Selection of the week

Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), Part 1 with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. This piece ushered in the modern age. It cause minor rioting when first performed in Paris in 1913 but now is considered one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.

3 thoughts on “Selection of the week

  1. that along with debussy (nocturnes or something) was one of the few classical things i listened to (found it in my parents record collection, when they still had records, back around 10,000 BC). a friend of mine (into astrophysics, a total geek nerd) was into chopin—sounds good as a film track. john cage’s 4’55” of course is the greatest classical piece (sounds of silence)—i do an extended version. i get beer bottles thrown at me or am told to leave when i play out (have a gig—i usually just dont show up). i am predicting spring will soon be here, if it isn’t already–already saw one snake

    as an aside i wonder if you have heard of pankaj mehta of BU (someplace up north–my niece goes to a school there, and i saw a bunch of punk rock up there too—sometimes not too friendly situation—mini riots) . they also have sports races and other things in the news. he has also written on ‘missing heritability’ issue (see ‘there’s a gene for that’ in jan 2014 . his CV says he went to elementary school at CalTech (hopfield was there)'s-a-gene-for-that

    he comes out on the opposite side (eg zuk and es lander (?) of you on this issue i think. he wrote me back saying he was going to write me back. haha. BU is famous for john silber and stevn grossberg among others. also ‘modern lovers’ (band) and roxbury (integration).


  2. @ishi It depends on what you mean by opposite side. I would disagree with Mehta’s assertion that heritability cannot be explained by GWAS. What Visscher and others (including us) have shown is that complex traits are generally described by many genes of small effect and GWAS can capture a large fraction of these effects. However, I would also agree with much of his Jacobin article. I agree that heritability is always defined with respect to a fixed environment and says nothing about the mean of the population. Clearly, depriving a child of nutrients (either through malnutrition or chronic infection and inflammation) will stunt growth and cognitive development. I also don’t think GWAS will point us directly to new drug targets. However, I do think it could be useful in determining how much variability can be attributed to genetic factors and how many factors are involved. We will always need old fashioned physiology. I also agree that there could be political reasons for favoring strong genetic determinism.


  3. thanks for the good response. i don’t spend much time on it, but by ‘opposing sides’ i mean by my reading (and interpretations by a few others –E Charney (Duke), Beckwith (harvard), H wallace genewatch)—none of whom are really population geneticists) ‘one side’ would emphasize the paper by Zuk, E S Lander, etc. in PNAS 2012 (so-called LP (limiting pathway) model which focuses on epistasis), and the ‘other side’ would be you, Visscher, S Hsu of infoprocessing blog (physics, president of michigan state i think, has a bit of an obsession with IQ), and also the blogger who does ‘gene expression’ or GNXP (who lost his NYT’s job since he posts on some sites which have what would be often viewed as having racist articles; his blog article on ‘price’s equation’ is quite good, to me ).

    The point that heritability is defined with respect to a fixed environment to me is most basic—the ‘environment’ however is not just nutrition, or say exposure to lead paint (we just had lead abatement work in my apt, and some see as a risk factor for criminal/violent behavior) , or air pollution—but also ‘psychological’ factors which are (to me) very hard to measure or quantify. (A well known one is ‘stereotype threat’ (claude steele, stanford), or even the practice in scholing in which certain students get to answer questions, while others get ignored (even if they know the answer). This also leads to ‘labeling’—so that people who get ‘labeled’ (or say arbitrarily bullied) often end up as being seen as ‘having a problem’ , and often this is assumed to be, say, due to a genetic predisposition or gene, while the possibility the ‘problem’ came from an external source. (A close friend of one of my relatives in school committed suicide—and was always viewed as smart, athletic, healthy attractive, well adjusted etc. , but the reason given was she had a biochemical disorder or genetic predispostion.)

    To me the Zuk/Lander LP model is nonlinear (though sort of piece wise linear—i think of switching circuits—eg Gabriel Kron 1950’s) and only focuses on epistasis, so i like it (though it leaves out the ‘social environment’ part). I also think in general its almost impossible to distinguish between a nonlinear model and an additive one with enough terms (eg Ornstein and Weiss, Bull AMS 1991).


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