Mar 10, 2014 tdonut commented on A Polite Request for Showgoers to SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Oh, man! There were two under-thirties standing behind me at The Posies' show at Neumo's, yakking about MSFT stock prices and management promotions. They were really torqued that I told them to take it upstairs. Who the hell were they trying to impress?!?
Feb 8, 2013 tdonut commented on The Origin of the World Has a Head?.
Note to self -- no more reading Slog at work. Ever.
Oct 26, 2012 tdonut commented on Vote for Jesus!.
Ooh! Time to listen to Wilco sing 'Christ for President'. Thanks!
Jul 8, 2012 tdonut commented on The Sunday Morning News.
No, Barney Frank becomes the first gay-married member of congress. There have already been plenty of gay, married members of congress.
Jun 27, 2012 tdonut commented on Seattle's Best Christians.
a note to Riz Rollins: I hope that sooner rather than later you happen upon a real live church that gives you just what you crave. It won't be my church, but, man, I would love to visit it and to know it exists. Stay hungry!
Jun 7, 2012 tdonut commented on "Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father" Argument Pisses Off Straight Son of a Single Mom.

When he was quite young, my grandfather lost his father to a ball lightning strike. My great grandmother never remarried, in part because my grandfather was scary bright and ADHD. She told him later "I was afraid that if I married, any husband I had would beat you." I'm sure her resolve to stay single made a huge difference in the happiness of several succeeding generations.
May 11, 2012 tdonut commented on All I Have to Say About TIME Magazine.
Personally, I think changes in our population's imagination of eternal perfection are important, regardless of how well reality supports them.
May 3, 2012 tdonut commented on On Spontaneous Abortions.
@33 -- That does indeed sound beautiful. I am heartened to hear someone has seen such a thing happen.
May 3, 2012 tdonut commented on On Spontaneous Abortions.
@31 -- Yup.

And my point is that while death before breeding age is infallible, it is by no means the most powerful actor.

Imagining death gets people a lot more emotionally excited than imagining the difference between repeated generations having 2.0 or 2.05 children per female. Non-experts tend to get so focused on the former that they typically ignore the later, thus missing a huge part of the picture. To my mind, it's worth regularly turning people away from the death example in hopes of greater understanding of the topic as a whole.

Similarly, popular use of the term "survival of the fittest" has misled public discussion of evolution by encouraging people to think first of violent struggles between individuals, when cooperation at many different group size levels can be a huge component of fitness.

I'm convinced that a sizable proportion of those who "don't believe in evolution" don't believe, in part, because they think that means swearing allegiance to beating the tar out of each other on a regular basis. Talking about the wider range of subtler but powerful forces in play might help. (And yes, I know people are gonna continually beat the tar out of each other, but that's quite different than dedicating yourself to it.)
May 3, 2012 tdonut commented on On Spontaneous Abortions.
@27 -- the point is that over continued generations, a gene which results in a few percent more or fewer children has an incredible effect on the distribution of that gene (and those near it in the chromosome) in the population. Given the size of the human population, the social structures/interventions we have that folks decry as "disrupting selection" aren't terribly powerful. They would have to be held in place for much longer than any civilization (and thus its technology) has yet survived in order to keep the gene frequencies from reverting to what some would romanticize as the "natural" state of things.

When most people talk about "evolution", they're talking about their fantasies of what is "natural" and "good" and not about the actual math and science of what happens.

Sickle cell is a poor example. It is now believed that being heterozygous (one sickle cell gene copy, one normal) protects against malaria. Thus there is "selection pressure" to keep copies of the gene present in populations where there is malaria -- heterozygous individuals have greater breeding success (due to not dying of malaria) than those with two "good" copies. Treating the sick (two sickle cell gene copies) does indeed increase the number of sickle cell trait genes around, but the effect is transient -- if the cures are abandoned, the frequencies will slowly revert to a proportion that is correlated to the rate of malaria in the area.

Worrying about interventional activities distorting the gene frequencies of "bad" genes is like worrying about spilling salt in a sandstorm.