Articles to 2019-09-05

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First the link to this week's complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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So according to Maggert and Cappucci et al. accelerated mutation under stress is an old hat and has been known for ages. Why then has it taken me a long time and a lot of reading between the lines to find that out? (lists of 2012-09-27, 2012-10-26, 2013-03-25, 2015-09-03, 2015-09-10, 2018-12-23). Mutation as a purely random process has been taught and upheld as a dogma. Scally & Durbin (list of 2012-10-14) even used the low rate found in current sheltered and pampered humans to revise the time line of human evolution. As I said on 2018-12-23, biologists seem so terrified by the spectre of Lamarck that they refuse to see, much less teach, the obvious.

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When I left nuclear engineering in 1990, inherently safe go-away-reactor concepts were already far advanced. By now we could be exporting mass produced and proven units with negligible failure probabilities. Instead we stopped all development and influence and left it to those with completely different mindsets and social background. The violent anarchistic criminals and terrorists behind that breakdown are now retired and drawing exceptional – both in international as in historic terms – pensions while the working class policemen they tried to murder and forced into early disability leave had to make do with the minimum income. They leave the fruits of their crimes to their – and our – children and grandchildren to deal with. I was part of the last sizeable generation of nuclear students in the second half of the eighties, a significant period according to Wu et al.'s figure 1.

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Li et al. report on not just a piece of early art but the very earliest so far, far away from Africa and associated with an earlier human species than sapiens. A finding need not be wrong just because it's unexpected, but we do require some proof. Granted, the photographs in figure 2 look striking, which is no doubt why they were included here. We're given neither a scale nor an indication just where they were taken from. The two pieces of supposed intentional artwork are both on bone splinters about the size of a postage stamp. Both were old and somewhat weathered at the time. For me a far more plausible and more parsimonious explanation would be testing those pieces for hardness and usability as a tool or equally plausible testing the sharpness of the blade. Anything more requires more proof than is offered here.

Who knows, perhaps China will still turn out the cradle of all civilization. It hasn't yet and this find doesn't change that.

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As we know since Orwell – the idea is much older, but it was he who mainly popularised it – words determine the way we think. So it's with dismay that I see Bergstrom & Bak-Coleman and Stewart et al. constantly calling Facebook a social network. Facebook is a centralised monopoly, caging and confining its users it couldn't be more different to a network, and there is nothing social about it at all. I should probably be more concerned about their result, but try as I might I can't imagine how anybody would voluntarily deliver himself up into that Gulag. From observation I know that people do, but it's beyond my powers of imagination to comprehend the consequences.

On a different topic I have always been aware of the sectarian close mindedness and disregard for facts and issues of the left. Stewart et al.'s figure 7 and supplementary figure 17 demonstrate the far greater open mindedness of the right and their focus on issues, not sides. There is a recent tendency for them to become more partisan and power oriented too, if to a lesser degree still. So who is it that's responsible for the current rise of polarization? You guess.

In both those articles and especially the supplementary movie the pervasive influence exerted by influencing network perception is made frighteningly clear. Trump's twits are on everybody's mind but no one seems to be aware of the power wielded by Zuckerberg, the grey shadow in the background.

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