Fellow Iron Blogger Madeleing Price Ball is also a research scientist with Personal Genome Project (PGP). She recently put up a post about diversity in PGP. In short, they’re looking for more.

PG is a “self-recruiting” project. That is to say, “all participants have enrolled in our project through word of mouth, finding our website and enrolling online.” In short, educated white men who are interested in understanding their genes and don’t mind sharing. There is a test required to participate in PGP. This is good, because rather than just signing a waver, you are making it clear that you understand what you’re getting yourself into. This present another barrier for entry.

PGP is cool because they make their data publicly available. It’s under a CC0 license, which is CC’s answer to public domain. This data is helping science do what it’s supposed to: help us understand the world. Seriously. Scientific research can be unreasonably cutthroat and competitive. Things like this, the sharing of data, the public ownership of it, is a reminder that with science we’re trying to understand and interact with our world in new ways. More people can do more things with this vast bank of meaningless information and turn it into knowledge we can do real things with. A thousand researchers can do a lot more than ten, and with a thousand perspectives, we have the chance to learn so much more.

I’ve not participated in PGP yet. I think about it, but I’m not sure. Committing your genome to the public is a big deal. One of the things PGP is hoping to have is families participating. If mine decides to throw their genes into the ring, I’d happily swab my mouth and hand the saliva over.

*Ball, M.P. “Seeking Diversity.” Personal Genome Project Blog. November, 29, 2012.


At approximately the same time, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace created theories of evolution. Frequently, people who come up with the same, or similar, idea concurrently hate each other, privately and publicly. One of them becomes a hero and the other is forgotten.

MIT professor James Durant said the following on Darwin and Wallace:

Nonetheless, the way in which they handled their joint ownership of modern evolutionary theory was exemplary. They never, ever disputed each other’s priority to the theory, grumbled about the credit the other received for the discovery, [or] became embittered rivals.”


You pull in the white string in the waistband of my sweatpants, tightening and tying it so they stay on. Later, you pull them over your knotted hip bones and peel them away from your feet. When you’re gone, I undo the bow you made, and loosen the waistband, adding slack until they fit me as snugly as they fit you.


I am going to explain why undocumented workers are good. Most of this isn’t original, novel, or unavailable elsewhere on the web.

In the 2011 haze of heat and anti-immigration policies being passed and policed, Georgia rotted.* Americans needed jobs, so Georgia passed strict policies against undocumented workers. It turns out, people don’t want to work in 90 degree heat for less than 20k a year.**

Not all undocumented workers are just doing jobs American citizens refuse to–day labor, maids, janitors, non-artisan butchers and meat processors. Some are Pulitzer and Sydney Prize award winning journalists. Some of these people pay taxes.

If you don’t have a social security number, you can still be assigned an individual tax identification number. This is a number the IRS gives workers so they can still pay taxes. The IRS has made all sorts of charts that are reproduced on wikipedia showing rates of federal income tax. This money–and other money–disappears into the government system, and is never seen by those workers except for child tax credits.***

The Child Tax Credit is as much as $1,000 per “qualifying” child. That is a dependent under the age of 17 (so 16 year olds are the max). In MA, sales tax is 6.25%. It seems unlikely that someone would spend $16,000 on taxable purchases for their child (an undocumented worker at least). However, the USDA’s food cost estimates for a family of four (on a thrifty plan) is $548-629.10 monthly depending on age. For a family of two (on a thrift plan) it’s $376.60-357.30. Since these immigrants don’t qualify for food stamps, it’s fair to say that the $1000 is more than used in the cost of feeding a family. Hell, if you’re the head of a household making between $12,150 and $46,250 a year, your federal tax responsibility is $1,215.00 + 15%.

Additionally, if an employer is aware that a worker is undocumented, there’s this whole messy power balance thing going on where an employee has no ability to contest harsh workplace conditions, discrimination, illegal firing, and all those things that I know are there to back me. They can’t apply for unemployment if they lose their job. Hiring an undocumented worker is great for you.

In sort, these people are paying the US government for the privilege of living and working here, while receiving little of the government benefits us citizens have access to.

*This is a randomish link. An early hit on DuckDuckGo.
**Random website from duckduckgo.
***This is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. That means it’s legit, y’all.


After living with T, in Mongolia, and alongside Korean pop culture, I grew to love pop music. I am by no means an aficionado, but I am quite capable of singing along to One Direction, spitting out most of the words to some Nicki Minaj, and arguing about which of the Beibs’s songs is the best. (I actually think it might be Baby. The one he does with the little Smith boy from Karate Kid is also pretty cute.)

In order to share my love of pop music with some of my friends, I am putting together a Powerful Women of Pop Music dance mix.

Criteria, in order of importance

  • Sung by a woman (or women)
  • Danceable
  • Powerful voice
  • Empowering/not disempowering to women
  • In the Billboard Top 50 sometime over the past 10 years (album it’s from is also acceptable, but not preferable)
  • I know at least 30% of the words
  • Original song

Why these criteria?

  • Obviously, a powerful women of pop mix needs to be done by women
  • It’s a dance mix. Side note: “dance mix” in this case means “things I will dance to in my kitchen,” not things I expect to hear in da club.
  • The powerful voice was inspired by listening to Xtina. She’s all about the talented ladies with powerful voices. I think this fits well into pop music, but also fits in with this theme of “power” I want to put into the mix.
  • Jessie J, Xtina, and Kelly (Clarkson) have a lot of songs that are empowering to women. Sure, a lot of this empowerment is based around “I don’t -need- you, I’m strong/powerful/capable without you.” There is also lots of stuff about individual success and strength/competence on their own. Feeling good about yourself. I’m not going to even pretend that all these songs will be empowering, but my goal is to have none of them be disempowering. (My favorite danceable Jessie J is “Domino,” which is not as empowering as her songs about making it even when people say she can’t. Oh yeah, and Ke$ha is so in.)
  • Pop music. Okay, when I start making lists of music I like, I have a tendency to drift to not-Top 40 stuff pretty quickly. I might have a dance I do to Call Me Maybe, but most of what I listen to isn’t Top 40. (explain top 40 When I start just putting music I like–in general–into mixes, even music I like to dance to, it’s a lot less beaty than Top 40.
  • This is about sharing music I like with people. I need to know the songs.
  • Anyone can do a cover of House of the Rising Sun or Brown Eyed Girl or anything by a Beatle, but that’s not what a powerful pop woman should be known for singing. Even if she is.

I present lists:

Definite Songs (in no particular order)

  1. We R Who We R, Ke$ha
  2. Call Your Girlfriend, Robyn
  3. What Doesn’t Kill You, Kelly Clarkson
  4. Starships, Nicki Minaj
  5. Raise Your Glass, P!nk
  6. S&M, Rhianna
  7. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, Lady Gaga*
  8. Till The World Ends, Britney Spears
  9. Hot N Cold, Katy Perry
  10. Party in the USA, Miley Cyrus**
  11. Lady Marmalade, Christina, Lil’Kim, Mya, and P!nk***
  12. Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen

*I am not sold on this, but I want a Gaga song.

**There’s a very specific story about why this is included. Someone I know once blew out his speakers playing this at a party.

***This is a cover, but the super group overwhelmed my sensibilities.

Maybe Ladies (in no particular order)

  1. Jessie J
  2. Adele
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. Amy Winehouse
  5. Florence + the Machine

The list of Maybe Ladies are people I would like to include, but I can’t find the right song of theirs.