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The One Guy You Don’t Want Turning Around

The Fett

Most things don’t bother the Fett.

Including you.

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What Eight Million Women Want (1910)

For the audacity of the title of this book I offer no apology. I have had it pointed out, not altogether facetiously, that it is impossible to determine with accuracy what one woman, much less what any number of women, wants. I sympathize with the first half of the tradition. The desires, that is to say, the ideals, of an individual, man or woman, are not always easy to determine. The individual is complex and exceedingly prone to variation. The mass alone is consistent. The ideals of the mass of women are wrapped in mystery simply because no one has cared enough about them to inquire what they are.

Men, ardently, eternally, interested in Woman—one woman at a time—are almost never even faintly interested in women. Strangely, deliberately ignorant of women, they argue that their ignorance is justified by an innate unknowableness of the sex.

I am persuaded that the time is at hand when this sentimental, half contemptuous attitude of half the population towards the other half will have to be abandoned. I believe that the time has arrived when self-interest, if other motive be lacking, will compel society to examine the ideals of women. In support of this opinion I ask you to consider three facts, each one of which is so patent that it requires no argument.

The Census of 1900 reported nearly six million women in the United States engaged in wage earning outside their homes. Between 1890 and 1900 the number of women in industry increased faster than the number of men in industry. It increased faster than the birth rate. The number of women wage earners at the present date can only be estimated. Nine million would be a conservative guess. Nine million women who have forsaken the traditions of the hearth and are competing with men in the world of paid labor, means that women are rapidly passing from the domestic control of their fathers and their husbands. Surely this is the most important economic fact in the world to-day.

Within the past twenty years no less than nine hundred and fifty-four thousand divorces have been granted in the United States. Two thirds of these divorces were granted to aggrieved wives. In spite of the anathemas of the church, in the face of tradition and early precept, in defiance of social ostracism, accepting, in the vast majority of cases, the responsibility of self support, more than six hundred thousand women, in the short space of twenty years, repudiated the burden of uncongenial marriage. Without any doubt this is the most important social fact we have had to face since the slavery question was settled.

Not only in the United States, but in every constitutional country in the world the movement towards admitting women to full political equality with men is gathering strength. In half a dozen countries women are already completely enfranchised. In England the opposition is seeking terms of surrender. In the United States the stoutest enemy of the movement acknowledges that woman suffrage is ultimately inevitable. The voting strength of the world is about to be doubled, and the new element is absolutely an unknown quantity. Does any one question that this is the most important political fact the modern world has ever faced?

I have asked you to consider three facts, but in reality they are but three manifestations of one fact, to my mind the most important human fact society has yet encountered. Women have ceased to exist as a subsidiary class in the community. They are no longer wholly dependent, economically, intellectually, and spiritually, on a ruling class of men. They look on life with the eyes of reasoning adults, where once they regarded it as trusting children. Women now form a new social group, separate, and to a degree homogeneous. Already they have evolved a group opinion and a group ideal.

And this brings me to my reason for believing that society will soon be compelled to make a serious survey of the opinions and ideals of women. As far as these have found collective expressions, it is evident that they differ very radically from accepted opinions and ideals of men. As a matter of fact, it is inevitable that this should be so. Back of the differences between the masculine and the feminine ideal lie centuries of different habits, different duties, different ambitions, different opportunities, different rewards.

I shall not here attempt to outline what the differences have been or why they have existed. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in Women and Economics, did this before me,—did it so well that it need never be done again. I merely wish to point out that different habits of action necessarily result, after long centuries, in different habits of thought. Men, accustomed to habits of strife, pursuit of material gains, immediate and tangible rewards, have come to believe that strife is not only inevitable but desirable; that material gain and visible reward are alone worth coveting. In this commercial age strife means business competition, reward means money. Man, in the aggregate, thinks in terms of money profit and money loss, and try as he will, he cannot yet think in any other terms.

I have in mind a certain rich young man, who, when he is not superintending the work of his cotton mills in Virginia, is giving his time to settlement work in the city of Washington. The rich young man is devoted to the settlement. One day he confided to a guest of the house, a social worker of note, that he wished he might dedicate his entire life to philanthropy.

“There is much about a commercial career that is depressing to a sympathetic nature,” he declared. “For example, it constantly depresses me to observe the effect of the cotton mills on the girls in my employ. They come in from the country, fresh, blooming, and eager to work. Within a few months perhaps they are pale, anaemic, listless. Not infrequently a young girl contracts tuberculosis and dies before one realizes that she is ill. It wrings the heart to see it.”

“I suspect,” said the visitor, “that there is something wrong with your mills. Are you sure that they are sufficiently well ventilated?”

“They are as well ventilated as we can have them,” said the rich young man. “Of course we cannot keep the windows open.”

“Why not?” persisted the visitor.

“Because in our mills we spin both black and white yarn, and if the windows were kept open the lint from the black yarn would blow on the white yarn and ruin it.”

A quick vision rose before the visitor’s consciousness, of a mill room, noisy with clacking machinery, reeking with the mingled odors of perspiration and warm oil, obscure with flying cotton flakes which covered the forms of the workers like snow and choked in their throats like desert sand.

“But,” she exclaimed, “you can have two rooms, one for the white yarn and the other for the black.”

The rich young man shook his head with the air of one who goes away exceedingly sorrowful.

“No,” he replied, “we can’t. The business won’t stand it.”

This story presents in miniature the social attitude of the majority of men. They cannot be held entirely responsible. Their minds automatically function just that way. They have high and generous impulses, their hearts are susceptible to tenderest pity, they often possess the vision of brotherhood and human kinship, but habit, long habit, always intervenes in time to save the business from loss of a few dollars profit.

Three years ago Chicago was on the eve of one of its periodical “vice crusades,” of which more later. Sensational stories had been published in several newspapers, to the effect that no fewer than five thousand Jewish girls were leading lives of shame in the city, a statement which was received with horror by the Jewish population of Chicago. A meeting of wealthy and influential men and women was called in the law library of a well known jurist and philanthropist. Representatives from various social settlements in Jewish quarters of the town were invited, and it was as a guest of one of these settlements that I was privileged to be present.

Eloquent addresses were made and an elaborate plan for investigation and relief was outlined. Finally it came to a point where ways and means had to be considered. The presiding officer put this phase of the matter to the conference with smiling frankness. “You must realize, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “that we have entered upon an extensive and, I am afraid, a very expensive campaign.”

At this a middle aged and notably dignified man arose and said with emotion trembling in his voice: “Mr. Chairman, and ladies and gentlemen of the conference, this surely is no time for us to think of economy of expenditure. If the daughters of Israel are losing their ancient dower of purity, the sons of Israel should be willing, nay, eager to ransom them at any cost. Permit me, as a privileged honor which I value highly, to offer, as a contribution towards the preliminary expenses of this campaign, my check for ten thousand dollars.”

He sat down to that polite little murmur of applause which goes round the room, and I whispered to the head resident of the settlement of which I was a guest, an inquiry as to the identity of the generous donor.

“That gentleman,” she whispered in reply, “is one of the owners of a great mail order department store in Chicago.” She sighed deeply, as she added: “During the first week of the panic that store discharged, without warning, five hundred girls.”

These typical examples of the reasoning processes of men are offered without the slightest rancor. They had to be given in order that the woman’s habit of thought might be explained with clearness.

Women, since society became an organized body, have been engaged in the rearing, as well as the bearing of children. They have made the home, they have cared for the sick, ministered to the aged, and given to the poor. The universal destiny of the mass of women trained them to feed and clothe, to invent, manufacture, build, repair, contrive, conserve, economize. They lived lives of constant service, within the narrow confines of a home. Their labor was given to those they loved, and the reward they looked for was purely a spiritual reward.

A thousand generations of service, unpaid, loving, intimate, must have left the strongest kind of a mental habit in its wake. Women, when they emerged from the seclusion of their homes and began to mingle in the world procession, when they were thrown on their own financial responsibility, found themselves willy nilly in the ranks of the producers, the wage earners; when the enlightenment of education was no longer denied them, when their responsibilities ceased to be entirely domestic and became somewhat social, when, in a word, women began to think, they naturally thought in human terms. They couldn’t have thought otherwise if they had tried.

They might have learned, it is true. In certain circumstances women might have been persuaded to adopt the commercial habit of thought. But the circumstances were exactly propitious for the encouragement of the old-time woman habit of service. The modern thinking, planning, self-governing, educated woman came into a world which is losing faith in the commercial ideal, and is endeavoring to substitute in its place a social ideal. She came into a generation which is reaching passionate hands towards democracy. She became one with a nation which is weary of wars and hatreds, impatient with greed and privilege, sickened of poverty, disease, and social injustice. The modern, free-functioning woman accepted without the slightest difficulty these new ideals of democracy and social service. Where men could do little more than theorize in these matters, women were able easily and effectively to act.

I hope that I shall not be suspected of ascribing to women any ingrained or fundamental moral superiority to men. Women are not better than men. The mantle of moral superiority forced upon them as a substitute for intellectual equality they accepted, because they could not help themselves. They dropped it as soon as the substitute was no longer necessary.

That the mass of women are invariably found on the side of the new ideals is no evidence of their moral superiority to men; it is merely evidence of their intellectual youth.

Visitors from western cities and towns are often amazed, and vastly amused, to find in New York and other eastern cities little narrow-gauge street car lines, where gaunt horses haul the shabbiest of cars over the oldest and roughest of road beds. The Westerner declares that nowhere in the East does he find surface cars that equal in comfort and elegance the cars recently installed in his Michigan or Nebraska or Washington home town.

“Recently installed.” There you have it.

The eastern city retains its horse cars and its out-of-date electric rolling stock because it has them, and because there are all sorts of difficulties in the way of replacing them. Old franchises have to expire or otherwise be got rid of; corporations have to be coaxed or coerced; greed and corruption often have to be overcome; huge sums of money have to be appropriated; a whole machinery of municipal government has to be set in motion before the old and established city can change its traction system.

The new western town goes on foot until it attains to a certain size and a sufficient prosperity. Then it installs electric railways, and of course it purchases the newest and most modern of the available models.

New social ideals are difficult for men to acquire in a practical way because their minds are filled with old traditions, inherited memories, outworn theories of law, government, and social control. They cannot get rid of these at once. They have used them so long, have found them so convenient, so satisfactory, that even when you show them something admittedly better; they are able only partially to comprehend and to accept.

Women, on the other hand, have very few antiques to get rid of. Until recently their minds, scantily furnished with a few personal preferences and personal prejudices, were entirely bare of community ideals or any social theory. When they found themselves in need of a social theory it was only natural that they should choose the most modern, the most progressive, the most idealistic. They made their choice unconsciously, and they began the application of their new-found theory almost automatically. The machinery they employed was the long derided, misconceived, and unappreciated Women’s Club.

From Gutenberg: What 8 Million Women Want

Human Genomics: Cracking the Regulatory Code

A collection of papers catalogues the associations between genetic variation and gene expression in healthy tissues – the largest analysis of this kind so far.

How does the same DNA sequence, present in almost every cell in the body, give rise to diverse tissues that have distinct functions? The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Consortium aims to answer this question by using a strategy called expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping. This technique allows the researchers to generate a comprehensive catalogue of associations between genetic variation and gene expression across many tissues in many individuals. In four papers in this issue, the consortium presents the second phase of their project, and the largest survey of this type so far.

Over the past two decades, considerable progress has been made towards understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the dynamic gene-regulatory programs that direct development, differentiation and function in specific cell types. The outstanding challenge is to understand, and ultimately to predict, how genetic differences between individuals contribute to specific traits, including susceptibility to disease.

A large body of work5 shows that genetic variants that drive inter-individual differences in complex traits, including disease, are often found in non-protein-coding regions of the genome that might determine how and when genes are expressed. As a result, biologists have set out to catalogue and understand how genetic variation in both coding and non-coding regions affects dynamic and tissue-specific gene-expression programs. The GTEx project, established in 2010, represents a coordinated attempt to achieve this goal.

In 2015, the GTEx Consortium described a pilot study in which gene-expression data from multiple tissues were collected from 237 recently deceased donors. The current iteration of the project involves substantially more samples — a total of 7,051 from 449 individuals (Fig. 1). The consortium combined gene-expression measurements from 44 tissues with nucleotide information from each person taken from about 12.5 million DNA bases known to vary between individuals. This involved a concerted collaborative effort to overcome the ethical, legal and technical challenges associated with obtaining post-mortem samples on a large scale.

In the first paper (page 204), the consortium took advantage of its large data set to show that the expression of almost all genes in the human genome is affected by genetic variation. Most of the variants that affect gene expression are located within a few kilobases of the affected gene, and are dubbed cis-eQTLs. These variants are typically located in regions of genetic sequence that modify the regulation of only one of a person’s two copies of the affected gene — for example in regulatory elements called promoters, enhancers and repressors. The consortium also identified several hundred trans-eQTLs, which affect the expression of genes that are located farther away, or even on a different chromosome. These variants typically alter the regulation of both copies of a gene, for example because they encode transcription factors or small RNAs.

The authors showed that cis-eQTLs tend to alter gene expression in most tissues examined. By contrast, trans-eQTLs generally seem to affect expression in just one or very few tissues. Many of the variants tested had previously been found to be associated with complex diseases and, interestingly, the consortium found that about half of these were associated with altered gene expression in some of the tissues that they tested. This observation demonstrates the usefulness of large eQTL studies for identifying genes and pathways affected by disease-associated genetic variation.

In the second paper (page 239), the authors extended their analyses to specifically examine the effects of rare variants on gene expression. Every individual has tens of thousands of rare non-coding variants, which are often ignored in a clinical context and in disease studies. These variants are also not typically considered in eQTL analyses, which focus on common genetic variation. The authors present a statistical method that integrates DNA-sequence and gene-expression data from the same individual. Their findings underscore the importance of rare variation in determining gene expression. Their statistical approach could ultimately be used to predict which DNA variants in individual genomes cause cellular changes that lead to disease.

In the third and fourth papers (pages 244 and 249, respectively), the consortium combined its GTEx data with other data sets to investigate how variants associated with altered gene expression can regulate two phenomena — RNA-editing processes3 and X-chromosome inactivation.

In addition to the results presented, the GTEx project has provided a valuable resource for the community, making its raw data available in the dbGaP database (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap), and processed data available in an interactive website (www.gtexportal.org). The sample collection, quality control, data standardization and organization of the project are perhaps no longer cutting-edge, because the study was conducted over several years. Nonetheless, these aspects of the work are more thorough than is typical for large consortium projects, so the data can be readily interrogated by other researchers to address specific questions using more-nuanced analyses.

As the GTEx project moves forward and examines more people, it will be necessary to consider three main challenges. First, although the consortium identified almost 1 million genetic variants associated with differences in gene expression, it could be that most don’t directly cause gene-expression differences. DNA variants are often correlated across the genome, passed down together from one generation to the next. This means that, in addition to the causal variant for any given trait, numerous related, non-causal associations can be found. Therefore, some causal variants might not yet have been identified by the consortium. A complete genome sequence from each individual will be needed to identify all these associated variants, and should be used alongside new methods to predict the causal variant. The ability to manipulate genetic variants using CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing and to analyse any subsequent changes in gene expression, as the authors do in a handful of cases, should also allow researchers to determine causal genetic variation.

Second, although the GTEx analyses represent the most comprehensive tissue set catalogued so far, all tissues consist of many cell types, which probably contributes to the observed variation in gene expression. Testing for genetic effects on gene expression at a higher resolution in individual cells using single-cell processing technologies will help to distil the signal.

Third, to move beyond descriptive work to an understanding of the actual mechanisms that underlie gene-regulatory programs, multiple functional genomic assays that profile factors affecting gene expression (for example, chromosome accessibility, transcription-factor binding and the modification of DNA by methyl groups) should be performed in the same cells. Genetic variants can affect aspects of the gene-regulatory cascade other than levels of RNA, and these should also be examined. The rate of gene transcription, the mechanism of RNA processing and the rate of translation are three such examples. Some of these aspects of gene regulation will be examined by the ongoing ‘Enhancing GTEx’ project, as outlined in a Commentary published in Nature Genetics.

But for many of these dynamic experiments, frozen tissue samples, such as those used in the current study, might not be optimal. Future efforts could use stem-cell models, or study differentiated cells in vitro as a complement to generating data from frozen tissue.

Nonetheless, the extensive catalogue generated by the GTEx Consortium takes us a step closer to decoding the regulatory code of the genome. The consequences of genetic variation on gene expression are gradually becoming clearer.

Original article: DNA: Cracking the Regulatory Code