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Comment: Re:obvious (Score 1) 125

by the biologist (#47242979) Attached to: Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair
Flaxen/blonde hair isn't a signal of youth of most cultures, because it simply doesn't happen, It might work as a signal of youth in a subset of European cultures or in Australian/Melanesian (as you note).

The blonde hair of Australian/Melanesian peoples isn't just in the females, though it is more prominent in females. That it isn't consistent with the UV-vitaminD hypothesis doesn't suggest sexual selection is involved, only that UV-selection isn't involved.

The pupil thing does sound likely, however. Cultures with predominantly black irises would have to rely on other characteristics to identify interest from others.

Comment: Re:It's a gene (Score 2) 125

by the biologist (#47151495) Attached to: Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair
The ENCODE project has shown that effectively every piece of DNA is transcribed at some level. All ORFs are transcribed, but we don't always know a function/meaning associated with them. We keep finding transcribed sequences to be important which we had previously attributed to noise. There are even proteins with well-recognized functions that appear to have been derived from random noise-sequences.

There isn't a need to switch to metaphor with such a simple concept as this and doing so only confuses your meaning. "Syntactic term" vs. "semantic term" are near-meaningless phrases to me, even with the assistance of google. Both "orf" and "gene" are terms in common use that have specific and implied meanings in different contexts.

Someone in molecular and computational biology (like me) would also call the controlling element a gene. Science journalism is far too often full of such odd definitions and misunderstandings.

Comment: Re:obvious (Score 1) 125

by the biologist (#47148451) Attached to: Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair

Every human being on the planet is more attracted to light colored hair than dark because, evolution-wise, it indicates being younger and thus more likely to have a healthy baby in theory.

This appears to be a pretty dramatically unfounded statement. I would be interested in your evidence for this claim, however.

Comment: Re:I'll take the USPS over Comcast (Score 5, Informative) 208

by the biologist (#47053893) Attached to: Congress Unhappy With FCC's Proposed Changes To Net Neutrality

as of 2006, the USPS has been required to pre-finance retiree benefits for the next 75 years. The govt as a whole uses the USPS as a profit center, while making it look like the USPS is in debt.

Comment: Re:Hire/promote dont just complain (Score 4, Insightful) 126

As someone going through a PhD program in biology you don't know what the hell you're talking about. The only institutional line that matters is, "Bring in grant money!".

The rest of it is pretty much spot-on, but not really any different than in business or anywhere else. You've got to convince your bosses to keep from firing you, after all.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen