Was anyone else as dismayed about the supposed choice for surgeon general as I was?
Biologist, continually a power house in the quality of job rankings, have come in as the fourth best job to have, according to the comprehensive rankings at Career Cast.  Rugbyologist is not officially listed, but its rating (Pi/6, since six slices is the actual number any delicious pie should be divided into) is used as an upper bound to ensure the linearity of all other job quality ratings.

Apparently, Toronto is going to be graced with some 3000 educational signs on Toronto Transit Commission vehicles.  The signs are both easy on the eyes and educational.  Check out CoolCosmos for more examples.


And while I am on the topic of supernovae, astronomers at the Chandra X-Ray observatory have just released a time lag video of the continued expansion of Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant.  You can read all about it from Scientific Blogging's News Staff.
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the branch of the NIH which funds the majority of academic genome research in the US, is trying to lay out its next big road map, and personalized medicine looms large. The NHGRI wants to use its hefty funding power to ensure that personalized medicine is based on solid research as it become more commercially available.

The institute has offered several white papers, including one on "Applying Genomics to Clinical Problems-Diagnostics, Preventative Medicine, Pharmacogenomics".

Some of the key questions are:

1. "What do new genetically-based diagnostic or risk assessment strategies add to the existing medical armamentarium?"
John Hawks discusses how messy the abuse of genetic testing results could get:

Imagine a custody battle, in which the father hires a private investigator to get a mother's genome. With two variants that yield a 15 percent higher risk of schizophrenia, will the mother's genetic risk be held against her? Or think of corporate boards, looking for a way to dismiss a CEO without paying that golden parachute. Could a genetic test result showing a higher risk for early Alzheimer's give them a reason to invoke a "health" clause in the contract?

 A new book, "Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children" by Philip and Alice Shabecoff is praised for its competent journalism in January 5, 2009 issue of Chemical and Engineering News. The review article, Protecting Children From Toxic Chemicals,  transmits the book's message that toxic chemicals and heavy metals in the environment are responsible for much of the increase in chronic disease and disability in children.[1]



What?  Republicans getting a mention on the eve of a scientific Golden Age due to the presence of Democrats in both Congress and the Oval Office, a time when the heavens themselves shall burst forth with funding to drive out the stench of stem cell restrictions and global warming doubts and heralding in a spirit of tolerance and equality for everyone except oil company employees and vaccination deniers?    Have I lost my senses?  

Patience, my friends, as always there is a reason.   And, as always, it will take me 1,000 words to get to it.
Sound familiar?



If you find yourself saying, "No matter how hard I try and try, I can't make my kid do X ..." or "No matter how hard I try, I can't make my kid understand Y ..." it's usually a clear sign that expectation and enforcing that expectation are a significant part of the problem. Your expectation may in fact accurately address the mean—that is, you may expect a behavior of your 9-year-old that most 9-year-olds can do—but remember the range of human variability and try to structure antecedents (the things you do to encourage a behavior to occur) with room for that variability.




This is of course harder to do when you're surrounded by parents whose kids nicely hit or exceed that behavioral mean.
In an article for the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Herbert Gintis provides a model that shows that:

“if an internal norm is fitness
enhancing, then for plausible patterns of socialization, the allele for


Bacteria often provide vivid examples of
how powerful the forces of evolution can be.  In keeping with that,
Hershberg, et al., in a paper published in PLoS, show that evolutionary forces may increase the number of drug-resistent strains of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (MTB).


They attribute the increase of these strains to both human
demographic conditions (global travel, urbanization, population growth)
and genetic drift.