Scott Kelly, had longer telomeres in his chromosomes (longer telomeres are associated with longer cell life). But they shortened quickly after he returned to earth.

1) It is utterly impossible to alter 7% of your "genetic code" without dying. What they are probably referring to is DNA methylation and/or gene expression, i.e. epigenetic changes. Interesting result, but very sloppy reporting.

If he were to have kids now, would there be a 7% difference in DNA passed down to kids?

Science reporters don't know what the hell they are doing. Put this guy in the room with the one that says humans and chimpanzees have 95% of DNA in common and watch them come to the conclusion that the astronaut is now an ape.

So the Planet of the Apes was Earth all along...

You've finally made a monkey out of meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Yes, we finally made a monkey out of you.

I love you, Dr. Zaius!

Oh, I love legitimate theatre!

Nah, it was Brazeeeeel.

"Put this guy in the room with the one that says humans and chimpanzees have 95% of DNA in common and watch them come to the conclusion that the astronaut is now an ape."

He's neither. He's a Rocket Maannnn!

Humans are a species of ape.

The article has been corrected: "Editor's Note: This story was corrected to note that Scott Kelly's gene expression changed by 7 percent in space, rather than his genetic code."

4. More drinking, more drugs, more prostitution. New technology often brings stuff many people don't want.

Should be re-read Casey Mulligan's view of free porn and the internet? It appears the opposite happened in reality.

If you're getting more of something, then it seems like technology brings stuff that many people *do* want.

I think Ted meant to say that new technology sometimes brings stuff that some people (say, Ted) don't want other people to want.

I didn't mean to say that. I did say that. But some people just have to "Well, actually,,,"

Well, actually ...oh, nevermind.

I'll drink to that!

Seriously, I (when I was young I didn't) severely limit the alcoholic intake when I need to drive. The increases in PO's dedicated to arresting DWI's is the cause.

Please do not underestimate the long-term negative impacts even of casual abuse of alcohol, drugs, etc.

Would self-driving cars also impact auto insurance underwriting companies. Theoretically, when perfected there will be very few auto collisions.

Yeah, well maybe if you'd never had a drink nor did drugs like me you'd have my job!

Good genes are essential too.

Well, a Bush beat you there POTUS 45 - he had all those youthful indiscretions involving various substances in his 20s and 30s, and was elected the 43rd president.

Of course, he wasn't grabbing anybody by the pussy 15 years ago, when cutting such a manly figure in his flight suit.

I refuse to believe the malicious rumours that you don't do drugs, dude. The only way to develop speech patterns as beautifully incoherent as yours is to heavily abuse very hard drugs for a very long time.

I think Uber already facilitates plenty of binge-drink-then-go-home activities. I'm skeptical that self-driving cars will add a whole lot more to the mix.

Many people do use Uber, but there are still plenty of people who modify intake because they've driven themselves. When all the cars drive themselves — which is obviously a ways off — it won't be an issue.

And you can cut the snide "facilitate binge drinking" tone. A single mixed drink will get a slim woman well over the legal limit. A single generous glass of a high alcohol wine can do it.

Nothing snide about it. I binge-and-uber all the time.

Sorry. The way you phrased it made it sound like you need to be some sort of wildly drunk lush to need a designated driver (whether human or software). Not everyone is like us.

Binge drinking may be unhealthy and unwise, but it is not a synonym for "alcoholism". There's some overlap, but also plenty of occasional bingers who never become alcoholics, and plenty of alcoholics who never binge.

And so have taxis too, by this argument?

The key difference between self driving cars and Taxis/Uber is that self driving cars are cheaper and more convenient. People who might not want to spend 40 dollars round trip to a far away bar might change their minds when they're on an unlimited Waymo plan.

1: Much better to read the actual NASA article:
The linked LiveScience article is not clear and the headline is idiotic. Scott Kelly does not have "different DNA" than his twin.
The only changes in DNA seen were that Scott Kelly's telomeres were longer in space, but this reverted quickly after he came back to Earth.
He had changes in gene expression, some of which reverted back on Earth, but 7% of which seem to be longer lasting.

In other news, reportedly Larry Kudlow is tapped to replace Gary Cohn.

I look forward to Tyler chewing on that one.

The sad thing is that it fits the same old (new since 2017) mold. Sure Kudlow is kinda nutty, but he's not as nutty as Trump, so (all together now) he can be a moderating influence!

Also, don't text and drive. .

Karl Smith does the "all together now" with a straight face.

How about Elizabeth Holmes to replace Ben Carson? She's pale, she's rested, she's ready.

It is not Five-O'clock here (NY). Where you are?

Are you With Her 2020?

Or, Do You Feel the Bern?

Before the multiple strokes; 40 years of hard drinking; and perennially covering for Willie's serial rapes she was the smartest woman on the Plant - BARF.

She's finally completed the (what?) The 56 Theses on why she lost - "Wha' happened?" Corrupt, incompetent (and, Thank God NOT President) Hillary seems ready courageously to take up the aegis. Pocahontas Warren will not take the DNA test. She's self-eliminated.

The SEC (that was asleep at the switch up to 2008) but got its poo-poo in order in time to hit Ms. Holmes for a $500,000 fine.

Gary Cohn's contributions to the 2008 financial catastrophe didn't cost him a cent. But, it cost Goldman Sachs $550 million in legal settlements.

Hey, NJ has another Goldman veteran of the big-government-rigged billionaires' cabal administering the cultural, fiscal coup d' grace.

You get triggered, hun? Connie will keep you safe from that big bad Hitlery!

From 4: "Craig Wolf, the president and chief executive of the wholesalers group. 'When we see a new technology that could improve safety, we want to learn more about it and share our unique perspective.'"

"Unique perspective"? LOL. Get that booze down your gullet drunkie

3. What's new? Democrats have long been decommissioning perfectly good infrastructure for various vacuous social goals:

6. How about a less global, but more nationalistic policy of not allowing foreign nationals to purchase single family homes?

How is this nationalistic? If foreign nationals really are competing with each other to bid up the dollar, then turn around and complete *again* to throw those dollars at (pure! 1960s-vintage!) Americans, why would we stop them? We don't forbid foreign nationals from outbidding Americans on e.g. American-made steel.

Anyway i doubt any real data exists that can show California's housing problem is driven primarily by foreign demand. Migrants from St. Louis looking for work probably have a bigger impact.

Re 3, the Village Voice hasn't exactly been a reputable source for decades and i thought it was out of business. But assuming the story is true, it illustrates the gross incompetence and corruption in the NYC government -- that high level government officials, the Governor and Mayor either didn't know what was going on or lied about it to deceive the taxpayers.See the great NYT article of 12/28/17 and the billions that disappeared in financing the recent extensions to the NYC subway. Hard to understand why the feds are not looking into this one since i bet a lot of US taxpayer money disappeared along with the tax dollars of the saps who finance the NYC bureaucrats.

That's the key question: how reliable is the Village Voice article? Not being an insider, I could imagine that it might be accurate -- it sounds plausible enough -- but I could also imagine it being off the rails so to speak.

Equally difficult, what are the conclusions to draw? Corruption certainly could be going on, with the subway operators lying about the true source of service slowdowns. But it might be ignorance rather than corruption. They had models that predicted a certain amount of slowdown due to the new signals and procedures but the models under-estimated the amount -- if we believe the VV article. Maybe the models were correct and the VV and that intern are incorrectly estimating the causes of the slowdown. (The article makes a good case and offers good evidence, but I'm not ready to say it has correctly evaluated the situation.)


When mainstream media sources report on things I know about, they usually get everything wrong. So maybe they've got it right in this story, but it's also possible the journalist didn't understand what was going on, or got played by his sources, or just left out details to make the story better.

Little known as the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

"Hard to understand why the feds are not looking into this one since i bet a lot of US taxpayer money disappeared ..."

Is it really that hard?

Senator Chuck Schumer doesn't see a problem at all.

#6 Why stop there? Why not have the feds regulate local land use? Or the WTO?

"All politics is local."

The presumption should be that land owners have a presumption that they can subdivide and build and those who want to prevent building have to have a good reason. It's not like the state/feds are dictating a what you do more like protecting a right. People need to live somewhere.

There is no right to subdivide and we have zoning regulations. In addition, building high-density housing imposes external costs.

Building low-density housing imposes external costs. Everything suddenly has to be far away.

We're not the first ones to think of externalities here. Liberuls have come up with all kinds of ways to internalize them with property taxes, impact fees, and value capture schemes. I suspect higher impact fees to mitigate traffic is not what SFH zoning proponents have in mind.

For some people, housing policy is the only place where "externalities!" concerns absolutely dominate individual property rights concerns.

"3. The trains are slower because they slowed the trains down."

There's little profit motive. So, customer satisfaction isn't particularly important and there's no reason to prioritize efficiency. By slowing down the trains and pretending to be in perpetual crisis they can make an ongoing demand for ever increasing budgets.

That is an unintended consequece of trying to make trains run on thyme.

Banned once more. I will never be defeated!

Here is another possibility for why observed sex differences are larger in Western countries. Perhaps, due to evolution, there is some trait where the optimum level is X for women and Y for men, leading to an evolutionarily ideal difference of Y - X = D. Two things affect the difference in expressed traits - call the contribution from genetic differences G, and the contribution from cultural differences C. So when a society is in evolutionary equilibrium, G + C = D. In the past 100 years, Western countries have changed their culture to stop enforcing so many distinctions between men and women. In other words, C has gone down. Evolution still operates, however, and it causes the population to move towards the equilibrium. So when C goes down, G goes up.

In other words, there is an evolutionary advantage, to some degree, in men acting more masculine and women acting more feminine. When society abruptly changes to encourage men to be more feminine and women to be more masculine, that evolutionary advantage doesn't go away. Men who were previously slightly more masculine than the evolutionary optimum, are now right at the optimum, and evolution causes more men like them to exist. Same for women.

Anyway, just a theory that to me is a simpler way to explain the underlying data, than consanguinity.

Maybe Gillette and Maybelline have something to do with it.

Bear in mind that to a considerable extent it is society itself that determines what is masculine and what is feminine. (I'm talking about social conventions here not reproductive behavior) A trivial example being "blue is for boys pink is for girls" which is just a 20th century American innovation, untrue in other eras or cultures. So what happens when society changes the rules is that people aculturated to the old rules are made uneasy and uncertain for a while and this may cause conflict, but eventually a younger generation aculturated to the new rules takes over and everything is fine again.

This is not how evolution works, and is incoherent to boot. What you're suggesting would result in men who were measured to be *less* masculine but who would evolve eventually to be more masculine. So you've got it backwards and it also makes no sense as there haven't been many years for such evolution to take place.

6: Tyler and Alex (and other observers) have offered plenty of good evidence for the inefficiencies as well as inequities that occur when local zoning and land use regulation gets out of control. The current system of politics and regulation and local control does not work in many areas, especially urban and suburban ones with growing populations.

What I haven't seen much of from them is much discussion of what we should do instead. State pre-emption as in this article is one possibility. Houston-style no zoning is another; it has some obvious attractions but on the whole it's not clear to me that the result is a city with greater livability (including housing costs and also congestion as part of the livability equation).

And what about purely private land control? This ranges from homeowners associations to gated communities to housing developments to the whole city of Irvine, CA (which is basically a company town, except instead of a coal mine the company in question is a huge landholder and real estate developer). Should they be permitted to continue to enforce the regulations as they currently do, which results in the same sorts of NIMBY-ism and obstructions to progress?

What I haven’t seen much of from them is much discussion of what we should do instead.

You're not from around here, are you? The answer is, invariably, MOAR immigration.

Are immigrants too poor and soaking us via welfare, or are they too rich and buying all our houses for too long much money?

Given the levels of skepticism in the comments, I think this, from TL;DR is appropriate. Enjoy.

Yeah, I'm a bit surprised that Tyler didn't link to it. For skeptics, snarks, conspiracy theorists, and anti-conspiracy theorists, the Blue Reporter in that video clip could become as classic as the Tank Guy near Tianenmen Square.

The colors don't fit the "red pill vs blue pill" metaphor from _The Matrix_, and the red team in military exercises is the opponent who often uses tactics that are not part of the military's standard manual. OTOH it's fitting that the pro-government lackey reporter is wearing red.

I do wonder what is about to happen to the Blue Reporter's career. The Chinese government is already censoring the video clips, I'd have to think that censoring her entire career will happen next.

Re #1:

Is there some kind of filtering process for journalists that makes sure that nobody with even a good high school level of science knowledge makes it into the profession? This is almost as bad as the average media piece on quantum computing.

A combination of low pay and high harassment might be relevant ...

They've always been dingbats.

But they used to be cynical bastards who would skewer a politician. Now they are mouthpieces for the bureaucracy.

Their math is even worse than their science

2. I don't see that this theory distinguishes physical traits from cognitive and behavioural traits, despite Degen spotting that sex differences in physical traits are not as clearly distinguished in Western societies.

Exactly what I was wondering too.

I remember seeing some alt-right folks linking to pieces and claiming that, physically, men were becoming more feminine and women more masculine, though I didn't check their links carefully. Further, to the west of the Hajnal line were allegedly fewer physical differences between the sexes - e.g., German women would be less feminine than Russian women.

I don't know about the truth of this. While I do think it is pretty much objective truth that female actors today are less feminine than in, say 60's, and male actors less masculine too, but that could be due to the differences in the audience composition dictating the market (e.g., men and women differ in their tastes).

" it is pretty much objective truth that female actors today are less feminine than in, say 60’s, and male actors less masculine too"

Gonna need some data on that assertion without evidence. Or even an anecdote or two. I don't see it. There were manly men back then and still are, there were girly girls back then and there still are. There were femme men back then, and tough broads too.

I am talking about actors, and made it clear that I don't know if all this applies to the general populace. A few years ago I spent time comparing the measurements, and noticed that relatively few "hour glass types" exist among female actors today. For instance, I failed to find even one young actress today whose stats were as feminine as those of Sophia Loren or Jayne Mansfield. You can confirm by looking at the widely available statistics.

I repeat, this is not a comment on the general populace at all.

I also meant actors not regular people. Scarlett Johannsen comes to mind as a modern curvy actress. Megan Fox too. I'm just saying you are using your subjective feelings, and that there's really not much difference in the spectrum of actor types now vs then. That's just my subjective feeling vs yours of course, but if anyone wanted to provide data I bet I'm closer to correct.

Heh, for all your bravado your examples undermine your point: Scarlett Johannson is 36-25-36 and Megan Fox is 34-22-32. Both definitely hour glass type, but less so than the top ones of yesteryears, say Marilyn Monroe with 35-22-35 or Sophia Loren with 38-24-38 or Jayne Mansfield with 40-21-35; or at least for Scarlett, a slightly less-than-top like Ursula Andress - 38-25-35).

The examples you gave are among the best ratios of today, and yet they don't come anywhere near the top 60's actresses, suggesting exceedingly strongly that you are wrong and I am right.

Of course the reason I don't have data is precisely the reason I had to spend some amount of time and work poring through the measurements a while back.

Since you are being bellicose here is a challenge: I gave you measurements of three specific actresses of yesteryears of the form x_1: x_2: x_3 with both x_1/x_2 and x_3/x_2 > 1.5 I challenge you to find *one* modern actress with similar measurements - namely, any y_1 : y_2 : y_3 with y_1/y_2 and y_3/y_2 > 1.5.

#3 Why do people insist on saying stupid thinks like "An MTA spokesperson said safety is the authority’s primary goal". It's utter balls. The goal is (or should be) to move people around. Safety isn't a goal it's a constraint.

It’s utter balls.

You're stepping out of character. If you were a real Brit you'd have said it was bollocks.

3: No, there will be no additional alcoholism for two reasons.

[1] There will still be laws about having at least one sober person in a driverless car, in case of problems with the system, breakdowns, etc.

[2] Driverless cars will never happen. Everybody reading this will be having regular sex with robots long before they ever use a driverless car to get to work. Hell, you will probably be able to take a pill that instantly sobers you up by that time.

So there you have it. Next topic, please.

"Driverless cars will never happen."

Is this trolling? Waymo is already using them commercially.

We could have easily had pilot-free commercial aviation decades ago but still have actual humans at the controls. Supposedly there are robot lawn mowers. I've never seen one in action. Ice rink Zambonis are all operated by people. But driver-less cars in rush hour traffic are just around the corner. Sure thing.

Lots of room between 'just around the corner' and 'never happen'

"Never" is a long time and unless one is talking about changing basic physical laws it should be avoided. However I do agree that sexbots will be a reality well before truly driverless cars (as opposed to cars with an autodrive function) will be.

CLYDE tell me the hook,
How she crept on the page,
Where she went,
Gone from Asunder.

6. An article about housing in coastal California and not a word about water. As in, "lack of fresh water" in areas already pushing conservation to extremes, without reliable or cheap new sources, and sitting on ever lower water tables, fragile water lenses, fault lines, and eroded fire-and-slide-cycle zones.

Comments for this post are closed