Monday, November 3, 2008

The DNA Network

The DNA Network

Hot flashes possibly something to sweat over [The Navigator - Navigenics Blog]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 09:29 PM CST

Michael Nierenberg, M.D.

imageHot flashes, a common and annoying rite of passage for many women entering menopause, may truly be something to sweat over.

Long seen as a nuisance, an unavoidable quality-of-life issue, hot flashes have been linked to insomnia, irritability and depressed mood, not to mention soaking bedsheets. But now there's increasing evidence that hot flashes may have medical implications as well.

The habitual flushing and perspiration many women have come to dread may actually be a harbinger – a warning – of heart disease.

A series of studies has helped put some – but not all – of the pieces together on this puzzling physiological phenomenon.

hunting baby seals with Sarah Palin [the skeptical alchemist]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 08:20 PM CST

As you might have already heard a hundred times, Sarah Palin recently got pranked by a couple of Canadian comedians, who after calling around for about a week or more, finally managed to reach her... and made her believe that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was on the line.

If you haven't heard the prank, now is the time.


You can find an (alomst) full transcript on the major Canadian national paper, The Globe and Mail, or right under the fold.

After you have done laughing... I have a couple of announcements for you! I will be live-blogging tomorrow, on US Election night. It is an exceptional moment in history, and it deserves some exceptional attention from this blog.

Also... please vote vote vote... not only at the voting booth, but in my poll in the sidebar on your right!

Last but not least -- I am still looking for someone to host the MCB Carnival on November 9!!! We already have many submitted articles, so if you are interested, please leave a message here on this blog, or send me an e-mail.

Sarah Palin: This is Sarah.

Masked Avengers: Ah, yeah, Gov. Palin.

Palin: Hello.

Avengers: Just hold on for President Sarkozy, one moment.

P: Oh, it's not him yet, they're saying. I always do that.

A: Yes, hello, Gov. Palin.

P: Hello, this is Sarah, how are you?

A: Fine, and you? This is Nicolas Sarkozy speaking, how are you?

P: Oh, it's so good to hear you. Thank you for calling us.

A: Oh, it's a pleasure.

P: Thank you sir, we have such great respect for you, John McCain and I. We love you and thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me.

A: I follow your campaigns closely with my special American adviser Johnny Hallyday, you know?

P: Yes, good.

A: Excellent. Are you confident?

P: Very confident and we're thankful that polls are showing that the race is tightening and...

A: Well I know very well that the campaign can be exhausting. How do you feel right now, my dear?

P: I feel so good. I feel like we're in a marathon and at the very end of the marathon you get your second wind and you plow to the finish.

A: You see, I got elected in France because I'm real and you seem to be someone who's real, as well.

P: Yes, yeah. Nico, we so appreciate this opportunity.

A: You know I see you as a president one day, too.

P: Maybe in eight years.

A: Well, I hope for you. You know, we have a lot in common because personally one of my favourite activities is to hunt, too.

P: Oh, very good. We should go hunting together.

A: Exactly, we could try go hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that. Like we say in French, on pourrait tuer des bebe phoque s, aussi.

P: Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we're getting work done. We can kill two birds with one stone that way.

A: I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun. I'd really love to go, so long as we don't bring along Vice-President Cheney.

P: No, I'll be a careful shot, yes.

A: Yes, you know we have a lot in common also, because except from my house I can see Belgium. That's kind of less interesting than you.

P: Well, see, we're right next door to different countries that we all need to be working with, yes.

A: Some people said in the last days and I thought that was mean that you weren't experienced enough in foreign relations and you know that's completely false. That's the thing that I said to my great friend, the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse.

P: Well, he's doing fine, too, and yeah, when you come into a position underestimated it gives you an opportunity to prove the pundits and the critics wrong. You work that much harder.

A: I was wondering because you are so next to him, one of my good friends, the prime minister of Quebec, Mr. Richard Z. Sirois, have you met him recently? Did he come to one of your rallies?

P: I haven't seen him at one of the rallies but it's been great working with the Canadian officials. I know as governor we have a great co-operative effort there as we work on all of our resource-development projects. You know, I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally and your beautiful wife. Oh my goodness, you've added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours.

A: Thank you very much. You know my wife Carla would love to meet you, even though you know she was a bit jealous that I was supposed to speak to you today.

P: Well, give her a big hug for me.

A: You know my wife is a popular singer and a former top model and she's so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you.

P: Oh my goodness, I didn't know that.

A: Yes, in French it's called de rouge a levre sur un cochon, or if you prefer in English, Joe the's his life, Joe the Plumber.

P: Maybe she understands some of the unfair criticism but I bet you she is such a hard worker, too, and she realizes you just plow through that criticism.

A: I just want to be sure. That phenomenon Joe the Plumber. That's not your husband, right?

P: That's not my husband but he's a normal American who just works hard and doesn't want government to take his money.

A: Yes, yes, I understand we have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France. It's called Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpit.

P: Right, that's what it's all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them. You're a very good example for us here.

A: I see a bit about NBC, even Fox News wasn't an ally as much as usual.

P: Yeah, that's what we're up against.

A: Gov. Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life. You know Hustler's Nailin' Paylin?

P: Ohh, good, thank you, yes.

A: That was really edgy.

P: Well, good.

A: I really loved you and I must say something also, governor, you've been pranked by the Masked Avengers. We are two comedians from Montreal.

P: Ohhh, have we been pranked? And what radio station is this?

A: CKOI in Montreal.

P: In Montreal? Tell me the radio station call letters.

A: CK...hello?

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Corny Review Titles [The Daily Transcript]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 04:21 PM CST

C'mon you've all seen them. Here's one I just spotted in the most recent issue of Molecular Cell:

Methed-Up FOXOs Can't In-Akt-ivate

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Otzi! Otzi! Otzi!!! [Genome Blog]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 02:00 PM CST

This was the chant that my daughter and I had as we toured through Italy. We had planned our trip to work our way from learning more about the ancient Romans at Ostia Antica and then work our way to the ultimate destination of our trip, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano: home of Otzi the Iceman. And now we are here.

The two of us have been fascinated by Otzi since we first heard of him back in the fall of 1991 when he was first discovered in the ice of the Otzal Alps by Erika and Helmut Simon. This week, conflicting research results about Otzi’s DNA has been published.

Industry vs. Academic Research [adaptivecomplexity's blog]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 11:42 AM CST

Industry-funded medical research - is it hopelessly biased or does it meet higher standards than academic research does?

John Tierney points to a new study from the International Journal of Obesity that finds industry-sponsored research in obesity tends to meet higher standards for data reporting than academic studies do.

But what does this mean? Does this study refute previous claims of industry bias? Does it mean academic clinical research is inherently of lower quality? Do we need to fund fewer academic scientists and more industrial ones?

read more

New SciFoo Lives On area in Second Life [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 11:23 AM CST

Another EDAR - hair thickness association study [Yann Klimentidis' Weblog]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 11:11 AM CST

A SNP in EDAR has been found to be associated with hair thickness among SE Asians and increased expression of this gene results in mice with thicker hair (via p-ter at GNXP). This study looks at the association among a Japanese sample and compare it to the Southeast Asian sample. Interestingly, there are considerable differences in hair thickness between Japanese and Southeast Asians:
"JPN individuals have more than 30% larger mean cross-sectional area (6,518 'units') than SEA (4,957 'units') and more than 50% larger than Africans (4,274 'units') and Caucasians (3,857 'units') (12)."
Since population origin also explains variation in hair thickness, the EDAR SNP "1540T/C by itself cannot explain all the differentiation of hair fiber thickness between JPN and SEA" and other genetic and environmental factors must be responsible.

They do a control for population stratification, but it would have been interesting to see a STRUCTURE output of their sample. I assume there wasn't that much stratification in terms of the 23 markers that they chose to look at (those with high 'JPN+CHN vs. the rest of the HapMap pops' differentiation)

A replication study confirmed the EDAR gene to be a major contributor to population differentiation regarding head hair thickness in Asia
Akihiro Fujimoto, Jun Ohashi, Nao Nishida, Taku Miyagawa, Yasuyuki Morishita, Tatsuhiko Tsunoda, Ryosuke Kimura and Katsushi Tokunaga
Human Genetics
V. 124, Number 2 / September, 2008
Abstract Hair morphology is a highly divergent phenotype among human populations. We recently reported that a nonsynonymous SNP in the ectodysplasin A receptor (EDAR 1540T/C) is associated with head hair fiber thickness in an ethnic group in Thailand (Thai-Mai) and an Indonesian population. However, these Southeast Asian populations are genetically and geographically close, and thus the genetic contribution of EDAR to hair morphological variation in the other Asian populations has remained unclear. In this study, we examined the association of 1540T/C with hair morphology in a Japanese population (Northeast Asian). As observed in our previous study, 1540T/C showed a significant association with hair cross-sectional area (P = 2.7 × 10−6) in Japanese. When all populations (Thai-Mai, Indonesian, and Japanese) were combined, the association of 1540T/C was stronger (P = 3.8 × 10−10) than those of age, sex, and population. These results indicate that EDAR is the genetic determinant of hair thickness as well as a strong contributor to hair fiber thickness variation among Asian populations.

Charles Darwin Reiterates Endorsement of Obama [The Tree of Life]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:57 AM CST

Charles Darwin has again spoken from the grave. In February I reported how Darwin endorsed Obama in the primary against Hilary Clinton (The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin Endorses Obama as the "Natural Selection") (note - his candidacy took off immediately after the 2/5 endorsement). And Darwin is getting in his own November surprise for the election tomorrow. Darwin spoke through a variety of media (I am using this term in reference to the plural of medium - people who speak to the dead .. but I am not sure whether media or mediums is the plural) and said
"This one is such a complete no brainer. Obama is so far and away the fitter candidate. Plus if Palin and McCain do not believe in my greatest work, well they can ..." (we cannot print the rest)
So there it is. Of course, most living well known scientists who have made public statements also endorse Obama, but getting Darwin's support is an extra feather in his cap.

Wikio Blog Ranking: November [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:53 AM CST

If you like blog rankings, you should check the new Wikio Blog Ranking out. Now readers can subscribe to our blogs easily and we can also download the whole list in OPML format.

How are these rankings compiled?

The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. These links are dynamic, which means that they are backlinks or links found within articles.

Moreover, the weight of a link depends on the linking blog's position in the Wikio ranking. With our algorithm, the weight of a link from a top blog is greater than that of a link from a blog that is less well ranked.

Our rankings also include Top Blogs for several categories: Technology, Politics, etc. New categories will be added on a regular basis. moved up to position #13!


Interview with Dr. Subrahmanyam Karuturi, the dotcom doctor [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:42 AM CST

I’ve recently written about, a site that collects all the important medical articles, images and videos for us and is being updated automatically. The founder of the site is Dr. Subrahmanyam Karuturi, the dotcom doctor, who kindly answered some of my questions. He is a good example how a doctor can use the tools of web 2.0 wisely and efficiently.

Please tell us more about a few websites that you have created. Which one is your favourite?

I am managing many websites as of now. Just to name a few, Doctors Hangout, Doctor.VG, Doctor World, Medical Cavity and Health Chapter. Each website has a mission of its own. Among them, I like Doctors Hangout the most.

You manage several sites. How and when did you get involved with the web 2.0 world?

I have a special interest in information technology. Web designing is my hobby. In my medical school life, I got fascinated by computers and internet which made me part of this Medical Web 2.0 World. I want to leave my foot print on Medical Web 2.0 World and so constantly think of new ideas which can add value to this World. I want to make this world a better place than when I came into it.

As a doctor, what do you think about the impact of web 2.0 on medicine and healthcare?

We are very much lucky to witness the revolution Internet has brought to medicine. It is changing the way we live, the way we communicate, the way we collaborate and the way we think. It is creating an air of excitement and curiosity among us. Internet is the biggest and greatest innovation of mankind. Medicine is described both as an art and science. In future, medicine will be described as a combination of art, science and technology. Web 2.0 will be inseparable from Medicine in the coming decades. We are going to witness new technology innovations in coming future which will change the foundations of healthcare industry.

Just imagine a group of monkeys. Monkeys can learn only from their parents and other group members. They can’t learn from other monkeys on another hill or another side of the world. They have to devise their own method of peeling a banana every generation. Doctors using tools like Doctors Hangout can communicate, share and learn medical knowledge by interacting with Doctors on the other side of the World. Thanks to Web 2.0 technologies for making this happen.

Which web 2.0 tools do you use in your practice or research?

  • RSS Feeds – I update myself with medical and technology world by subscribing to feeds of my interest through Google Reader. Nowadays, I am glancing at the medical world through Medical Cavity.
  • Social Bookmarking – I use Delicious to organize and tag my bookmarks. I use Doctor World to find some new exciting websites in the medical world.
  • Social Networking – I use Doctors Hangout, Orkut and Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. I share my medical knowledge, images and videos on Doctors Hangout regularly. I use Doctors Hangout to keep in touch with my professional colleagues and to get new professional contacts in the medical world.
  • Images – I use Flickr and DoctorsHangout Images to organize my medical images.
  • Videos – I use YouTube and DoctorsHangout Video to organize my medical videos.
  • Wiki – I regularly use Wikipedia and usually don’t trust information on it which has no references. Three other medical wikis to note are AskDrWiki, Ganfyd and Medpedia.
  • Forums – I use Doctor.VG to share and update my knowledge.
  • Search – I use Google as my primary search tool. I own a Nokia E90 mobile phone, which I use to find and research new topics during my hospital rounds. I use Opera web browser on my phone to search Google, PubMed and Google Scholar. I use Google Blog Search to search topics on my interest in the blogosphere.
  • Blog – I use Blogger for my blogging purposes. WordPress is an interesting alternative.
  • Documents – I use Google Docs to create and share my documents and presentations.
  • Virtual World – I use Second Life occasionally.

How do you select the sources you follow on

Most of the sources included in Medical Cavity are journals with highest impact factor and trusted health news sources. Most of the new source discovery comes from our readers.

Are you currently working on a new service or website? What are your plans for the near future?

Presently I have many projects yet to be launched. They are still in the incubation period as I am a little bit busy doing my residency in Internal Medicine.


Life is #1 [Mary Meets Dolly]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:35 AM CST

From my one of my favorites Faithmouse:

How Many Ways Can A Physician Be Sued (Over Genetic Tests)? [Eye on DNA]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:20 AM CST

gavelAmerican Medical News counts the ways in Judging genetic risks: Physicians often caught between what patients want and what science offers.

  1. Wrongful Birth/Life - Patients may sue physicians for not providing enough genetic testing or giving false negative test results.
  2. Pharmacogenomics - Patients may sue doctors for not ordering genetic testing before prescribing certain medications, such as Coumadin (warfarin)
  3. Negligent Medical Advice - Patients may sue a doctor who does not warn them of shared familial genetic risk of disease. Judges in a 2004 Minnesota Supreme Court case ruled that physicians had a duty to both patients and their biological family members to inform of them of genetic testing and diagnosis.
  4. Personal Beliefs Over Patient Rights - Physicians may not be able to claim “right-of-conscience” when it comes to denying patients genetic testing on the grounds of religious or moral beliefs.

Patients should also keep in mind that their physician may not be well-versed in genetics and is most probably not up-to-speed on the latest available genetic tests. Considering the complexity of genetics, can we expect busy doctors to keep abreast of the field? Perhaps one solution is to increase the number of genetic counselors available and making their services affordable and commonplace. On second thought, isn’t that what some direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies are aiming to do?

*Yes, I am affiliated with DNA Direct that offers pre- and post-test education and expert consultation on genetic tests.

Photo credit: Joe Gratz

Sanctity of Life Voter Guide [Mary Meets Dolly]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:15 AM CST

It seems I am not the only voter who is disappointed with the Republican nominee for President.  I went looking for a third party candidate and found Chuck Baldwin and so did Vision Forum Ministries:


Where to look for regulatory variants [Genetic Future]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 10:15 AM CST

One of the major challenges of the personal genomic era will be knowing exactly which (if any) of the millions of genetic variants present in your genome are likely to actually have an impact on your health. Such predictions are particularly problematic for regulatory variants - genetic changes that alter the expression levels of genes, rather than the sequence of the protein they encode. A paper out in PLoS Genetics this week goes some way towards solving this problem by giving researchers a much better idea of exactly where they need to look for these variants.

The paper
The paper draws on a previously published data-set consisting of the expression levels of over 14,000 genes in 210 human cell lines used for the HapMap project. The use of HapMap cell lines, which have publicly available information on over 3 million variable sites throughout their genomes, has made this data-set an exceptionally powerful resource for finding genetic variants that influence gene expression levels.

In this study the authors set out to determine exactly where these expression-altering variants mapped relative to the genes they affected. For simplicity they focused on expression-altering variants found within 500,000 bases of the gene itself (so-called cis variants); gene expression can also be altered by variants in much more distant regions, but these are much more difficult to identify in practice and are thought to be substantially less common.

The study involves some fairly detailed analysis, which you can read about yourself through the magic of open access - but here's the figure I think is the most interesting:

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Why the vast majority of Scientists are supporting the Democrats [The Daily Transcript]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 08:37 AM CST

OK this will hopefully be my last entry on the election -

From Seed's endorsement of Obama to the comments of various bloggers on ScienceBlogs and elsewhere it is obvious where most scientists stand on the political spectrum, but why?

Yes, it is true that most scientists I know are lefties in when compared to the American political landscape. Is it that surprising that those who pursue a career in discovering deeper truths also tend to be slightly idealistic? But these statements neglect a deeper truth, this being the fundamental problem with American conservatism in 2008. In the past 30 years scientists, and other professionals, have felt alienated from the GOP. The GOP has become griped by an ideology, that of free-market fundamentalism. As in all ideologies, this core belief has been very useful for the GOP's patrons - the rich, the multi-national corporations, the energy industry, and the subcontractors and their lobbyist friends who live in the wealthiest communities in America in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Scientists attempt to construct models that have predictive power in the world we live in. Consolidating theories with reality, that is our job. We examine data, make theories, come up with innovative methods to test our models. Sometimes we fight with each other over the interpretation or the methodology, often we fight with ourselves. We are well aware that ideas that have little predictive power are hard to let go. And to be honest it is not always clear whether we should kill our pet theory. It's a struggle that we need to deal with on a day-to-day basis. From Popper to Kuhn, all of the greatest science philosophers have dealt with this aspect of the scientific endeavor.

But when we scientists look at the Republican party what do we see?

We see an organization that constantly fights for its main ideals, regardless of the data, regardless of the consequences. When you hold a vast supply of financial power, as the GOP's patrons have, you would always want the freedom and justification to use this power as you see fit. You construct models where the ultra-free market leads to better lives for everyone. It's the answer to all our problems, whether we talk about education, health care, energy policy etc. But the historians will always be there to tell a different story. And the scientists will be there to warn of dire consequences. In fact academics, who have fought with each other for centuries to come to a certain consensus, will be there to point out the fallacies and follies of the current policy. But instead of dialogue, war was declared on those who try to understand how the world realy works.

This war has been waged using the following tactics:

1) Attack academics.

If a professional, be it a scientist, a doctor, a lawyer or any member of the academic establishment challenge their world view, the GOP responds with propaganda, deceit and disdain. That strategy is the root cause of their cherish mantra that elites should not tell the American public how to live their lives. Don't be fooled, what that statement actually means is don't trust those professionals who have spent all their lives investigating some topic, trust us and our ideologies. Of course the US has never really had a truly free market. Of course some freedom has always had have been sacrificed for the sake of security and equality. Of course the middle class was built by the MIXED-ECONOMY pioneered by FDR's policies. But that reading of history, is an inconvenient detail for the libertarians who control the GOP's fiscal policy.

2) Have your own academics.

The conservatives have established their own class of "professionals". They are the infamous "think tanks" that are funded by the GOP's patrons and staffed by mercenaries whose sole goal is to promote the right-wing ideological agenda. If some news organization needs expert opinion, they may ask some academic from John Hopkins or "for balance" some right-wing ideologue from the Cato institute. These act to spread their ideas (this activity is also know as propaganda) and to seed doubt into existing scientific consensus.

The members of the Discovery Institute provide an illuminating example of the Think Tank phenomenon. In order to advocate for intelligent design, the right-wingers have been able to call up "scientists" from the Discovery Institute. These "scientists" never publish in any peer-reviewed journal of any importance. In fact, I, a lonely postdoc have many more high impact peer reviewed articles then the entire Institute. Yet when ever some news source wants a "balanced" assessment of some important discovery that impacts evolution, the DI has plenty of "experts" on hand willing to be interviewed in order to provide an alternative interpretation.

What scientists see in the GOP is a culture that neglects professional opinions when constructing national policy, a political operation that seeks to poison our national discourse and an unbridled self-serving ideology that has led to economic turmoil and an uncertain future.

From free-markets, to health care policy, to education, to the war in Iraq, to global warming, Scientists look at the GOP and see a commitment to an idea, right-wing ideology, despite reality itself might be telling us. And this is why almost all scientists are voting against the GOP ticket this election cycle.

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Want to learn about genetics? Play with molecular modeling? I need volunteers [Discovering Biology in a Digital World]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 08:22 AM CST

Want to learn more about Parkinson's disease? See why a single nucleotide mutation messes up the function of a protein?

I have a short activity that uses Cn3D (a molecular viewing program from the NCBI) to look at a protein that seems to be involved in a rare form of Parkinson's disease and I could sure use beta testers.

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Medicine 2.0 Course Week 5: E-patients and medical communities [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 07:51 AM CST

This is the 6th week of my Medicine 2.0 university credit course and this week’s topic will be medicine in Second Life. But now I posted a few thoughts focusing on last week’s slideshows on the blog of the course.

The example with which I described how deeply patients are interested in the tools of web 2.0 was the video Kerri Morrone posted for us. Thank you, Kerri, students liked and understood the message.


Science of Spam [Sciencebase Science Blog]

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 06:00 AM CST

spam ethicsWho hasn’t received a spam email with some kind of clause laying claim to compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003? They usually say something about the message being anything but spam. But, it quickly becomes obvious, if you actually waste the time to read the content, that it is a generic marketing message for some kind of herbal remedy for enhancing one or other, or two, parts of your body, making you money, or offering an ugly gold-plated watch at a knock-down price.

Of course, the can-the-spam legislation was meant to squash spam forever, although by not making spam officially illegal across the globe, it did nothing of the sort. It was baloney, in a can. In fact, Petur Jonsson, the Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Finance, Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing at Fayetteville State University, in North Carolina argues that while CAN-SPAM may have stemmed the tide of traditional marketing spam, it did nothing to protect net users from the subsequent tsunami of malicious spam. The surge of phishing spam, scam spam, and messages bearing malware has washed over many of us time and again left many users beached and hung out to dry, digitally speaking, in its wake.

In 2002, when the Act was first proposed there were some 30 billion e-mail messages being sent across the globe every day, almost half of which were “unsolicited and unwanted” spam. The legacy accounts of many email users, my first ISP email account and work account included, had no filtering or spam protection and were drowned in hundreds of spam messages every day. Some pundits argued at the time that spam would become such a huge problem that it would herald the demise of email. This was at a time when people still worried that if someone’s email signature, their .sig file, was too big it was wasting bandwidth. Oh, the irony…

“The Act banned a variety of deceptive practices,” Jonsson says, but unfortunately, “it also pre-empted the passage of stricter state laws that would have outlawed spam altogether.” Some of the states, led by California, were at the time preparing anti-spam laws that would essentially have outlawed all unsolicited bulk email. But, the CAN-SPAM Act nipped these state efforts in the bud.

Some commentators have described spam as “information pollution”; it is simply the waste product of an industry marketing its product. And, while this is a reasonable analogy when discussing benign spam, it no longer applies to much of the bulk email flooding the net today.

In the last few years, spammers have exploited technological loopholes for malicious ends. Thousands if not millions of computers have been recruited without their owners knowledge into zombie networks or botnets that propagate malicious spam. Open proxies are harvested and their systems used to reroute email rendering it essentially untraceable, while open relays allowing email header spoofing to confuse spam filtering systems on a massive scale as well as allowing slice after slice of spam to be sent at zero cost to the spammer.

The bottom
is that
spam pays even
if just
one in ten
thousand recipients is scammed
The bottom line is that spam pays even if just one in ten thousand recipients is scammed, the spammers are then in profit when sending out millions of spam messages each day. Jonsson points out that the risk of being caught while phishing is smaller than the risk of getting caught peddling illegally imported bogus Viagra. This means phishing makes more sense. Spam is not just about annoyance it is about cybercrime on an enormous scale. The sooner the authorities recognize and respond to that fact the better for all of us.

Petur O. Jonsson (2009). The economics of spam and the context and aftermath of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, 2 (1), 40-52

Science of Spam

A brief review of recent ChIP-Seq tools literature []

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 02:50 AM CST

Seems I can't go a week without finding a paper describing a new ChIP-Seq analytical tool, so I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of a few of the most interesting papers in this area. For those not familiar with ChIP-Seq, it involves massively parallel sequencing of nucleic acids recovered from a chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP). ChIP uses an antibody to capture protein that has been previously crosslinked to DNA in its native state. Thus, ChIP-Seq allows sequencing of...

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Science and Spore. [Genomicron]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 09:26 AM CST

Tomorrow's issue of Science features a new installment of "The Gonzo Scientist" by writer John Bohannon. This edition is all about Spore, the game that is based on "evolution" from primordial ooze to interstellar society [Flunking Spore]. I had heard about the game on blogs, but I had not really planned to play it until John asked a few of us to give our perspective on the science behind it.

I can't say I didn't have fun with this, although it is a shame that the game bears little relation to actual evolution (see here for apparent claims otherwise).

Here's the creature Niles Eldredge and I came up with, dubbed Punky Quillibra:

You can read our review at the wiki that John made.



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