Gwern.net CSS/JS changes courtesy of Obormot: implemented collapsible sections for hiding digressions/especially large sections, for more readable pages; more varied headers to convey the semantic hierarchy; added use of a lightweight subset of Source Serif Pro, as a better Baskerville font with real small caps; improved font selection on Macs; minimized MathJax library use, for faster loading
“TV or not TV? The Impact of Subtitling on English Skills”, Micola et al 2018 (every Scandinavian I’ve asked agrees that subtitling helped them learn English; it’s also interesting that one’s comfort seems to depend on growing up with it—my normal-hearing siblings grew up with subtitles because of me, and now say they prefer subtitles)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012; bombastic & unconvincing sequel. The only thing more boring than the poorly-reheated French Revolution shtick are the fights between Bane & Batman and the unconvincing twist at the end.)
Newsletter tag: archive of all issues back to 2013 for the gwern.net newsletter (monthly updates, which will include summaries of projects I’ve worked on that month (the same as the changelog), collations of links or discussions from my subreddit, and book/movie reviews.)
This page is a changelog for Gwern.net: a monthly reverse chronological list of recent major writings/changes/additions.
Following my writing can be a little difficult because it is often so incremental. So every month, in addition to my regular /r/Gwern subreddit submissions, I write up reasonably-interesting changes and send it out to the mailing list in addition to a compilation of links & reviews (archives).
A subreddit for posting links of interest and also for announcing updates to gwern.net (which can be used as a RSS feed). Submissions are categorized similar to the monthly newsletter and typically will be collated there.
Deep learning for computer revision relies on large annotated datasets. Classification/categorization has benefited from the creation of ImageNet, which classifies 1m photos into 1000 categories. But classification/categorization is a coarse description of an image which limits application of classifiers, and there is no comparably large dataset of images with many tags or labels which would allow learning and detecting much richer information about images. Such a dataset would ideally be >1m images with at least 10 descriptive tags each which can be publicly distributed to all interested researchers, hobbyists, and organizations. There are currently no such public datasets, as ImageNet, Birds, Flowers, and MS COCO fall short either on image or tag count or restricted distribution. I suggest that the “image -boorus” be used. The image boorus are longstanding web databases which host large numbers of images which can be ‘tagged’ or labeled with an arbitrary number of textual descriptions; they were developed for and are most popular among fans of anime, who provide detailed annotations.
The best known booru, with a focus on quality, is Danbooru. We provide a torrent/rsync mirror which contains ~3.4tb of 4.22m images with 130m tag instances (of 434k defined tags, ~30/image) covering Danbooru from 2005-05-24–2020-12-31 (final ID: #4,279,845), providing the image files & a JSON export of the metadata. We also provide a smaller torrent of SFW images downscaled to 512×512px JPGs (0.37tb; 3,227,715 images) for convenience.
Our hope is that the Danbooru2020 dataset can be used for rich large-scale classification/tagging & learned embeddings, test out the transferability of existing computer vision techniques (primarily developed using photographs) to illustration/anime-style images, provide an archival backup for the Danbooru community, feed back metadata improvements & corrections, and serve as a testbed for advanced techniques such as conditional image generation or style transfer.
Baskerville is a serif typeface designed in the 1750s by John Baskerville (1706–1775) in Birmingham, England, and cut into metal by punchcutter John Handy. Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface, intended as a refinement of what are now called old-style typefaces of the period, especially those of his most eminent contemporary, William Caslon.
In typography, small caps are lowercase characters typeset with glyphs that resemble uppercase letters (capitals) but reduced in height and weight, close to the surrounding lowercase (small) letters or text figures. This is technically not a case-transformation, but a substitution of glyphs, although the effect is often simulated by case-transformation and scaling. Small caps are used in running text as a form of emphasis that is less dominant than all uppercase text, and as a method of emphasis or distinctiveness for text alongside or instead of italics, or when boldface is inappropriate. For example, the text "Text in small caps" appears as Tᴇxᴛ ɪɴ sᴍᴀʟʟ ᴄᴀᴘs in small caps. Small caps can be used to draw attention to the opening phrase or line of a new section of text, or to provide an additional style in a dictionary entry where many parts must be typographically differentiated.
Grand Admiral Thrawn is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. Introduced in the 1991 Timothy Zahn novel Heir to the Empire, he is an Imperial military commander who has taken control of the Galactic Empire's remaining forces five years after the events of the 1983 film Return of the Jedi. Thrawn faces off against classic Star Wars characters Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian in the Thrawn trilogy (1991–1993), but is ultimately defeated. He is seemingly resurrected in the Hand of Thrawn duology (1997–98), and his backstory is explored in various other novels, short stories, comics, and video games in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
We analysed a large health insurance dataset to assess the genetic and environmental contributions of 560 disease-related phenotypes in 56,396 twin pairs and 724,513 sibling pairs out of 44,859,462 individuals that live in the United States. We estimated the contribution of environmental risk factors (socioeconomic status (SES), air pollution and climate) in each phenotype. Mean heritability (h2 = 0.311) and shared environmental variance (c2 = 0.088) were higher than variance attributed to specific environmental factors such as zip-code-level SES (varSES = 0.002), daily air quality (var~AQI` = 0.0004), and average temperature (vartemp = 0.001) overall, as well as for individual phenotypes. We found significant heritability and shared environment for a number of comorbidities (h2 = 0.433, c2 = 0.241) and average monthly cost (h2 = 0.290, c2 = 0.302). All results are available using our Claims Analysis of Twin Correlation and Heritability (CaTCH) web application.
Heritability is essential for understanding the biological causes of disease, but requires laborious patient recruitment and phenotype ascertainment. Electronic health records (EHR) passively capture a wide range of clinically relevant data and provide a novel resource for studying the heritability of traits that are not typically accessible. EHRs contain next-of-kin information collected via patient emergency contact forms, but until now, these data have gone unused in research. We mined emergency contact data at three academic medical centers and identified millions of familial relationships while maintaining patient privacy. Identified relationships were consistent with genetically-derived relatedness. We used EHR data to compute heritability estimates for 500 disease phenotypes. Overall, estimates were consistent with literature and between sites. Inconsistencies were indicative of limitations and opportunities unique to EHR research. These analyses provide a novel validation of the use of EHRs for genetics and disease research.
One Sentence Summary
We demonstrate that next-of-kin information can be used to identify familial relationships in the EHR, providing unique opportunities for precision medicine studies.
After a decade of genome-wide association studies (GWASs), fundamental questions in human genetics are still unanswered, such as the extent of pleiotropy across the genome, the nature of trait-associated genetic variants and the disparate genetic architecture across human traits. The current availability of hundreds of GWAS results provide the unique opportunity to gain insight into these questions. In this study, we harmonized and systematically analysed 4,155 publicly available GWASs. For a subset of well-powered GWAS on 558 unique traits, we provide an extensive overview of pleiotropy and genetic architecture. We show that trait associated loci cover more than half of the genome, and 90% of those loci are associated with multiple trait domains. We further show that potential causal genetic variants are enriched in coding and flanking regions, as well as in regulatory elements, and how trait-polygenicity is related to an estimate of the required sample size to detect 90% of causal genetic variants. Our results provide novel insights into how genetic variation contributes to trait variation. All GWAS results can be queried and visualized at the GWAS ATLAS resource (http://atlas.ctglab.nl).
“Genome-wide meta-analysis of depression identifies 102 independent variants and highlights the importance of the prefrontal brain regions”, David M. Howard, Mark J. Adams, Toni-Kim Clarke, Jonathan D. Hafferty, Jude Gibson, Masoud Shirali, Jonathan R. I. Coleman, Saskia P. Hagenaars, Joey Ward, Eleanor M. Wigmore, Clara Alloza, Xueyi Shen, Miruna C. Barbu, Eileen Y. Xu, Heather C. Whalley, Riccardo E. Marioni, David J. Porteous, Gail Davies, Ian J. Deary, Gibran Hemani, Klaus Berger, Henning Teismann, Rajesh Rawal, Volker Arolt, Bernhard T. Baune, Udo Dannlowski, Katharina Domschke, Chao Tian, David A. Hinds, 23andMe Research Team, Major Depressive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Maciej Trzaskowski, Enda M. Byrne, Stephan Ripke, Daniel J. Smith, Patrick F. Sullivan, Naomi R. Wray, Gerome Breen, Cathryn M. Lewis, Andrew M. McIntosh (2019-01-08):
Major depression is a debilitating psychiatric illness that is typically associated with low mood, anhedonia and a range of comorbidities. Depression has a heritable component that has remained difficult to elucidate with current sample sizes due to the polygenic nature of the disorder. To maximise sample size, we meta-analysed data on 807,553 individuals (246,363 cases and 561,190 controls) from the three largest genome-wide association studies of depression. We identified 102 independent variants, 269 genes, and 15 gene-sets associated with depression, including both genes and gene-pathways associated with synaptic structure and neurotransmission. Further evidence of the importance of prefrontal brain regions in depression was provided by an enrichment analysis. In an independent replication sample of 1,306,354 individuals (414,055 cases and 892,299 controls), 87 of the 102 associated variants were significant following multiple testing correction. Based on the putative genes associated with depression this work also highlights several potential drug repositioning opportunities. These findings advance our understanding of the complex genetic architecture of depression and provide several future avenues for understanding aetiology and developing new treatment approaches.
“Genome wide meta-analysis identifies genomic relationships, novel loci, and pleiotropic mechanisms across eight psychiatric disorders”, Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Phil H. Lee, Verneri Anttila, Hyejung Won, Yen-Chen A. Feng, Jacob Rosenthal, Zhaozhong Zhu, Elliot M. Tucker-Drob, Michel G. Nivard, Andrew D. Grotzinger, Danielle Posthuma, Meg M.-J. Wang, Dongmei Yu, Eli Stahl, Raymond K. Walters, Richard J.L. Anney, Laramie E. Duncan, Sintia Belangero, Jurjen Luykx, Henry Kranzler, Anna Keski-Rahkonen, Edwin H. Cook, George Kirov, Giovanni Coppola, Jaakko Kaprio, Clement C. Zai, Pieter J. Hoekstra, Tobias Banaschewski, Luis A. Rohde, PGC Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Group, PGC Autism Spectrum Disorder Group, PGC Bipolar Disorder Group, PGC Eating Disorders Group, PGC Major Depressive Disorder Group, PGC Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tourette Syndrome Group, PGC Schizophrenia Group, Patrick F. Sullivan, Barbara Franke, Mark J. Daly, Cynthia M. Bulik, Cathryn M. Lewis, Andrew M. McIntosh, Michael C. O’Donovan, Amanda Zheutlin, Ole A. Andreassen, Anders D. Borglum, Gerome Breen, Howard J. Edenberg, Ayman H. Fanous, Stephen V. Faraone, Joel Gelernter, Carol A. Mathews, Manuel Mattheisen, Karen Mitchell, Michael C. Neale, John I. Nurnberger, Stephan Ripke, Susan L. Santangelo, Jeremiah M. Scharf, Murray B. Stein, Laura M. Thornton, James T.R. Walters, Naomi R. Wray, Daniel H. Geschwind, Benjamin Neale, Kenneth S. Kendler, Jordan W. Smoller (2019-01-26):
Genetic influences on psychiatric disorders transcend diagnostic boundaries, suggesting substantial pleiotropy of contributing loci. However, the nature and mechanisms of these pleiotropic effects remain unclear. We performed a meta-analysis of 232,964 cases and 494,162 controls from genome-wide studies of anorexia nervosa, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and Tourette syndrome. Genetic correlation analyses revealed a meaningful structure within the eight disorders identifying three groups of inter-related disorders. We detected 109 loci associated with at least two psychiatric disorders, including 23 loci with pleiotropic effects on four or more disorders and 11 loci with antagonistic effects on multiple disorders. The pleiotropic loci are located within genes that show heightened expression in the brain throughout the lifespan, beginning in the second trimester prenatally, and play prominent roles in a suite of neurodevelopmental processes. These findings have important implications for psychiatric nosology, drug development, and risk prediction.
Familial male-limited precocious puberty, often abbreviated as FMPP, also known as familial sexual precocity or gonadotropin-independent testotoxicosis, is a form of gonadotropin-independent precocious puberty in which boys experience early onset and progression of puberty. Signs of puberty can develop as early as an age of 1 year.
Variation across dog breeds presents a unique opportunity for investigating the evolution and biological basis of complex behavioral traits. We integrated behavioral data from more than 17,000 dogs from 101 breeds with breed-averaged genotypic data (n = 5,697 dogs) from over 100,000 loci in the dog genome. Across 14 traits, we found that breed differences in behavior are highly heritable, and that clustering of breeds based on behavior accurately recapitulates genetic relationships. We identify 131 single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with breed differences in behavior, which are found in genes that are highly expressed in the brain and enriched for neurobiological functions and developmental processes. Our results provide insight into the heritability and genetic architecture of complex behavioral traits, and suggest that dogs provide a powerful model for these questions.
Large-scale phylogenetic studies of animal cognition have revealed robust links between absolute brain volume and species differences in executive function. However, past comparative samples have been composed largely of primates, which are characterized by evolutionarily derived neural scaling rules. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether positive associations between brain volume and executive function reflect a broad-scale evolutionary phenomenon, or alternatively, a unique consequence of primate brain evolution. Domestic dogs provide a powerful opportunity for investigating this question due to their close genetic relatedness, but vast intraspecific variation. Using citizen science data on more than 7000 purebred dogs from 74 breeds, and controlling for genetic relatedness between breeds, we identify strong relationships between estimated absolute brain weight and breed differences in cognition. Specifically, larger-brained breeds performed significantly better on measures of short-term memory and self-control. However, the relationships between estimated brain weight and other cognitive measures varied widely, supporting domain-specific accounts of cognitive evolution. Our results suggest that evolutionary increases in brain size are positively associated with taxonomic differences in executive function, even in the absence of primate-like neuroanatomy. These findings also suggest that variation between dog breeds may present a powerful model for investigating correlated changes in neuroanatomy and cognition among closely related taxa.
The human population is growing, and as a result we need to produce more food whilst reducing the impact of farming on the environment. Selective breeding and genomic selection have had a transformational impact on livestock productivity, and now transgenic and genome-editing technologies offer exciting opportunities for the production of fitter, healthier and more-productive livestock. Here, we review recent progress in the application of genome editing to farmed animal species and discuss the potential impact on our ability to produce food.
Photorespiration is required in C3 plants to metabolize toxic glycolate formed when ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase oxygenates rather than carboxylates ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate. Depending on growing temperatures, photorespiration can reduce yields by 20 to 50% in C3 crops. Inspired by earlier work, we installed into tobacco chloroplasts synthetic glycolate metabolic pathways that are thought to be more efficient than the native pathway. Flux through the synthetic pathways was maximized by inhibiting glycolate export from the chloroplast. The synthetic pathways tested improved photosynthetic quantum yield by 20%. Numerous homozygous transgenic lines increased biomass productivity between 19 and 37% in replicated field trials. These results show that engineering alternative glycolate metabolic pathways into crop chloroplasts while inhibiting glycolate export into the native pathway can drive increases in C3 crop yield under agricultural field conditions.
A gene drive biases the transmission of one of the two copies of a gene such that it is inherited more frequently than by random segregation. Highly efficient gene drive systems have recently been developed in insects, which leverage the sequence-targeted DNA cleavage activity of CRISPR-Cas9 and endogenous homology-directed repair mechanisms to convert heterozygous genotypes to homozygosity1,2,3,4. If implemented in laboratory rodents, similar systems would enable the rapid assembly of currently impractical genotypes that involve multiple homozygous genes (for example, to model multigenic human diseases). To our knowledge, however, such a system has not yet been demonstrated in mammals. Here we use an active genetic element that encodes a guide RNA, which is embedded in the mouse tyrosinase (Tyr) gene, to evaluate whether targeted gene conversion can occur when CRISPR-Cas9 is active in the early embryo or in the developing germline. Although Cas9 efficiently induces double-stranded DNA breaks in the early embryo and male germline, these breaks are not corrected by homology-directed repair. By contrast, Cas9 expression limited to the female germline induces double-stranded breaks that are corrected by homology-directed repair, which copies the active genetic element from the donor to the receiver chromosome and increases its rate of inheritance in the next generation. These results demonstrate the feasibility of CRISPR-Cas9-mediated systems that bias inheritance of desired alleles in mice and that have the potential to transform the use of rodent models in basic and biomedical research.
The idea of iterated embryo selection—conducing multiple generations of embryo selection in a petri dish by exploiting gametogenesis or stem cells—has a complicated history. Tracing relevant papers back to 1989, the idea appears to have been invented independently at least 4 times, and has been proposed under as many names.
A predecessor was introduced by Georges & Massey 1991 as “velogenetics”. Velogenetics led to what appears to be the first invention of IES, Haley & Visscher 1998’s “whizzogenetics”. It was then invented in 2009 by Carl Shulman as “iterated embryo selection”/“IES”. It was reinvented a third time by Sparrow 2013 as “in vitro eugenics”. And it was reinvented up to three times in 2018, as “in vitro breeding”, by Bogliotti et al 2018/Goszczynski et al 2018/Hou et al 2018 (whose relationship is unclear, as the latter two claim novelty but publish not just the same idea but same name, while the former, published before them and giving said name & idea, nevertheless does not claim novelty).
“Linking a mutation to survival in wild mice”, Rowan D. H. Barrett, Stefan Laurent, Ricardo Mallarino, Susanne P. Pfeifer, Charles C. Y. Xu, Matthieu Foll, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, Jonathan S. Duke-Cohan, Jeffrey D. Jensen, Hopi E. Hoekstra (2019):
Adaptive evolution in new or changing environments can be difficult to predict because the functional connections between genotype, phenotype, and fitness are complex. Here, we make these explicit connections by combining field and laboratory experiments in wild mice. We first directly estimate natural selection on pigmentation traits and an underlying pigment locus, Agouti, by using experimental enclosures of mice on different soil colors. Next, we show how a mutation in Agouti associated with survival causes lighter coat color through changes in its protein binding properties. Together, our findings demonstrate how a sequence variant alters phenotype and then reveal the ensuing ecological consequences that drive changes in population allele frequency, thereby illuminating the process of evolution by natural selection.
Transformative AI technologies have the potential to reshape critical aspects of society in the near future. However, in order to properly prepare policy initiatives for the arrival of such technologies accurate forecasts and timelines are necessary. A survey was administered to attendees of three AI conferences during the summer of 2018 (ICML, IJCAI and the HLAI conference). The survey included questions for estimating AI capabilities over the next decade, questions for forecasting five scenarios of transformative AI and questions concerning the impact of computational resources in AI research. Respondents indicated a median of 21.5 humans are currently paid to do) can be feasibly automated now, and that this figure would rise to 40 indicated a 50 current human tasks in 25 years and 99 conference of attendance was found to have a statistically significant impact on all forecasts, with attendees of HLAI providing more optimistic timelines with less uncertainty. These findings suggest that AI experts expect major advances in AI technology to continue over the next decade to a degree that will likely have profound transformative impacts on society.
Our goal is to train a policy for autonomous driving via imitation learning that is robust enough to drive a real vehicle. We find that standard behavior cloning is insufficient for handling complex driving scenarios, even when we leverage a perception system for preprocessing the input and a controller for executing the output on the car: 30 million examples are still not enough. We propose exposing the learner to synthesized data in the form of perturbations to the expert’s driving, which creates interesting situations such as collisions and/or going off the road. Rather than purely imitating all data, we augment the imitation loss with additional losses that penalize undesirable events and encourage progress – the perturbations then provide an important signal for these losses and lead to robustness of the learned model. We show that the ChauffeurNet model can handle complex situations in simulation, and present ablation experiments that emphasize the importance of each of our proposed changes and show that the model is responding to the appropriate causal factors. Finally, we demonstrate the model driving a car in the real world.
Many recently trained neural networks employ large numbers of parameters to achieve good performance. One may intuitively use the number of parameters required as a rough gauge of the difficulty of a problem. But how accurate are such notions? How many parameters are really needed? In this paper we attempt to answer this question by training networks not in their native parameter space, but instead in a smaller, randomly oriented subspace. We slowly increase the dimension of this subspace, note at which dimension solutions first appear, and define this to be the intrinsic dimension of the objective landscape. The approach is simple to implement, computationally tractable, and produces several suggestive conclusions. Many problems have smaller intrinsic dimensions than one might suspect, and the intrinsic dimension for a given dataset varies little across a family of models with vastly different sizes. This latter result has the profound implication that once a parameter space is large enough to solve a problem, extra parameters serve directly to increase the dimensionality of the solution manifold. Intrinsic dimension allows some quantitative comparison of problem difficulty across supervised, reinforcement, and other types of learning where we conclude, for example, that solving the inverted pendulum problem is 100 times easier than classifying digits from MNIST, and playing Atari Pong from pixels is about as hard as classifying CIFAR-10. In addition to providing new cartography of the objective landscapes wandered by parameterized models, the method is a simple technique for constructively obtaining an upper bound on the minimum description length of a solution. A byproduct of this construction is a simple approach for compressing networks, in some cases by more than 100 times.
[Lykken’s (1991) classic criticisms of psychology’s dominant research tradition, from the perspective of the Minnesotan psychometrics school, in association with Paul Meehl: psychology’s replication crisis, the constant fading-away of trendy theories, and inability to predict the real world the measurement problem, null hypothesis significance testing, and the granularity of research methods.]
I shall argue the following theses:
Psychology isn’t doing very well as a scientific discipline and something seems to be wrong somewhere.
This is due partly to the fact that psychology is simply harder than physics or chemistry, and for a variety of reasons. One interesting reason is that people differ structurally from one another and, to that extent, cannot be understood in terms of the same theory since theories are guesses about structure.
But the problems of psychology are also due in part to a defect in our research tradition; our students are carefully taught to behave in the same obfuscating, self-deluding, pettifogging ways that (some of) their teachers have employed.
This book presents a methodology and philosophy of empirical science based on large scale lossless data compression. In this view a theory is scientific if it can be used to build a data compression program, and it is valuable if it can compress a standard benchmark database to a small size, taking into account the length of the compressor itself. This methodology therefore includes an Occam principle as well as a solution to the problem of demarcation. Because of the fundamental difficulty of lossless compression, this type of research must be empirical in nature: compression can only be achieved by discovering and characterizing empirical regularities in the data. Because of this, the philosophy provides a way to reformulate fields such as computer vision and computational linguistics as empirical sciences: the former by attempting to compress databases of natural images, the latter by attempting to compress large text databases. The book argues that the rigor and objectivity of the compression principle should set the stage for systematic progress in these fields. The argument is especially strong in the context of computer vision, which is plagued by chronic problems of evaluation.
The book also considers the field of machine learning. Here the traditional approach requires that the models proposed to solve learning problems be extremely simple, in order to avoid overfitting. However, the world may contain intrinsically complex phenomena, which would require complex models to understand. The compression philosophy can justify complex models because of the large quantity of data being modeled (if the target database is 100 Gb, it is easy to justify a 10 Mb model). The complex models and abstractions learned on the basis of the raw data (images, language, etc) can then be reused to solve any specific learning problem, such as face recognition or machine translation.
We detail our ongoing work in Flint, Michigan to detect pipes made of lead and other hazardous metals. After elevated levels of lead were detected in residents’ drinking water, followed by an increase in blood lead levels in area children, the state and federal governments directed over $125 million to replace water service lines, the pipes connecting each home to the water system. In the absence of accurate records, and with the high cost of determining buried pipe materials, we put forth a number of predictive and procedural tools to aid in the search and removal of lead infrastructure. Alongside these statistical and machine learning approaches, we describe our interactions with government officials in recommending homes for both inspection and replacement, with a focus on the statistical model that adapts to incoming information. Finally, in light of discussions about increased spending on infrastructure development by the federal government, we explore how our approach generalizes beyond Flint to other municipalities nationwide.
This paper examines the joint evolution of emigration and individualism in Scandinavia during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1920). A long-standing hypothesis holds that people of a stronger individualistic mindset are more likely to migrate as they suffer lower costs of abandoning existing social networks. Building on this hypothesis, I propose a theory of cultural change where migrant self-selection generates a relative push away from individualism, and towards collectivism, in migrant-sending locations through a combination of initial distributional effects and channels of intergenerational cultural transmission. Due to the interdependent relationship between emigration and individualism, emigration is furthermore associated with cultural convergence across subnational locations. I combine various sources of empirical data, including historical population census records and passenger lists of emigrants, and test the relevant elements of the proposed theory at the individual and subnational district level, and in the short and long run. Together, the empirical results suggest that individualists were more likely to migrate than collectivists, and that the Scandinavian countries would have been considerably more individualistic and culturally diverse, had emigration not taken place. [Keywords: Culture, individualism, migration, selection, economic history]
Knudsen 2019 finds that the emigration of 25% of the Scandinavian population to the USA 1850–1920 was driven in part by more ‘individualistic’ personality factors among emigrants, leading to permanent decreases in mean ‘individualism’ in the home countries. This is attributed to cultural factors, rather than genetics. I model the overall migration as a simple truncation selection scenario, and find that in a simple model under reasonable assumptions, the entire effect could be genetic.
We investigated the self-regulatory strategies people spontaneously use in their everyday lives to regulate their persistence during aversive activities. In pilot studies (pooled N = 794), we identified self-regulatory strategies from self-reports and generated hypotheses about individual differences in trait self-control predicting their use. Next, deploying ambulatory assessment (N = 264, 1940 reports of aversive/challenging activities), we investigated predictors of the strategies’ self-reported use and effectiveness (trait self-control and demand types). The popularity of strategies varied across demands. In addition, people higher in trait self-control were more likely to focus on the positive consequences of a given activity, set goals, and use emotion regulation. Focusing on positive consequences, focusing on negative consequences (of not performing the activity), thinking of the near finish, and emotion regulation increased perceived self-regulatory success across demands, whereas distracting oneself from the aversive activity decreased it. None of these strategies, however, accounted for the beneficial effects of trait self-control on perceived self-regulatory success. Hence, trait self-control and strategy use appear to represent separate routes to good self-regulation. By considering trait-approaches and process-approaches these findings promote a more comprehensive understanding of self-regulatory success and failure during people’s daily attempts to regulate their persistence.
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) is a genetically transmitted neurodegenerative prion disease that incurs great suffering and has neither a treatment nor cure. The clinical literature is devoid of management plans (other than palliative). Part 1 of this article reviews the sparse literature about FFI, including case descriptions. Part 2 describes the efforts of one patient (with the rapid-course Met-Met subtype) who contended with his devastating symptoms and improved the quality of his life. Interventions were based on the premise that some symptoms may be secondary to insomnia and not a direct result of the disease itself. Strategies (derived by trial and error) were devised to induce sleep and increase alertness. Interventions included vitamin supplementation, narcoleptics, anesthesia, stimulants, sensory deprivation, exercise, light entrainment, growth hormone, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The patient exceeded the average survival time by nearly 1 year, and during this time (when most patients are totally incapacitated), he was able to write a book and to successfully drive hundreds of miles. Methods to induce sleep may extend and enhance life during the disease course, although they do not prevent death. It is hoped that some of his methods will inspire further clinical studies.
…“There’s so much so in sorrow,” he said at one point. “Let me down from here,” he said at another. “I’ve lost my modality.” To the surprise of his family members, the lifelong atheist also began hallucinating angels and complaining about the crowded room—even though no one was there.
Felix’s 53-year-old daughter, Lisa Smartt, kept track of his utterances, writing them down as she sat at his bedside in those final days. Smartt majored in linguistics at UC Berkeley in the 1980s and built a career teaching adults to read and write. Transcribing Felix’s ramblings was a sort of coping mechanism for her, she says….eventually she wrote a book, Words on the Threshold, published in early 2017, about the linguistic patterns in 2,000 utterances from 181 dying people, including her father. Despite the limitations of this book, it’s unique—it’s the only published work I could find when I tried to satisfy my curiosity about how people really talk when they die.
…Many people die in such silence, particularly if they have advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s that robbed them of language years earlier. For those who do speak, it seems their vernacular is often banal. From a doctor I heard that people often say, “Oh fuck, oh fuck.” Often it’s the names of wives, husbands, children. “A nurse from the hospice told me that the last words of dying men often resembled each other,” wrote Hajo Schumacher in a September essay in Der Spiegel. “Almost everyone is calling for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ with the last breath.”…Delirium is so frequent then, wrote the New Zealand psychiatrist Sandy McLeod, that “it may even be regarded as exceptional for patients to remain mentally clear throughout the final stages of malignant illness.” About half of people who recover from postoperative delirium recall the disorienting, fearful experience.
…He also repeated words and phrases, often ones that made no sense. “The green dimension! The green dimension!” (Repetition is common in the speech of people with dementia and also those who are delirious.) Smartt found that repetitions often expressed themes such as gratitude and resistance to death. But there were also unexpected motifs, such as circles, numbers, and motion. “I’ve got to get off, get off! Off of this life,” Felix had said…In Final Gifts, the hospice nurses Callanan and Kelley note that “the dying often use the metaphor of travel to alert those around them that it is time for them to die.” They quote a 17-year-old, dying of cancer, distraught because she can’t find the map. “If I could find the map, I could go home! Where’s the map? I want to go home!”
[Essay by psychiatrist about care of the dying in American healthcare: people die agonizing, slow, expensive deaths, prolonged by modern healthcare, deprived of all dignity and joy by disease and decay. There is little noble about it.]
You will become bedridden, unable to walk or even to turn yourself over. You will become completely dependent on nurse assistants to intermittently shift your position to avoid pressure ulcers. When they inevitably slip up, your skin develops huge incurable sores that can sometimes erode all the way to the bone, and which are perpetually infected with foul-smelling bacteria. Your limbs will become practically vestigial organs, like the appendix, and when your vascular disease gets too bad, one or more will be amputated, sacrifices to save the host. Urinary and fecal continence disappear somewhere in the process, so you’re either connected to catheters or else spend a while every day lying in a puddle of your own wastes until the nurses can help you out….
Somewhere in the process your mind very quietly and without fanfare gives up the ghost. It starts with forgetting a couple of little things, and progresses…They don’t remember their own names, they don’t know where they are or what they’re doing there, and they think it’s the 1930s or the 1950s or don’t even have a concept of years at all. When you’re alert and oriented “x0”, the world becomes this terrifying place where you are stuck in some kind of bed and can’t move and people are sticking you with very large needles and forcing tubes down your throat and you have no idea why or what’s going on.
So of course you start screaming and trying to attack people and trying to pull the tubes and IV lines out. Every morning when I come in to work I have to check the nurses’ notes for what happened the previous night, and every morning a couple of my patients have tried to pull all of their tubes and lines out. If it’s especially bad they try to attack the staff, and although the extremely elderly are really bad at attacking people this is nevertheless Unacceptable Behavior and they have to be restrained ie tied down to the bed. A presumably more humane alternative sometimes used instead or in addition is to just drug you up on all of those old-timey psychiatric medications that actual psychiatrists don’t use anymore because of their bad reputation…Nevertheless, this is the way many of my patients die. Old, limbless, bedridden, ulcerated, in a puddle of waste, gasping for breath, loopy on morphine, hopelessly demented, in a sterile hospital room with someone from a volunteer program who just met them sitting by their bed.
…I work in a Catholic hospital. People here say the phrase “culture of life” a lot, as in “we need to cultivate a culture of life.” They say it almost as often as they say “patient-centered”. At my hospital orientation, a whole bunch of nuns and executives and people like that got up and told us how we had to do our part to “cultivate a culture of life.”
And now every time I hear that phrase I want to scream. 21st century American hospitals do not need to “cultivate a culture of life”. We have enough life. We have life up the wazoo. We have more life than we know what to do with. We have life far beyond the point where it becomes a sick caricature of itself. We prolong life until it becomes a sickness, an abomination, a miserable and pathetic flight from death that saps out and mocks everything that made life desirable in the first place. 21st century American hospitals need to cultivate a culture of life the same way that Newcastle needs to cultivate a culture of coal, the same way a man who is burning to death needs to cultivate a culture of fire.
And so every time I hear that phrase I want to scream, or if I cannot scream, to find some book of hospital poetry that really is a book of hospital poetry and shove it at them, make them read it until they understand. There is no such book, so I hope it will be acceptable if I just rip off of Wilfred Owen directly:
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the gurney that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sack of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene with cancer, bitter with the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues My friend, you would not so pontificate To reasoners beset by moral strife The old lie: we must try to cultivate A culture of life.
Cannabis from hemp (Cannabis sativa and C. indica) is one of the most common illegal drugs used by drug abusers. Indian cannabis contains around 70 alkaloids, and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) is the most psychoactive substance. Animal intoxications occur rarely and are mostly accidental. According to the US Animal Poison Control Center, cannabis intoxication mostly affects dogs (96%). The most common cause of such intoxication is unintentional ingestion of a cannabis product, but it may also occur after the exposure to marijuana smoke. A 6-year-old Persian cat was brought to the veterinary clinic due to strong psychomotor agitation turning into aggression. During hospitalisation for 14 days, the cat behaved normally and had no further attacks of unwanted behaviour. It was returned to its home but shortly after it developed neurological signs again and was re-hospitalised. On presentation, the patient showed no neurological abnormalities except for symmetric mydriasis and scleral congestion. During the examination, the behaviour of the cat changed dramatically. It developed alternate states of agitation and apathy, each lasting several minutes. On interview it turned out that the cat had been exposed to marijuana smoke. Blood toxicology tests by gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry revealed the presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 5.5 ng/mL, 11-hydroxy-delta-9-THC at 1.2 ng/mL, and 11-carboxy-delta-9-THC at 13.8 ng/mL. The cat was given an isotonic solution of NaCl 2.5 and 2.5% glucose at a dose of 40 mL/kg/day parenterally and was hospitalised. After complete recovery, the cat was returned to it's owner and future isolation of the animal from marijuana smoke was advised. This is the first case of a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol intoxication in a cat with both description of the clinical findings and the blood concentration of delta-9-THC and its main metabolites.
The Asian giant hornet, including the color form referred to as the Japanese giant hornet, is the world's largest hornet. It is native to temperate and tropical East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, and parts of the Russian Far East. It was also found in the Pacific Northwest of North America in late 2019, with a few more additional sightings in 2020, prompting concern that it could become an invasive species. They prefer to live in low mountains and forests, while almost completely avoiding plains and high-altitude climates. V. mandarinia creates nests by digging, co-opting pre-existing tunnels dug by rodents, or occupying spaces near rotted pine roots. It feeds primarily on larger insects, colonies of other eusocial insects, tree sap, and honey from honey bee colonies. The hornet has a body length of 45 millimetres, a wingspan around 75 mm (3 in), and a stinger 6 mm long, which injects a large amount of potent venom.Although the scientific literature and official government sources continue to refer to this species by its established common name, the popular media have taken to using the nickname "murder hornet".
Because of the intrinsic randomness of the evolutionary process, a mutant with a fitness advantage has some chance to be selected but no certainty. Any experiment that searches for advantageous mutants will lose many of them due to random drift. It is therefore of great interest to find population structures that improve the odds of advantageous mutants. Such structures are called amplifiers of natural selection: they increase the probability that advantageous mutants are selected. Arbitrarily strong amplifiers guarantee the selection of advantageous mutants, even for very small fitness advantage. Despite intensive research over the past decade, arbitrarily strong amplifiers have remained rare. Here we show how to construct a large variety of them. Our amplifiers are so simple that they could be useful in biotechnology, when optimizing biological molecules, or as a diagnostic tool, when searching for faster dividing cells or viruses. They could also occur in natural population structures.
Many products—such as lighting and computing—have undergone revolutionary changes since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This paper considers the opposite end of the spectrum of product change, focusing on nails. Nails are a simple, everyday product whose form has changed relatively little over the last three centuries, and this paper constructs a continuous, constant-quality price index for nails since 1695. These data indicate that the price of nails fell significantly relative to an overall basket of consumption goods as reflected in the CPI, with the preferred index falling by a factor of about 15 times from the mid 1700s to the mid 1900s. While these declines were nowhere near as rapid as those for lighting and computing, they were still quite sizable and large enough to enable the development of other products and processes and contribute to downstream changes in patterns of economic activity. Moreover, with the relative price of nails having been so much higher in an earlier period, nails played a much more important role in economic activity in an earlier period than they do now. [A not yet completed section of the paper will use a growth accounting framework to assess the proximate sources of the change in the price of nails.]
I argue that if David Lewis’ modal realism is true, modal realists from different possible worlds can fall in love with each other. I offer a method for uniquely picking out possible people who are in love with us and not with our counterparts. Impossible lovers and trans-world love letters are considered. Anticipating objections, I argue that we can stand in the right kinds of relations to merely possible people to be in love with them and that ending a trans-world relationship to start a relationship with an actual person isn’t cruel to one’s otherworldly lover.
Modal realism is the view propounded by David Kellogg Lewis that all possible worlds are real in the same way as is the actual world: they are "of a kind with this world of ours." It is based on the following tenets: possible worlds exist; possible worlds are not different in kind from the actual world; possible worlds are irreducible entities; the term actual in actual world is indexical, i.e. any subject can declare their world to be the actual one, much as they label the place they are "here" and the time they are "now".
The tale of Phyllis and Aristotle is a medieval cautionary tale about the triumph of a seductive woman, Phyllis, over the greatest male intellect, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. It is one of several Power of Women stories from that time. Among early versions is the French Lai d'Aristote from 1220.
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A. E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
From the New World is a Japanese novel by Yusuke Kishi, originally published in 2008 by Kodansha. It is titled after Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World", whose Movement II appears in the story several times.
Watership Down is a survival and adventure novel by English author Richard Adams, published by Rex Collings Ltd of London in 1972. Set in southern England, around Hampshire, the story features a small group of rabbits. Although they live in their natural wild environment, with burrows, they are anthropomorphised, possessing their own culture, language, proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. It is the largest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere. MONA houses ancient, modern and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection. Noted for its central themes of sex and death, the museum has been described by Walsh as a "subversive adult Disneyland".
The Dark Knight Rises is a 2012 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan, and the story with David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, it is the final installment in Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the sequel to The Dark Knight (2008). Christian Bale stars as Bruce Wayne / Batman, alongside Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman. Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the revolutionary Bane forces Bruce Wayne to resume his role as Batman and save Gotham City from nuclear destruction.
The Thief and the Cobbler is an animated fantasy film directed by animator Richard Williams. Originally conceived in the 1960s, the film was in and out of production for nearly three decades due to independent funding and ambitiously complex animation. It was finally placed into full production in 1989 when Warner Bros. agreed to finance and distribute the film. When production went over budget and fell behind schedule, the film was heavily cut and hastily re-edited by producer Fred Calvert without Williams's involvement; it was eventually released in 1993 by Allied Filmmakers under the title The Princess and the Cobbler. Two years later, Disney subsidiary Miramax Films released another re-edit entitled Arabian Knight. Both versions of the film performed poorly and received mixed reviews.
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Until recently, artificial selection has relied on the biometrical evaluation of individual breeding values from an animal’s own performance and from performance of its relatives. This biometrical strategy is based on relatively simple genetic premises, operating within a “black box”. Briefly, the majority of economically important traits are so-called complex or quantitative traits, meaning that the phenotype of an animal is determined by both environment and a large number of genes with individually small, additive effects. The proportion of the phenotypic variation observed in a given population that is genetic in nature is the heritability of the trait. Substantial genetic progress has been obtained using this approach. One of the powers of the biometrical approach is that it obviates the need for any detailed molecular knowledge of the underlying genes or Economic Trait Loci (ETL).
However, it is believed that the molecular identification of these BTLs should allow for an increased genetic response by affecting both time and accuracy of selection, through a procedure called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) (1,2). Moreover, we propose to use a scheme that we call “velogenetics”, or the combined use of Marker Assisted Selection and germ-line manipulations aimed at shortening the generation interval of domestic species (especially cattle), which would allow the efficient introgression of mapped Economic Trait Loci between genetic backgrounds.
Marker-assisted selection holds promise because genetic markers provide completely heritable traits that can be measured at any age in either sex and that are potentially correlated with traits of economic value. Theoretical and simulation studies show that the advantage of using marker-assisted selection can be substantial, particularly when marker information is used, because normal selection is less effective, for example, for sex-limited or carcass traits. Assessment of the available information and its most effective use is difficult, but approaches such as crossvalidation may help in this respect. Marker systems are now becoming available that allow the high density of markers required for close associations between marker loci and trait loci. Emerging technologies could allow large numbers of polymorphic sites to be identified, practically guaranteeing that markers will be available that are in complete association with any trait locus. Identifying which polymorphism out of many that is associated with any trait will remain problematic, but multiple-locus disequilibrium measures may allow performance to be associated with unique marker haplotypes. This type of approach, combined with cheap and high density markers, could allow a move from selection based on a combination of “infinitesimal” effects plus individual loci to effective total genomic selection. In such a unified model, each region of the genome would be given its appropriate weight in a breeding program. However, the collection of good quality trait information will remain central to the use of these technologies for the foreseeable future.
A series of recent scientific results suggest that, in the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to create viable human gametes from human stem cells. This paper discusses the potential of this technology to make possible what I call “in vitro eugenics”: the deliberate breeding of human beings in vitro by fusing sperm and egg derived from different stem-cell lines to create an embryo and then deriving new gametes from stem cells derived from that embryo. Repeated iterations of this process would allow scientists to proceed through multiple human generations in the laboratory. In vitro eugenics might be used to study the heredity of genetic disorders and to produce cell lines of a desired character for medical applications. More controversially, it might also function as a powerful technology of ‘human enhancement’ by allowing researchers to use all the techniques of selective breeding to produce individuals with a desired genotype.