Jake

Important If True 16: The Pizza, the Bee, and the Trash Can

27 posts in this topic

Important If True 16:

Important If True 16


The Pizza, the Bee, and the Trash Can
We cannot sanction your buffoonery. But we can, and will, personally hand-deliver your questions to Lord Hoistmas. Questions like: What is the true secret of the real 90s? How do you cleverly cover up an regrettable tattoo? And would you eat the best pizza you've ever had in your life if it came with bees?

Send us email at questions@importantiftrue.com. If you enjoyed this and would like to subscribe to an ad-free feed, please consider supporting Idle Thumbs by backing our Patreon.

Discussed: The Real Ghostbusters, good web addresses, Amazon bookstores, Boss Coffee, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, trash can robots, Sony Bravia ad, Google Home/Blade Runner 2049 mashup, techno-seniors, tattoos, a history of the Peeing Calvin, crisper, CRISPR, Lord Hoistmas, pizza, bees

Chris' Endorsement: Shoe care products: saddle soap for cleaning, Saphir Renovateur for treating and polishing (usage tips)

Nick's Endorsement: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (Amazon, YouTube)

Jake's Endorsement: Learning about the interoperability of the multimedia devices in your home

Sponsored By: Quip electric toothbrushes, Casper mattresses

 

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quick post to second Nick's Garth Marenghi's Darkplace recommendation - it made me laugh so hard I cried. I think it also may be on SeeSo if you have an account because you watched the MBMBaM show but didn't cancel your sub.

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Chris,

With love, if you were worried about readers' characterizing you as Old Man Remo either seriously or as "a bit," it did not begin with the IIT recommendations segment.

 

Also: there are whole Reddits and blogs and other junk for Millenials etc. about How To Old Man. Shoe care, dressing properly, performing ablutions the old-fashioned way – this community of Young Old Mans is much larger than you think, evidently. My gateway was Jesse Thorn's Put This On blog. See also: ubiquitous podcast ads for shaving services and services to help you dress properly.

 

There is much pleasure to be had from owning nice, well-made things and both using and maintaining them properly. It's nice when something feels reliable and stable in a time where every app, OS, or service update introduces fresh new stresses.

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I don't experience the same primal fear that the Thumbs do when it comes to potentially dangerous scientific advances and it's a very odd thing to experience second-hand.

 

Also pertaining to that, waiting for whatever genetic modification nonsense is being proposed as a way to cure cancer (probably incredibly speculatively) may not be necessary by then. Immunotherapy has proven effective in treating metastatic skin cancer via the body's immune system where conventional treatments likely would have failed. To the extent of my knowledge, there are no inherent restrictions to it that would prevent similar treatments being used on other varieties of cancer in the future. The only problem right now is that it makes a small number of patients' brains rupture.

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Regarding refrigerator crisper drawers:

The purpose of the drawer is to control humidity.  Some drawers come with an adjustable slider or vent to allow for high or low humidity, while non-adjustable drawers are usually for high humidity.  The majority of humidity comes from the fruit/vegetable itself (humidity being removed by the air conditioning process that keeps the fridge cool), so high humidity drawers are sealed to prevent this moisture from being lost.  The reason you want a high humidity drawer is to retain that moisture as some vegetables will lose moisture quickly and start to wilt.  A low humidity drawer is better suited for some fruits and vegetables that release ethylene as they ripen, which can make other ethylene sensitive produce ripen faster.

 

Regarding peeing Calvin:

Bill Watterson (the creator of Cavin and Hobbes) was famous for never licensing his strip, so by default almost all merchandise of Calvin and Hobbes are bootlegs.  The peeing image is most likely ripping off the first panel of this strip

calvinwaterballoon.jpg

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On my way home from work today I was walking down Mission street to the train and saw a man remote and a strange white box robot he was remote controlling crossing the street at 17th, and I thought of this podcast. Then on BART i started listening to this episode and hear the discussion of how San Francisco now just has a bunch of weird robots. That's the whole story I just loved the synchronicity

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5 hours ago, Kyir said:

I don't experience the same primal fear that the Thumbs do when it comes to potentially dangerous scientific advances and it's a very odd thing to experience second-hand.

 

Also pertaining to that, waiting for whatever genetic modification nonsense is being proposed as a way to cure cancer (probably incredibly speculatively) may not be necessary by then. Immunotherapy has proven effective in treating metastatic skin cancer via the body's immune system where conventional treatments likely would have failed. To the extent of my knowledge, there are no inherent restrictions to it that would prevent similar treatments being used on other varieties of cancer in the future. The only problem right now is that it makes a small number of patients' brains rupture.

I actually like most of the weird science stuff we talk about in the show, but it's such good fodder to get ridiculous about. 

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5 hours ago, Kyir said:

I don't experience the same primal fear that the Thumbs do when it comes to potentially dangerous scientific advances and it's a very odd thing to experience second-hand.

 

Also pertaining to that, waiting for whatever genetic modification nonsense is being proposed as a way to cure cancer (probably incredibly speculatively) may not be necessary by then. Immunotherapy has proven effective in treating metastatic skin cancer via the body's immune system where conventional treatments likely would have failed. To the extent of my knowledge, there are no inherent restrictions to it that would prevent similar treatments being used on other varieties of cancer in the future. The only problem right now is that it makes a small number of patients' brains rupture.

 

The two bolded statements book-ending this post made me laugh a lot.

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I retract the first statement. I am surprisingly terrified when it comes to the thought of my brain rupturing.

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Generally I think the doomsday stuff is just silly fun. Bit legitimately with CRISPR, I don't understand how scientists can so confidently assert that no-one would do anything bad with it, in a world where Trump got elected.

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7 hours ago, SuperBiasedMan said:

Generally I think the doomsday stuff is just silly fun. Bit legitimately with CRISPR, I don't understand how scientists can so confidently assert that no-one would do anything bad with it, in a world where Trump got elected.

 

We exist in a world where funding for the sciences (and the arts and humanities, for that matter) depends on getting rich, bored laypeople (or, worse, bored bureaucrats) excited about your research, so I think a lot of scientists and academics get stuck in a permanent "Think of all the awesome things that this could mean" mode.

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As a cancer researcher reading the papers about using CRISPR to treat cancer, and as a microbiologist knowing the origin of CRISPR (it's originally an immune system developed by bacteria to fight off viruses - the scientific community modified it into a genetic engineering tool), I enjoyed the discussion about CRISPR. I was going to suggest the video Nick watched before he said he watched it.

 

 

As for the ethical implications, scientists have already discussed it back in the 1970s when crude genetic manipulation first became possible at the 1975 Asilomar Conference where the guidelines for ethical genetic engineering were laid. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asilomar_Conference_on_Recombinant_DNA

 

Back then, we had tools that were far more inefficient but everyone saw the implications and dangers. The press reported on it as if we had a tool like CRISPR back then.

 

I can get deep into this but in summary, the scientific community is still improving the CRISPR-type tools to get more precise and efficient. Our main targets will initially be replacing single genes that cause congenital genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. CRISPR genetic therapy will eventually be put next to vaccines as a cure for human miseries. CRISPR is starting to be put to use to cure cancer but it's still at the earliest stages of testing; it's more complicated to treat because the underlying causes of cancer are complicated. Like the video above says, we're currently using the tool to figure out the mechanisms of the cell and how they influence each other. Hair and eye changes are...possible, but still very early stages and would require billions/trillions of funding for experimentation. It'll happen over time; maybe when you're all grandfathers reluctant to get out of your self-driving app cars to update your mechano-organic neural interfaces.

 

If you want to freak out though, look up "Gene Drives" and "Mosquitoes". (Literally a way to use CRISPR to sterilize an entire species of mosquitoes, that actually doesn't work as well in practice because natural selection breeds resistance.)

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/12/14/504732533/to-fight-malaria-scientists-try-genetic-engineering-to-wipe-out-mosquitoes

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32 minutes ago, Gormongous said:

 

We exist in a world where funding for the sciences (and the arts and humanities, for that matter) depends on getting rich, bored laypeople (or, worse, bored bureaucrats) excited about your research, so I think a lot of scientists and academics get stuck in a permanent "Think of all the awesome things that this could mean" mode.

 

This. 100%. When we write grant applications we have to always include lay summaries of why the average person should care about this research enough to fund it so you have to list the long-term implications of the work. It's not wrong, it just may be 5, 8, 12, 25 years into the future.

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8 hours ago, SuperBiasedMan said:

Generally I think the doomsday stuff is just silly fun. Bit legitimately with CRISPR, I don't understand how scientists can so confidently assert that no-one would do anything bad with it, in a world where Trump got elected.

 

It comes down to, are people like Trump willing to fund long-term research to make the things that would do bad things? The answer is almost always no. As proof I present his proposed budget that slashes federal research funding at the knees and would destroy the research university system in the United States.

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Ah! Scooped on the first CRISPR post. Oh well, sounds like Doc Randal's Science bona fides are beefy-er than mine anyhow. I have but a lowly BSc but one that specialized in molecular genetics none the less. So whenever the topic comes up it catches my interest.

As already mentioned various systems for gene editing have been in use since the 1970ies. Many of them more difficult to work with than CRISPR Cas 9 and far less precise. On top of this CRSPR is proving to work (with some tinkering of course) in a wide range of species (even cross Kingdoms) whereas previous and other current systems often only work in a cluster of related species.
My personal favorite is the Gene Gun.

Its more a delivery method than a gene engineering method unto itself.


The perception that Scientists don't think about ethical ramifications and the trope of the mad Scientist actually drives me crazy. I can't handle certain pieces of media because of it. I know it is blaspheme but Jurassic Park is hard for me because it plays so hard into this trope but then again we have people wanting to de-exstinct the mammoth. Majority of the Scientists do consider the ethical ramifications of their discovery as shown in the video above.

I think the part that Nick noted as concerning with the expert is when he talks about engineering for traits like height or hair colour not being terribly likely. The reason for this is that any engineering is constrained by the biology. Believe it or not but editing away certain genetic disorders is easier than engineering for intelligence or athleticism or other such things associated with eugenics. Most traits are very complicated and controlled by multiple genes that take cues from environmental factors. Doe that mean some people might not try? Hard to say.

The British Medical Bulletin has a pretty good review of ethical issues related to CRISPR

The National Academy of Sciences just recently released a report concluding for the first time it might be permissible to edit the human germ-line, see here. Not a decision taken lightly but for certain genetic disorders like Huntington's it might be more permissible.

Some Chinese Scientists have already run trails on nonviable human embryos. They weren't terribly successful mind you but they none the less generate data which will allow them to refine it:

Whether or not Trump is willing to fund Science other countries may and will. China most certainly is and has been investing heavily in Science. The Bejing Genomics Institute is one of the biggest genome sequencing centers.

So far no one's mention the patent fight that's happening over CRISPR. Zheng Feng of the Broad institute and Jennifer Douda of Bearkly are currently throwing down in the courts as I type this. Kishore Hari gave a pretty good lay explanation on last week's episode of This is only a Test. Here Skip to 1:03:11.

I finally if you're interested in learning more about genetics and it's dark sibling eugenics I would recommend Siddhartha Mukerjee's book "The Gene" (he is also author of Emperor of all Maladies which is about cancer). He's a oncologist and research Scientist. I'm not all the way through but so far it's good.

If you don't have time for a book or have a titanic reading list he recently did a very interesting interview on Sam Harris's podcast.
MASSIVE CAVEAT (Please read before proceeding)
I am no fan of Sam Harris. Quite frankly I suspect he is of the same intellectual caliber as many of the early eugenicists that are discussed in the actual interview. Intelligent but he can't see the forest for his own ego. For all his grousing about others lacking intellectual honesty I think he lacks it himself (but that's the trouble with that arguement. Infinitely recursive finger pointing). Rarely have I heard him acknowledge how hard Science and the collection of good data is. Yet he beats people over the head with supposedly reliable data sets without acknowledging that they could be flawed or missing something else.
So why would I recommend bothering with an episode of his podcast? Well I think Mr. Harris's academic grade motivated reasoning provides an excellent foil for Siddhartha Mukherjee's cogent, historically informed, and carefully thought through perspective on the topic.

 

If that hasn't discouraged you. The interview can be found here.
Skip to 32:12 for the actual interview.
There's stuff at the top of the show that isn't strictly relevant but might given you the measure of Mr. Harris. The attempted hoaxing of a humanities journal he talks about is a whooooole other weird thing that despite his jubilation has largely backfired on its authors. Not to mention his interview with Charles Murray which he is surprised and indignant over the blow back he's receiving.

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To clarify, my Trump comment was just about people insisting that X could never happen, just because they consider it ludicrous. Yet both Trump and Brexit happened, in spite of the sureness they wouldn't. 

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Also, even with the return of Robot Fear, this is one of the best episodes you guys have done, equal with The Ghost and the Goblin. Chris' effortless Empire Strikes Back reference at the end would seal it even if the rest were a mess. Keep it up!

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Regarding the lumber ads Chris heard on a British politics podcast, they may be using dynamic ad insertion. The one podcast I listen to hosted by BlogTalkRadio frequently has what are essentially local radio ads for my area, presumably based upon my IP address.

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LavishLoach,

 

Great summary of the current state of CRISPR research *molecular geneticist high-five*.  [Edit: Removed a bunch of self-serving commentary]

 

It's easier to fix genetic diseases when the defect is caused by an error in a single gene - science is just scratching the surface on the number of genes necessary to make changes to things like eye/hair color and height. To put that in Thumbs perspective, changing a single gene is like adding a a line of text just before you ship a game; figuring out the genes and the associated regulatory systems you need to change to manipulate height/intelligence is like having to rewrite the game engine code from scratch during crunch time when you didn't write the engine and the team lead tells you 'just figure it out'.

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November 8th is my obvious choice for the 1st annual Hoistmas. (it's not just for american's because the hoisting was a global effort, har har)

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Hm that would put Dishonored Hoistmas awfully close to normal Halloween though, wouldn't it?

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I just looked up the wikipedia for petard and I feel like this is an important bit of etymology:

 

Quote

Pétard comes from the Middle French péter, to break wind, from the root pet, expulsion of intestinal gas, derived from the Latin peditus, past participle of pedere, to break wind. 

 

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As someone who lives in the world of theoretical physics,  the commonplace perception that scientists don't think about any ramifications of their work is not only fair but also terribly accurate, at least of most of the people around me. It's very very easy to become oblivious of potential unforeseen consequences of your work when you're super focused on the details.

 

(edit: I imagine it might be different in biology, where the question of ethics is more present not only in abstract terms but in practical "fill in this form about the ethics of your experiments" terms.)

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i like the bee question because at any given time, it could be your actual situation. The next time any of you opens a box of pizza, you will have no idea whether or not bees are gonna swarm from out of nowhere. 

 

I do like the idea of pizza disappearing from the world just because someone wouldn't deal with a few swarms of bees, though, too.

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