Quitting the internet won’t solve its problems

Everything you hate about online culture is created by other people

❝ The internet, with its constant presence, social media envy and endless fakery, is not some parasite that showed up in the 1990s, enslaved you by bodysnatching your brain and turned you into an eternally screen-clicking bundle of tendonitis and ADHD. (If it had, that would be technological determinism.) Rather, the internet came about as a result of our very human urge to communicate and socialize, and is a reflection of naturally-occurring phenomena…

In other words, the idea for the basic functionality of modern digital communication was inspired by the human brain.

❝ Shortly after the turn of this century, that development came full circle: As the internet grew into the biggest communication infrastructure in history, network scientists and sociologists made new discoveries about how we interact with each other, drawing new types of network maps…

Networks are natural to humans — powerful, efficient mechanisms for growth and dissemination of information — so we built the internet. But we create networks even if what is disseminated or grown is malignant, which is key.

Hardware designed to threaten life and liberty is pretty much restricted to military flavors of anti-human behavior. They are inanimate objects even with AI. Humans purpose devices. At least for the foreseeable future.

Polar Bear origins trace all the way back to an Irish Momma Bear

All living polar bears can trace their genetic lineage back to a single, female ancestor — a brown bear from Ireland, who lived around 20,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Thanks to climate change in the North Atlantic ice sheets around the time of the last ice age, the two types of bears would have periodically overlapped. In Ireland, it appears that they interbred, leading to a hybridization event that plopped maternal DNA from brown bears into polar bears.

This event probably led to a fixation of the modern polar bear’s mitochondrial DNA, where a drastic reduction in genetic variation meant the entire gene pool was flooded with just one form of a particular gene, from just one female bear.

Researchers can figure this out thanks to that oh-so helpful-mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This is a maternal part of the genome that is — unlike most of the nuclear DNA — passed down exclusively from the mother to her offspring. The sperm’s tiny cache of mtDNA, on the other hand, is destroyed upon fertilization.

This allows us to connect the maternal lines and trace back a species’ genetic lineage through the mother’s line. We’ve done it with humans too, and found that all living humans descend from one woman in Africa — we call her Mitochondrial Eve… Cripes. Here we go upsetting the bible-thumpers, again

In all, 242 brown bear and polar bear mitochondrial lineages throughout the last 120,000 years and across multiple geographic range were sampled. They found that the fixation of the mitochondrial genome likely occurred during or just before the peak of the last ice age, possibly as early as 50,000 years ago, and near present-day Ireland.

Those Irish brown bears are, of course, now extinct. They died out roughly 9,000 years ago.

The geneticist Mark Thomas says this contradicts the vulgate idea that hybridisations diminish the strength and capabilities of the hybridized species. He sees potential similarities to this in humans.

The same processes have resulted in long-term benefits in botany. I don’t see any special reason for denying the potential in chordate meat.

Asteroid Lutetia – up close and personal

Asteroid Lutetia has been revealed as a battered world of many craters. ESA’s Rosetta mission has returned the first close-up images of the asteroid showing it is most probably a primitive survivor from the violent birth of the Solar System.

The flyby was a spectacular success with Rosetta performing faultlessly…

The images show that Lutetia is heavily cratered, having suffered many impacts during its 4.5 billion years of existence. As Rosetta drew close, a giant bowl-shaped depression stretching across much of the asteroid rotated into view. The images confirm that Lutetia is an elongated body, with its longest side around 130km.

“I think this is a very old object. Tonight we have seen a remnant of the Solar System’s creation,” says Holger Sierks, OSIRIS principal investigator, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Lindau, Germany.

Rosetta raced past the asteroid at 15 km/s completing the flyby in just a minute. But the cameras and other instruments had been working for hours and in some cases days beforehand, and will continue afterwards. Shortly after closest approach, Rosetta began transmitting data to Earth for processing…

The flyby marks the attainment of one of Rosetta’s main scientific objectives. The spacecraft will now continue to a 2014 rendezvous with its primary target, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It will then accompany the comet for months, from near the orbit of Jupiter down to its closest approach to the Sun. In November 2014, Rosetta will release Philae to land on the comet nucleus.

RTFA. Lots of great photos.

As the ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood, said – “It has been a great day for exploration, a great day for European science.”

Extending, expanding knowledge of our solar system is a natural goal for inquiring scientific minds. Every step forward opens more avenues for study and learning, understanding the context of our evolution.

What would Jesus brew?

Shortly after the doors opened on the 27th Great American Beer Festival, a crowd congregated at the booth offering Judgement Day Ale and other pours from The Lost Abbey of San Marcos, California, where the tap handle is a Celtic cross and the legacy of beer-brewing monks endures.

Standing under a banner promising “Inspired beers for Saints and Sinners Alike,” proprietor and former altar boy Tomme Arthur had a confession: He’s using God to sell some beer.

“It’s the oldest story ever told — the struggle between good and evil,” said Arthur, 35, a product of Catholic schools in his native San Diego. “There is a battle being waged between those who make good beer and those who make evil beer.”

Without question, unholy excess is in evidence anytime 18,000 gallons of alcohol is served to 46,000 people over three days. Yet perhaps surprisingly, God could be found at last week’s Great American Beer Festival — in the crassly commercial, in homage to religion’s long history in brewing, in needling faiths that turn a suspect eye on drinking, and (if the prophet of home-brewing is to be believed) at the bottom of every glass.

While alcohol and religion don’t always mix, no less a figure than Benjamin Franklin once said: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Lots of anecdotal evidence in the article – supporting the conclusion that abstinence remains essentially within the domain of sectarians, hypocrites and the narrow-minded. Or it’s just good for a laugh.