Showing posts from February, 2021

DLL - Fingers, Toes, Wingtips and Siphons

 There is a homeobox gene called dll, which, if damaged, let Sean B. Carroll tell the story. A few years ago, we were studying the Distal-less gene (Dll for short), so named because when it is mutated, the distal (outer) parts of fly limbs are lost. We were curious whether this limb-building gene played a role in other species. We were pleased to find that Dll was deployed in the distal parts of developing butterfly limbs, and in the limbs of crustaceans, Carroll, Sean B.. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo (p. 69). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.  It happens that lobsters and fruit flies are not the only ones where it is active.  All sorts of distal limb portions are under its control, including those appendages of mammals and the siphon of the sea squirt.  Such homeobox genes appear to have a truly ancient heritage.  The eyespots of primitive worms, the compound eyes of a fruit fly, and the camera eyes of mice and other mammals have their eye format

Unrestrained Capitalism: Texas

Texas is a warm place, and Texas does not like government regulation.  Texas utilities took advantage of these facts to separate their power grid from the rest of the country to avoid regulation and not bother to winterize power generation systems.  Despite the climatology, it got very cold in Texas over the past week and water supplies to fossil fuel and nuclear plants froze up and so did the States unwinterized wind turbines.  Result: millions lost power and water on some of the coldest days in State record.  Many died.  Others were forced to shelter together in close proximity during the pandemic. Because the Texas power grid isolated itself, it couldn't even import power.

Merit, Value, and Justice

 I am arguing with Connolley again.  The occasion is his review ( ) of a book called the Tyranny of Merit. It's not likely to be a book I would read, because I'm a lot more concerned about the tyranny of folly.  Dr. Connolley, and perhaps the author, manage to wander into the thorny philosophical territory of the meaning of  value, justice, and merit.  Can we say anything about these except that opinions differ? Connolley: " The assertion (p 136) that Hayek doesn't understand that things other than market value, have value, is drivel. So what we get is a fatal problem for his theory: market value isn't moral worth. His answer (again, p 136) is to take market value as a proxy for social contribution, which is lying worthy of Plato. In his version, free-market liberalism differs from meritocracy. In mine, it doesn't." Dr. C tends to get a bit vituperative, which tends to have a bad effect on me,