Read - Want to Read: How to Argue with a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say about Human Difference by Adam Rutherford (Experiment)
Race is not a biological reality.
Racism thrives on our not knowing this.
Racist pseudoscience has become so commonplace that it can be hard to spot. But its toxic effects on society are plain to see--feeding nationalism, fueling hatred, endangering lives, and corroding our discourse on everything from sports to intelligence. Even well-intentioned people repeat stereotypes based on "science," because cutting-edge genetics are hard to grasp--and all too easy to distort. Paradoxically, these misconceptions are multiplying even as scientists make unprecedented discoveries in human genetics--findings that, when accurately understood, are powerful evidence against racism. We've never had clearer answers about who we are and where we come from, but this knowledge is sorely needed in our casual conversations about race.
How to Argue With a Racist emphatically dismantles outdated notions of race by illuminating what modern genetics actually can and can't tell us about human difference. We now know that the racial categories still dividing us do not align with observable genetic differences. In fact, our differences are so minute that, most of all, they serve as evidence of our shared humanity.
Bookmarked Tg-list -- transgenic-list (

The transgenic-list (tg-l) was created by Peter Sobieszczuk in 1996, to serve the global research community specializing in genetic modifications of laboratory animals. Since then, three academic institutions have hosted the tg-l: the IGBMC in Strasbourg, France; the University of Manchester, UK; and the Imperial College in London, UK. In 2011, the transgenic-list was moved to the ISTT web server. The ISTT would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Peter and his assistants in establishing the list for the benefit of everyone who has been a part of this list. The tg-l has proven to be a valuable source of knowledge and advice, helping many newcomers to the field of animal transgenesis, and facilitating the exchange of protocols and experiences.

The ISTT is most proud to host the tg-l for the benefit of the entire community of scientists, technicians, students and all others, interested in animal transgenesis.

Tg-l members are active researchers at all levels, from graduate students to full professors, and the technicians, managers, and directors who operate transgenic core facilities.

The tg-l is public (subject to email address verification), unmoderated (messages will not be altered by the list administrator) and closed (only subscribers may post messages). The tg-l currently has about 1800 subscribers from all over the world.

To see the collection of prior postings to the list, visit the Tg-list Archives. (The current archive is only available to the list members.)

📑 Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) | Stephen Wolfram Blog

Annotated Solomon Golomb (1932–2016) by Stephen Wolfram (

As it happens, he’d already done some work on coding theory—in the area of biology. The digital nature of DNA had been discovered by Jim Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, but it wasn’t yet clear just how sequences of the four possible base pairs encoded the 20 amino acids. In 1956, Max Delbrück—Jim Watson’s former postdoc advisor at Caltech—asked around at JPL if anyone could figure it out. Sol and two colleagues analyzed an idea of Francis Crick’s and came up with “comma-free codes” in which overlapping triples of base pairs could encode amino acids. The analysis showed that exactly 20 amino acids could be encoded this way. It seemed like an amazing explanation of what was seen—but unfortunately it isn’t how biology actually works (biology uses a more straightforward encoding, where some of the 64 possible triples just don’t represent anything).  

I recall talking to Sol about this very thing when I sat in on a course he taught at USC on combinatorics. He gave me his paper on it and a few related issues as I was very interested at the time about the applications of information theory and biology.

I’m glad I managed to sit in on the class and still have the audio recordings and notes. While I can’t say that Newton taught me calculus, I can say I learned combinatorics from Golomb.

👓 Engineering bioinformatics in seconds, not hours | Ryan Barrett

Read Engineering bioinformatics in seconds, not hours by Ryan BarrettRyan Barrett (

It was winter 2014. Pharrell had just dropped Happy, the Rosetta probe landed on a comet, President Obama was opening diplomatic relations with Cuba

…and here at Color, the bioinformatics team had a problem. Our pipeline — the data processing system that crunches raw DNA data from our lab into the variants we report to patients — was slow. 12 to 24 hours slow.

This wasn’t a problem in and of itself — bioinformatics pipelines routinely run for hours or even days — but it was a royal pain for development. We’d write new pipeline code, start it running, go home, and return the next morning to find it had crashed halfway through because we’d missed a semicolon. Argh. Or worse, since we hadn’t launched yet, our live pipeline would hit similar bugs in production R&D samples, which would delay them until we could debug, test, and deploy the fix. No good.

👓 Twins get some 'mystifying' results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test | CBC

Read Twins get some 'mystifying' results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test (CBC)
Last spring, Marketplace host Charlsie Agro and her identical twin sister, Carly, bought DNA ancestry kits from five of the most popular companies in the industry. Find out why some of the results they received left a team of computational biologists at Yale University baffled.
I would expect some reasonable variation between companies, but far, far less within a particular company. In all though, the article does a good job of explaining some of the basics of what is going on here.

🎧 “The Daily”: The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies from New York Times

A scientist in China claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited human beings. How should the U.S. respond?

👓 I’ve always known that my family was Irish descended in some way. | Charlie Owen

Read a post by Charlie OwenCharlie Owen (
I've always known that my family was Irish descended in some way. We're too prone to doughiness and large multi-generational households to be anything but that. What with Brexit looking to be an absolute shitshow and me wanting to, you know, STILL BE EUROPEAN, I thought it'd be worth looking into my...

👓 Mainstream Media Is Blowing Its Coverage Of Elizabeth Warren's DNA Test | HuffPost

Read Mainstream Media Is Blowing Its Coverage Of Elizabeth Warren's DNA Test (HuffPost)
Tribal leaders and Native people say the senator is an ally — and they support her look at her ancestry. But hardly anyone asked them.

👓 James Watson Won’t Stop Talking About Race | New York Times

Read James Watson Won’t Stop Talking About Race (
The Nobel-winning biologist has drawn global criticism with unfounded pronouncements on genetics, race and intelligence. He still thinks he’s right, a new documentary finds.

👓 The year ahead: genetics | Economist Espresso

Read The year ahead: genetics (Economist Espresso)
Soon two American biotechnology firms hope to offer couples undertaking in vitro fertilisation the chance to screen embryos before they are implanted. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is already widely used to test for chromosomal abnormalities or specific genetic disorders. But MyOme and Genomic Prediction plan to reconstruct the whole sequence of an embryo’s genome using just a few cells from a biopsy and genetic sequences of both parents. They can then, in theory, calculate the risk the embryo will develop a wide range of different diseases in later life—including ailments that are extraordinarily complicated, involving thousands of genetic variants. By selecting between different embryos, those undergoing IVF can optimise the health of their progeny in a way that those who conceive naturally cannot. That raises ethical concerns. Although both firms will screen embryos for disease risk only, there is no reason why traits such as height or intelligence might not be selected in the same way.

👓 What really happened when two mathematicians tried to publish a paper on gender differences? The tale of the emails | Retraction Watch

Read What really happened when two mathematicians tried to publish a paper on gender differences? The tale of the emails (Retraction Watch)
Retraction Watch readers may be familiar with the story of a paper about gender differences by two mathematicians. Last month, in Weekend Reads, we highlighted an account of that story, which appea…
This article and the related links cover a lot of the questions I had when I read the original in Quillette the other day and only wish I’d had the time to follow up on as a result. Now to go on and read all the associated links and emails….

👓 Using Medieval DNA to track the barbarian spread into Italy | Ars Technica

Read Using Medieval DNA to track the barbarian spread into Italy (Ars Technica)
Cemeteries from the Longobard spread into Italy tell tales of migration and mixing.

👓 Statement by Amie Wilkinson addressing unfounded allegations. | Amie Wilkinson

Read Statement by Amie Wilkinson addressing unfounded allegations. by Amie Wilkinson (
This statement addresses some unfounded allegations about my personal involvement with the publishing of Ted Hill's preprint "An evolutionary theory for the variability hypothesis" (and the earlier version of this paper co-authored with Sergei Tabachnikov). As a number of erroneous statements have been made, I think it's important to state formally what transpired and my beliefs overall about academic freedom and integrity. I first saw the publicly-available paper of Hill and Tabachnikov on 9/6/17, listed to appear in The Mathematical Intelligencer. While the original link has been taken down, the version of the paper that was publicly available on the arxiv at that time is here. I sent an email, on 9/7/17, to the Editor-in-Chief of The Mathematical Intelligencer, about the paper of Hill and Tabachnikov. In it, I criticized the scientific merits of the paper and the decision to accept it for publication, but I never made the suggestion that the decision to publish it be reversed. Instead, I suggested that the journal publish a response rebuttal article by experts in the field to accompany the article. One day later, on 9/8/17, the editor wrote to me that she had decided not to publish the paper. I had no involvement in any editorial decisions concerning Hill's revised version of this paper in The New York Journal of Mathematics. Any indications or commentary otherwise are completely unfounded. I would like to make clear my own views on academic freedom and the integrity of the editorial process. I believe that discussion of scientific merits of research should never be stifled. This is consistent with my original suggestion to bring in outside experts to rebut the Hill-Tabachnikov paper. Invoking purely mathematical arguments to explain scientific phenomena without serious engagement with science and data is an offense against both mathematics and science.
A response to an article I read the other day in Quillette.