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Kaj Sotala
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> In a hospital west of Shanghai, Wu Shixiu since March has been trying to treat cancer patients using a promising new gene-editing tool.

> U.S. scientists helped devise the tool, known as Crispr-Cas9, which has captured global attention since a 2012 report said it can be used to edit DNA. Doctors haven’t been allowed to use it in human trials in America. That isn’t the case for Dr. Wu and others in China.

> In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans. His hospital’s review board took just an afternoon to sign off on his trial. He didn’t need national regulators’ approval and has few reporting requirements.

> Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.

> In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin. The University of Pennsylvania has spent nearly two years addressing federal and other requirements, including numerous safety checks designed to minimize risks to patients. While Penn hasn’t received final federal clearance to proceed, “we hope to get clearance soon,” a Penn spokeswoman said.
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Recent human evolution: European racial tendency to migraines due to a cold adaptation? "Human local adaptation of the TRPM8 cold receptor along a latitudinal cline", Key et al 2018 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/01/19/251033

"Ambient temperature is a critical environmental factor for all living organisms. It was likely an important selective force as modern humans recently colonized temperate and cold Eurasian environments. Nevertheless, as of yet we have limited evidence of local adaptation to ambient temperature in populations from those environments. To shed light on this question, we exploit the fact that humans are a cosmopolitan species that inhabits territories under a wide range of temperatures. Focusing on cold perception, which is central to thermoregulation and survival in cold environments, we show evidence of recent local adaptation on TRPM8. This gene encodes for a cation channel that is, to date, the only temperature receptor known to mediate an endogenous response to moderate cold. The upstream variant rs10166942 shows extreme population differentiation, with frequencies that range from 5% in Nigeria to 88% in Finland (placing this SNP in the 0.02% tail of the FST empirical distribution). When all populations are jointly analysed, allele frequencies correlate with latitude and temperature beyond what can be explained by shared ancestry and population substructure. Using a Bayesian approach, we infer that the allele originated and evolved neutrally in Africa, while positive selection raised its frequency to different degrees in Eurasian populations, resulting in allele frequencies that follow a latitudinal cline. We infer strong positive selection, in agreement with ancient DNA showing high frequency of the allele in Europe 3,000 to 8,000 years ago. rs10166942 is important phenotypically because its ancestral allele is protective of migraine. This debilitating disorder varies in prevalence across human populations, with highest prevalence in individuals of European descent, precisely the population with the highest frequency of rs10166942 derived allele. We thus hypothesize that local adaptation on previously neutral standing variation may have contributed to the genetic differences that exist in the prevalence of migraine among human populations today."
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Monument in the memory of the Finnish Civil War. The Finnish text translated into English reads "This statue was erected in memory of those defenders of democracy who fought in the class war and, becoming the victims to the revenge of the White victors were executed or starved to death; by the association of former Red guards and other like-minded workers in 1951."
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Fingers crossed:

> On January 1, 2019, every book, film, and song published in 1923 will fall out of copyright protection—something that hasn't happened in 40 years. At least, that's what will happen if Congress doesn't retroactively change copyright law to prevent it—as Congress has done two previous times.

> Until the 1970s, copyright terms only lasted for 56 years. But Congress retroactively extended the term of older works to 75 years in 1976. Then on October 27, 1998—just weeks before works from 1923 were scheduled to fall into the public domain—President Bill Clinton signed legislation retroactively extending the term of older works to 95 years, locking up works published in 1923 or later for another 20 years.

> Will Congress do the same thing again this year? To find out, we talked to groups on both sides of the nation's copyright debate—to digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge and to industry groups like the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. To our surprise, there seemed to be universal agreement that another copyright extension was unlikely to be on the agenda this year. [...]

> Presumably, many of the MPAA's members would gladly take a longer copyright term if they could get it. For example, Disney's copyright for the first Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie, is scheduled to expire in 2024. But the political environment has shifted so much since 1998 that major copyright holders may not even try to extend copyright terms before they start to expire again.
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Post with various excerpts from a book by a former nuclear war planner. I can't really even be surprised anymore by the safeguards for preventing unauthorized nuclear launches being... lacking:

> To prevent unauthorized action by a single duty officer with access to Execute codes in any particular command post, there was a universal and supposedly ironclad rule that at least two such officers must be on duty at all times, day and night, and they must both be involved in, and agree on, the authentication of an order to execute nuclear war plans from a higher authority and on their decision to relay this order to subordinate commands… One way or another, each post purported to have arrangements so that one officer by himself could neither authenticate orders received nor send out authenticated Execute commands.

> But in practice, not. As various duty officers explained to me, oftentimes only one man was on duty in the office. The personnel requirements for having two qualified officers sitting around in every such station at literally every moment of the night were just too stringent to be met. Duty rosters did provide for it, but not for backups when one officer “had” to be elsewhere—to get some food or for a medical emergency, his own or, on some bases, his wife’s. Did that mean that all subordinate commands would be paralyzed, unable to receive authenticated Execute orders, if the one remaining duty officer received what appeared to be an order to commence nuclear operations during that interval?

> That couldn’t be permitted, in the eyes of the officers assigned to this duty, each of whom had faced up to the practical possibility of this situation. So each of them had provided for it “unofficially,” in his own mind or usually by agreement with his fellow duty officers. Each, in reality, had the combinations to both safes, after all, or some arrangement for acquiring them. If there was only one safe, each officer would, in reality, know the full combination to it. One officer would hold both envelopes when the other had to be away. Where there were more elaborate safeguards, the officers had always spent some of their idle hours late at night figuring out how to circumvent them, “if necessary.” They had always succeeded in doing so. I found this in every post I visited.
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> I think for mental illness in particular, most good advice comes from a place of empathy. If you know the brainspace someone is in, you can recognize which things are going to be actively unhelpful and which might help. even if all you can do is say “yep, that thing! that thing sucks!” that’s often really valuable by itself.

> And mental illness brainstates are weird, and complicated, and hard to understand if you’ve never experienced them. “I just don’t see any point in being alive” is very hard to make sense of if you haven’t been depressed. (Some people are unusually good at it, though I expect many of them have actually themselves experienced undiagnosed depression too.)

> I think the thing people are trying to get at with the ‘neurotypical Karen’ complaint is advice that doesn’t seem to come from a place of empathy, advice generated by someone who fundamentally doesn’t get what is going on in your head and which is accordingly telling you to pull strings that aren’t even there or strings you’ve been pointlessly tugging on for years.

> But of course, there aren’t just ‘healthy brains’ and ‘broken brains’, and different broken brains can have different strings. And so even when mentally ill people are talking to each other, they’re often going to be giving advice that lands flat because it’s referencing a different kind of problem.

> And - mentally ill people need to talk to each other. It’s where practically all the good advice is. The more there is out there, the better we can do. [...] Obviously, don’t give specific strangers unsolicited mental health advice. But sharing your tactics, your ideas, the strings you’ve pulled successfully, the strings that you can’t figure out how to deal with? That’s important. We need it.
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!!! for someone like me, who often finds that the most interesting articles and books are ones that showcase entirely different mindsets and ways of thinking, this kind of an approach to studying history sounds like the most fascinating way possible. After all, many of the ways in which people of the past thought about the world would be really alien to modern people, so what could be more fascinating than a systematic effort to uncover those alien mindsets?

> The history of mentalities is a calque of the French term histoire des mentalités, which might also be translated as "history of attitudes", "mindsets" or "world-views". [...] The history of mentalities focuses on the wider mindsets of past cultural and social groups. [...]The term is] used to describe works of history aimed at describing and analyzing the ways in which people of a given time period thought about, interacted with, and classified the world around them. [...]

> Similar techniques can be seen in Robert Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre, which uses microhistory to establish the mentalities of groups at different social levels of French society. Darnton concerns himself greatly with the ways in which people viewed the world around them. [...] Darnton devotes a chapter to an analysis of a bourgeoisie's description of his city, in an effort to determine how an individual in a given social situation would interpret and make sense of the world around them. Darnton uses this description to demonstrate that the ways in which events might be portrayed might be completely unsupported by the ways in which individuals of the time might have interpreted those events.
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> The Russian Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones – the first time such a coordinated assault has been reported in a military action. [...]

> Six of the assault force drones were intercepted by Russian electronic warfare units, with three of the UAVs being brought to land outside the base, while the remaining three exploded on contact with the ground.

> Another seven drones were "eliminated" by Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missiles fired by the Russians, with the bases reporting no casualties or damage, the statement explains. [...]

> While photographs of the improvised UAVs used in the assault make the drones look clunky and strung together, the Russians' analysis reveals they were armed with explosives and launched from a site more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) distant from their targets, navigating the trek via GPS and altitude-control sensors.

> The Ministry says a technical examination indicates these drones would have an effective attacking range of about 100 kilometres (62 miles) – which is pretty terrifying – and means that in the new era of UAV warfare, locations that once may have seemed immune to attack, are in fact exposed.
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