Monday, October 26, 2015

Diary: genetics + NHS screening + political correctness

1. Reading the rather good "Ancestors in Our Genome: The New Science of Human Evolution" by Dr Eugene E. Harris, Professor of Biology at the City University of New York. Based on whole genome analyses from diverse human populations, chimpanzees, gorillas and other apes and monkeys, what can be said about our recent evolutionary history? The right framework to think about this turns out to be population genetics. What follows is an extremely informative history of the last 20-30 years of human evolution research plus a very good conceptual overview of population genetics itself. I intend to write a much more detailed review once I've finished this book. (Update: read it here).

2. How many screening programmes does the NHS run for 'elderly men'? I'm already on the  faecal occult blood (FOB) test programme (as yucky as it sounds) and have been sent off for a colonoscopy (the link takes you to my diary of the experience). Today I received the invitation for abdominal aortic aneurysm screening which thankfully promises to be just an abdominal gel rub-down and an ultrasound scan: ten minutes. I will let you know. Google tells me that I've now run the gamut of age-appropriate screening.

3. Only in America department (from the New York Times via Steve Sailer who has the summarised story).
"Anna didn’t want to keep her feelings secret. As far as she knew, neither did D.J. In recent weeks, their relationship had changed, and it wasn’t clear when or how to share the news. ‘‘It’s your call,’’ she said to him in the lead-up to a meeting with his mother and older brother. ‘‘It’s your family. It’s up to you.’’

When she arrived at the house on Memorial Day in 2011, Anna didn’t know what D.J. planned to do. His brother, Wesley, was working in the garden, so she went straight inside to speak with D.J. and his mother, P. They chatted for a while at the dining table about D.J.’s plans for school and for getting his own apartment. Then there was a lull in the conversation after Wesley came back in, and Anna took hold of D.J.’s hand. ‘‘We have something to tell you,’’ they announced at last. ‘‘We’re in love.’’

‘‘What do you mean, in love?’’ P. asked, the color draining from her face.

To Wesley, she looked pale and weak, like ‘‘Caesar when he found out that Brutus betrayed him.’’ He felt sick to his stomach. What made them so uncomfortable was not that Anna was 41 and D.J. was 30, or that Anna is white and D.J. is black, or even that Anna was married with two children while D.J. had never dated anyone. What made them so upset — what led to all the arguing that followed, and the criminal trial and million-­dollar civil suit — was the fact that Anna can speak and D.J. can’t; that she was a tenured professor of ethics at Rutgers University in Newark and D.J. has been declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler. …"
Anna has now been found guilty of sexual assault and - with sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9 - could end up in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women for up to 40 years.

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