In the last 24 hours, 20 new users registered on the Fierce Roller blog (prior to yesterday, there were 15). Good news, right, expanding readership and all that? In the same 24 hours, there were 35 malicious login attempts, where the previous four weeks had seen 2. All of the new registrants are from a yahoo.com or .website address, and none of them bothered with a real name. I’m not sure why someone would bother hacking a blog that’s lucky to hit 200 views in a week, but that’s what seems to be happening.
Some time today, I will purge all of these new registrants. If you are a legitimate reader and you get caught up in this, the solution is simple: just email me and tell me you’re a real person.
Posts may be thin this week. I am preparing a talk for AbSciCon and a manuscript that’s due Monday. Saturday morning, I will board the Empire Builder in Whitefish for a 30-hour ride to Chicago (no doubt some of the manuscript will be written on the train).
Meanwhile, here’s a song about Chlamydomonas (skip to 1:05 if you don’t want to hear the intro).
[I invited Pierrick Bourrat to respond to my two posts about his new paper and to comments to those posts. He kindly agreed, and he provided the following guest post, which I have edited only for formatting.]
First of all, I would like to thank Matthew Herron for his interest in my work and his invitation to respond to his posts. Also, I would like to thank Rick Michod and Deborah Shelton for their comments.
I will respond to several issues pointed out both in the posts and the comments.
About the usefulness of the export of fitness view of ETI: I agree that it is a useful way of thinking about it, as long as it is used as a heuristic. This means that I am not inclined to think that building models with the assumption that the fitness of a cell would have been 0 had it been in an environment with not social partners will be able to explain in some deep sense ETIs (and even more so the origin of fitness at some level). In his comment to Matthew’s first post, Rick Michod claims that I somehow confuse realized fitness from a more counterfactual notion of fitness. Well, to be honest, I do not see how one could simulate (I do not mean ‘explain’) the evolution of a process if the variables in the model do not correspond to realized properties of the system. If I want to model a particular phenomenon, I ought to use variables and parameters that represent the target system and clearly, at least for me, this counterfactual notion of fitness does not represent any properties the cells have because they always have social partners. It is common to use expected rather than realized fitness in models, but this assumption is justified when we can assume that population are large and the environment is overall not fluctuating too much. With the counterfactual notion of fitness, aside from being useful for explaining the ETIs, I fail to see how it could be successfully integrated in models (by successfully, I mean how it could represent meaningfully the target system).
In response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the stimulus) Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain published a Stimulus Checkup in December, 2009. This pamphlet concludes that “…billions of dollars of stimulus funding have been wasted, mismanaged, or directed towards silly and shortsighted projects,” and, not surprisingly, many of the projects so identified are federally funded scientific studies. Number 35 in this list is an NSF grant to Dr. David Inouye and colleagues: