Episode-1931- Listener Feedback for 1-16-17 — 24 Comments

  1. Regarding gene silencing:

    Given the discussion of eugenics on the history segment, who’s to say gene silencing would be limited to agriculture. I can see the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries jumping on board with this with all guns blazing.

    “Don’t like the colour of your hair? Want your skin to be lighter? Buy this spray.”

    “We have a way of preventing your (cancer/lupis/insert disease of choice) with a spray.”

    And once we can turn genes on and off, who’s to say that you won’t be able to one day be able to prevent those “bad” genes from being propagated to the next generation? Or what side effects gene silencing might have.

    Scary stuff…

    • Regarding changing genes in human beings with a spray, there is a very libertarian-oriented scifi book entitled “Live Free or Die” by John Ringo. It is tongue in cheek but it presents libertarian ideals in a useful way.

      It is actually several stories, one of which involves these evil aliens that have decided that the human race needs some paring down, so they spray the whole globe with several DNA-altering nano machines. Most of them present simple obstacles designed to weed out people who are not taking normal care of themselves. Bathing should save you. A little alcohol for that cut, etc.

      But there is that one devastating alteration that threatens all of mankind. Anyone not blonde drops dead, and all blonde women suddenly become terribly interested in men once a month and they will produce multiple births.

      The punch line is…

      “Oh, no, no, no, no, nooo! Blondes in heat? Why couldn’t it have been mutant cyborgs?”

      I love that line.

      Alex Shrugged

    • Damn it shut up, you are going to give them ideas!

      You know what seriously that name is a very likely possibility.

  2. I will take a stab at the gene silencing argument. I think that it would be much less scary with more understanding. My background: I have a PhD in Biochemistry and worked with gene silencing and gene editing technology in bacteria. I have since left science to found a totally unrelated company. I am not involved with commercial agriculture but do grow a significant portion of my food in my garden without any sprays or synthetic fertilizer.

    This technology works by binding to a specific sequence in the virus, bacteria or insect and stopping the process for making a specific protein. Quick tutorial: DNA sequence is copied to make an single stranded RNA molecule. The RNA sequence is then translated into a protein sequence. RNA interference works in basically the same way as noise cancelling. A sequence is chosen that is within an important RNA molecule and a bunch of RNA molecules are created that is an exact complement to that sequence. This causes the RNA molecule to no longer be able to be translated into a protein. If this protein is really important, the virus/bacterium/insect dies. This process is going on in your body as we speak; there have been over 1000 such interfering RNA genes found in the human genome.

    OK, so as long as the organism is capable of taking in these RNA molecules AND the sequence matches to its genes then it will work on that organism. About your worries of off target effects: advances of DNA sequencing technology have allowed for almost all of life to be sequenced. Scientists have even sequenced soil, ocean water etc to get the DNA sequences of organisms that had never been identified before. Genomes are both really big and really diverse. You can easily pick a sequence that would both be lethal to the target organism or organisms but have a negligible affect on any other life form.

    Compare this to insecticides which have broad activity to insects and also make humans and animals sick. If implemented correctly, RNA silencing technology is way safer, period. Can someone implement it incorrectly and kill off some microbe? Of course, but that is true of almost every technology. Pesticides could be incorrectly diluted or sprayed over an apiary with catastrophic results but they are still legal and used everywhere.

    Why is this a good thing, even for organic farming? Farmers could, in theory protect their crops from any disease or pest almost as if squishing them. Squash borers, tomato wilt viruses, etc could be controlled without impacting any other organism. Farmers would have higher yield and less chance of crop failure. Do I think that this will be embraced by organic farmers? Of course not, it will be lumped together with genetic modification (which I have my own opinions on) and rejected out of hand.

    That said, it will have a positive impact on organic farming even without organic farmers using it. Industrial agriculture could use RNA silencing to control the specific pests on their crops, boosting diversity of organisms that would normally be killed by pesticides. Also, this technology doesn’t rely on any genetic modification. There is no chance of cross pollination across fence lines. These molecules break down in the span of weeks, way better than pesticides so farmers don’t have to worry what is in their irrigation or drinking water.

    There are my two cents. Like automation, this technology is coming. Gene editing and gene silencing will have a bigger impact on our lives than antibiotics did 100 years ago. Get ready for it.

  3. I don’t know about any of you, but I find this Silencing Spray highly offensive!


    • “could be controlled without impacting any other organism” is the operative part of the argument against it. You cannot control nature or bend her at your will and guarantee there will not be unintended consequence. What if there are mutations or autoimmune type responses in the environment? Nature is too complex for people to be running a few isolated experiments and emphatically rolling out environmental changes. Nature is way too complex and the risks are too great. Its kind of like government, roll out a program or bureaucracy to make up the other previous crappy program. Monocrop, Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers, I would say was crappy programs. What is to say that gene silencing would be anything other than a bad program to make up for something that already works. The angle is scientist have to monetize (sell it) their research in order keep their jobs. Buyer beware. Nature is the most efficient at adapting and proving your ass (science community) wrong. #freenature

      • Indeed the surgical silencing of a gene is good science and may save lives. You ID a gene in a person known to lead to cancer, you switch it off. I mean if that can be done without harming them, it is worth a shot, specifically if they already got cancer and have a high risk of recurrence.

        Spraying this shit like water on a field is the very definition of idiocy.

  4. The part about unexpected positive physical action reminds me of Kel-Tec. Looking at their products circa 2000, nothing special, just a smallish 9mm of dubious quality and an underpowered pocket peashooter. But a funny thing happened: people started sharing info online about how to make the darn things work right. They made their own mods to improve ergonomics. Then they started shooting the spitwads at homemade ballistics gel out in the desert to quantify actual ballistics performance. (This is commonplace now but at the time it was downright weird.) Fast forward to today; Ruger and SCCY are openly making copies of those early Kel-Tec products. Unexpected positive physical action…

  5. “seeing more problems from little bitches”:
    I think that this is a direct result of societies pussification of the males.
    What happens when you don’t have a rooster in the flock?
    Many times one of the dominant hens will assume the position of the rooster.
    We are animals after all but don’t like to think that we are. Rejecting that truth out of arrogance is causing more problems than we know.

    • Very astute observation, I am sure it would bring the wrath of SJWs if you explained it to them that way.

    • FYI, In the 1930’s Albert Einstein escaped Nazi abuse and fled to the USA where he will stay to the end of his days, but he did complain that American men were overly solicitous to women. He thought men should rule the roost so to speak.

      It’s science! 🙂

      Don’t listen to Einstein. He couldn’t hold a marriage together with bailing wire.

      Alex Shrugged.

  6. Jack,

    With all due respect, I think you got the student loan thing wrong. The End Game is Free Money for Everyone. Grandma / Grandpa are not going to be paying back the student loans. Just like the kids that take on loans these days are not going to pay them back.

    If you work for a government or not for profit after 120 qualifying payments the loan balance is forgiven under Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. (Beware: don’t choose the 10 year pay back otherwise their will not be a balance to forgive)

    An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size.

    income-driven repayment plans:
    • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan)
    • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan)

    If you are on the REPAYE Plan, you only have to make payments which are generally 10% of discretionary income. So what is discretionary income? (They use your AGI to determine that look on your tax return).

    You can run the numbers.

    After 20 years (undergraduate loans) or 25 years (graduate loans) on the repayment plan your loans are forgiven. If Grandma and Grandpa don’t make it to loan forgiveness and expire they don’t have to be burden with any worry at all. If you die they discharge the loan.

    The only real risk is if you actually think you will make taxable money. Then this is not for you. But if Grandma or Grandpa is on Social Security and do not have other income than why not get a loan that they will never have to pay back. The government cannot (should not) discriminate, right. Everyone get qualified for free Govt money! Government doesn’t care if you will pay it back.

    If you have reached your earning potential and are on a fixed income, if you want a little extra spending money (for the cost of going to school ;), if you itemize your taxes just right with business expenses , and if you are willing to wait it out. You will never have to pay back any of the student loan money. That is how the game is played.

    Jack do you think people who got trapped by the education system and student loans should go ahead and sign up for the income based repayment plan? The interest will continue to compound if the loan is not being payed but if you think you can manage your income and grow a business or some way to avoid a higher AGI for 20 to 25 years (most your adult life) than that money is forgiven. What are some other pitfalls you think government will play with this student loan debacle?

    • I just want to clarify my position. I don’t think that federally backed student loans are a good idea at all. Government’s involvement is what threw college tuition all out of whack. But if the Government programs are available, and people have a sense that the program will help them, people will use the programs.

      Yes, I do have student loans. I have been paying them back for several years, $300 a month, every month. (A few weeks ago I found they changed the loan program last year).

      2003 I was married with kid (baby girl) out of the Military. When I got out I was faced with military experience that was not very marketable. I used GI Bill to get an undergrad degree in business (2007 graduated). Got A nice Job as a Regional Sales Manager for a Tecom Mfg. in North Texas. Times were good and my family was growing (it’s a boy! ). November 2008 Obama was elected and the very next day I got the pink slip. (Unemployment check went to pay for Cobra to keep my health insurance. High deductible plan killed us over $10K. co-pay not included in what I was paying for a premium. story for another day). Economy was rough and I didn’t have any real prospects.

      I had a little benefit remaining on the GI Bill (converted to post 9/11), so I went to Graduate school. I got a temporary (student) job with the government (appx pay $28K). (family still growing its another boy!) I applied for another developmental position in the same org. I interviewed but did not meet the requirements. I needed to take more graduate classes to get the position and was offered the position contingent the graduate classes were completed. The GI Bill ran out quickly after I started the program so the natural option was to borrow against my future earnings (student loans).

      I finally completed my degree and have moved up in the Govt. and finally making what I was in 2007 at the Regional Sales manager position. But I have a government job that is killing me (mentally and physically).

      Irony. Government gets involved in mortgage lending, creates a bubble. Housing bubble pops. I use government student loans to get secure government job because of the bad economy. Government Student loans create another bubble. Government spending threatens going concern of government. I am bound by the security of government but government is not secure. Did I contribute to my own demise? Sorry. Ouch. These are some tough pills to swallow.

      • All well and good, I meant the part where you stated that eventually all will just be forgiven and no grandmaws will be paying via garnished SSI.

        • You may be right. I should not have made such an absolute statement. Just now I was going to say I have no idea what our government is capable of. But that would be untrue, I do and it’s scary. I need to qualify my statements that I wrote. I have not researched enough to see if there are provisions in the student loan agreement for those who are on social security or in a retired status which would limit or prevent people to participate in the loan “forgiveness” programs. I do not know peoples situations and if the program would benefit them or harm them. Most importantly I cannot predict the future of anyone’s circumstances with absolute certainty. In fact, everyone should be very skeptical with any unsolicited interactions. My intent was to shine some light on the program and maybe people can make an informed decision or determine what it means to them.

          I just thought it was strange how I missed any big hoopla over such a significant change in program considering hype about the student loan bubble. I would think there would be a big marketing push or something from Dept Ed. I may be wrong and have just missed the blitz or maybe it’s not important to the grand scheme. Is this a scheme to deflate the bubble quietly? Is it an opportunity? I really don’t know. And I don’t know why they are doing what they are doing.

          In addition, we are all subject to abuse of corrupt bureaucracy and how they interpret and define the laws, rules, and regulations they conger up for us but seem to be largely immune. Because of the decisions of others in how they handled the affairs of our country, I will not get to benefit from Social Security in an equitable manner and countless other promises that are or will be broken. Don’t get me wrong I’m okay with them dissolving government programs like social security. It’s unlikely to happen in a manner that is productive or at least less destructive versus the most likely response reactive and wildly destructive. I know the things that we value and cherish can be taken at the whim of tyrants.

          Jack. Sorry if this seems like a rant. You have been a beacon of awareness and hope. Please keep up the good work.

  7. I guess the only problem is that national debt and stealing private property thing. Ouch sorry! But can it still be justified for the greater good? If I was tricked into the loan but I still benefited should I feel the moral obligation to honestly pay it back even if other citizens don’t? maybe because I am better educated I create more value in society so I shouldn’t feel bad that society is burden with my cost of education, right? Or maybe I have a higher obligation to gather and retain resources for the family unit and paying student loans are against that objective? Tough one.

  8. As a young person the student loan game. Start up and/or work for a non-for profit for 10 years. Get experience wipe the slate clean. Then start making your $. (Warning: if you take my advice you do so at your own risk. I accept no liability for anything I do or say).

    • Maybe my wording is off. It is not advice but more of a PSA. I would not advocate trying to Game the system, even if I think others will game the system. Dancing with the devil is tricky business. But if you are already stuck with the loans this could be an option. (Don’t listen to crazy people, unless they are right!) Thank you Jack.

  9. Am I the only one that cracked up when Jack said Holy Shit Balls at 1:19? I lost it while sitting here in my cubicle.

  10. Follow your passion even when most people are against you. It seems like an uphill battle sometimes. No I’m not a snowflake, but for some reason the things I’m passionate about, many including family members are against and even some here on the TSP. Personally I say follow your passion and strengthen your convictions even in the face of negativity. Limit your exposure to the negativity by surrounding yourself by people that agree with you. Though don’t ever give up on those negative people. Ignorant people are not necessarily stupid, they just don’t see things in the same light as you.

    I for one, will not give up and challenge all TSP’rs to do the same. Follow your passion.

  11. Bullying – part of the blame, besides the school’s zero tolerance policy, and staff ignoring stuff which goes on is parents.

    A neighbor with a pool found one boy holding another underwater and laughing, she made him leave and talked the the parent. The parent was insulted that we would even think her son would do such a thing. Quit picking on her son. So her son was banned from my neighbor’s yard. Mom was very upset at the “unfairness” of it all.

    A neighbor’s boy took one of my son’s bikes and crashed it down a driveway repeatedly. I talked the the mom, she told me it was because her son didn’t have anything to ride as he tore up his new bike. Her solution was to go out the next day and buy him something else to ride!!! Thus she was teaching him it is ok to tear up your stuff and when you tear up someone else’s stuff your mom will buy you something new.

    One neighbor girl asked another neighbor for a coke, after taking a few sips she dumped the rest on the floor of his garage. Why did you do that? Because I changed my mind and didn’t want any more. Why did you make that mess? That is what you do with stuff when you don’t want it anymore. She was banned from his yard for a couple weeks and never got another coke.

    A few of us parents got together to discuss this lack of parenting by other parents, we decided each others homes were safe for our kids to play, other kids could come over and play too, but all kids had to follow the rules of each yard and no picking on anyone, we kept them playing outside for the most part, so if any parent wanted to see what their kids were doing, just come over and look. Breaking rules resulted in a ban from that yard, it may be just a day or longer, involved a sincere apology, depending on what happened, some kids never apologized. We understood someone had to teach these kids how they should behave, and it seemed to work.

    But there is a serious problem among some parents who don’t parent but expect the neighborhood, schools, etc to handle such. A 2nd grader who came over to play as we were leaving the house, what will I do? where will I go? my parents won’t get back for a couple hours and I’m afraid of my stepbrothers. My parents said just find someone who is home and play with their kids until we get back so the step brothers won’t bother me. (I didn’t leave that day but did have a talk with those parents when they got back)