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October 28, 2005

October 27, 2005

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    There are several reasons why it's amazing that scientists have completed the map of human genetic variation.

    Firstly, there's the science part. This not only a window into how and why human variety exists the way we see it today, but also human history. As these scientists examine populations from around the globe, the migration patterns of early humans become clearer than ever. They have traced the origin of the species to Africa, using evidence still found in modern African populations' DNA as compared that of populations of other geographic areas.

    Then, there's the part where it's a key to fighting disease:

    Although any two unrelated people are the same at about 99.9% of their DNA sequences, the remaining 0.1% is important because it contains the genetic variants that influence how people differ in their risk of disease or their response to drugs. Discovering the DNA sequence variants that contribute to common disease risk offers one of the best opportunities for understanding the complex causes of disease in humans. -- hapmap.org

    Lastly, and most heartwarmingly, there's the cooperation part. This project is a collaboration among scientists from Japan, the UK, Canada, China, the US and Nigeria, which is why the site is viewable in English, Japanese, Chinese and Yoruba. The map is free. You can download it from the web site. This is working together, folks. This is the kind of sharing unhindered by patents and profits, and funded by the government. Now, if only we could expand these humanitarian efforts and concept of sharing into the arena of, say, the Oil for Food Program.

    Full Article: New DNA Map Will Help Find Bad Genes
    (Via Slashdot)

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 1:35 PM

October 11, 2005

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    "what looked like a chance to talk up new programs is fast becoming a scramble to save the old ones." &mdashLiberal Hopes Ebb in Post-Storm Poverty Debate - New York Times

    The New York Times is running an article that talks about the political corpse humping taking place in the wake of Katrina. It seems that after wiping away those crocodile tears many politicians are trying to push forward their own self-serving agendas.

    While most humans are decrying the negligence and lack of attention to the nation's poor (and notoriously apathetic voters) some politicians are seeing the devastation caused by Katrina as an opportunity to wipe them out entirely.

    President Bush seems to be in some kind of twisted fit, signing break after break for reconstruction companies at the expense of the local workers, while the rest of the pack says "What Me Worry?" and guard their top tier tax cuts like they were the last thing keeping America from going ass first into the hands of the terrorists and gays.

    The whole thing is a mess. It's political opportunism at its best and diabolical maneuvering at its worst. What a way to turn a national disaster into a national travesty.

    Full Article: Liberal Hopes Ebb in Post-Storm Poverty Debate - New York Times
    (Via New York Times)

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 8:32 PM

October 7, 2005

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    "The early drafts of the book Of Pandas and People, were used as evidence to link the book to creationism, which it is illegal to teach in government-funded US schools." &mdashBook thrown at proponents of Intelligent Design

    For those not in the know, here's the short and dirty of the Intelligent Design case going on in Dover right now.

    Some parents are suing their school board for mandatory inclusion of Intelligent Design in their school's science curriculum. The text book which is offered as a source for all things Intelligent Design is called Of Pandas and People.

    Here's where things get interesting in court. Intelligent Design proponents insist their ideas are not Creationism and they they simply offer an alternative explanation beyond Darwin's theory of evolution. We saw the following in court recently.

    Forrest compared early drafts of Of Pandas and People to a later 1987 copy, and showed how in several instances the word “creationism” had been replaced by “intelligent design”, and “creationist” simply replaced by “intelligent design proponent”.

    So here is a brief timeline for those that are still confused:

    • 1987— The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools cannot teach creationism in science classes.
    • 1987 (few days later) — The book titled Biology and Creation changes its name to Of Pandas and People and also changes all references to Creationism to Intelligent Design.

    Come on...I mean, guys...

    Full Article: New Scientist Breaking News - Book thrown at proponents of Intelligent Design
    (Via New Scientist)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 9:38 PM

October 3, 2005

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    From the waxed handlebars of the British armed forces to soul chips of 90s urban hipsters, facial hair has always been fun. But this! This is just above and beyond! It may be no surprise to learn that Germany is the dominant power in the championships, with at least 85 contestants entered in this year's championship. Considering that there are 6 categories in the moustache class alone, you can see where 85 entries can really be a bonus.

    At the last world championships, held in Carson City, Nevada, in 2003, Germany took home a total of 32 trophies to the USA’s nine. Among the winners in Carson City was overall champion Karl-Heinz Hille, a native Berliner and member of the host Berlin Beard Club. -- The Beard Team USA Blog

    What may, perhaps, be surprising is that the First Berlin Beard Club - the generous hosts of this year's championship - was founded as recently as 1996. Although the beard itself has a long and bushy history, perhaps it was only fairly recently that beard owners began to feel under-celebrated, and decided to fight back with the First Berlin Beard Club. Well done, gentlemen!

    Full Article: World Beard and Moustache Championships
    (Via KALIBER10000)

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 3:18 PM