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EPA to Tighten Limits on Science Used to Write Public Health RulesWASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study's conclusions. EPA officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently."We are committed to the highest quality science," Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, told a congressional committee in September. "Good science is science that can be replicated and independently validated, science that can hold up to scrutiny. That is why we're moving forward to ensure that the science supporting agency decisions is transparent and available for evaluation by the public and stakeholders."The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place."This means the EPA can justify rolling back rules or failing to update rules based on the best information to protect public health and the environment, which means more dirty air and more premature deaths," said Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association.Public health experts warned that studies that have been used for decades -- to show, for example, that mercury from power plants impairs brain development, or that lead in paint dust is tied to behavioral disorders in children -- might be inadmissible when existing regulations come up for renewal.For instance, a groundbreaking 1993 Harvard University project that definitively linked polluted air to premature deaths, currently the foundation of the nation's air-quality laws, could become inadmissible. When gathering data for their research, known as the Six Cities study, scientists signed confidentiality agreements to track the private medical and occupational histories of more than 22,000 people in six cities. They combined that personal data with home air-quality data to study the link between chronic exposure to air pollution and mortality.But the fossil fuel industry and some Republican lawmakers have long criticized the analysis and a similar study by the American Cancer Society, saying the underlying data sets of both were never made public, preventing independent analysis of the conclusions.The change is part of a broader administration effort to weaken the scientific underpinnings of policymaking. Senior administration officials have tried to water down the testimony of government scientists, publicly chastised scientists who have dissented from President Donald Trump's positions and blocked government researchers from traveling to conferences to present their work.In this case, the administration is taking aim at public health studies conducted outside the government that could justify tightening regulations on smog in the air, mercury in water, lead in paint and other potential threats to human health.Scott Pruitt, the former administrator of the EPA, had made publication of underlying scientific data a top priority and tried to rush a proposal through the regulatory system in 2018. After he resigned that July, Pruitt's successor, Wheeler, delayed the transparency rule and suggested the EPA needed time to address the chorus of opposition from environmental and public health groups.But a draft of the revised regulation headed for White House review and obtained by The New York Times shows that the administration intends to widen its scope, not narrow it.The previous version of the regulation would have applied only to a certain type of research, "dose-response" studies in which levels of toxicity are studied in animals or humans. The new proposal would require access to the raw data for virtually every study that the EPA considers."EPA is proposing a broader applicability," the new regulation states, saying that open data should not be limited to certain types of studies.Most significantly, the new proposal would apply retroactively. A separate internal EPA memo viewed by The New York Times shows that the agency had considered, but ultimately rejected, an option that might have allowed foundational studies like Harvard's Six Cities study to continue to be used.An EPA spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, "The agency does not discuss draft, deliberative documents or actions still under internal and interagency review."On Wednesday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing on the EPA's efforts. A top pulmonary specialist and a representative of the country's largest nonprofit funder of research on Parkinson's disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, are expected to testify that the EPA's proposed rule would eliminate the use of valuable research showing the dangers of pollution to human health.Pruitt's original proposal drew nearly 600,000 comments, the vast majority of them in opposition. Among those commenting were leading public health groups and some of the country's top scientific organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science.The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners said it was "deeply concerned" that the rule would lead to the exclusion of studies, "ultimately resulting in weaker environmental and health protections and greater risks to children's health." The National Center for Science Education said ruling out studies that do not use open data "would send a deeply misleading message, ignoring the thoughtful processes that scientists use to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered." The Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Science Libraries said the proposal "contradicts our core values."Industry groups said the rule would ensure greater public understanding of the science behind regulations that cost consumers money."Transparency, reproducibility and application of current scientific knowledge are paramount to providing the foundation required for sound regulations," the American Chemistry Council wrote to the EPA in support of the plan.The new version does not appear to have taken any of the opposition into consideration. At a meeting of the agency's independent science advisory board this summer, Wheeler said he was "a little shocked" at the amount of opposition to the proposal, but he was committed to finalizing it.Beyond retroactivity, the latest version stipulates that all data and models used in studies under consideration at the EPA would have to be made available to the agency so it can reanalyze research itself. The politically appointed agency administrator would have wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject."It was hard to imagine that they could have made this worse, but they did," said Michael Halpern, deputy director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group. He added, "This is a wholesale politicization of the process."Academics are not typically required to turn over private data when submitting studies for peer review by other specialists in the field, or for publication in scientific journals, the traditional ways scientific research is evaluated. If academics were to turn over the raw data to be made available for public review, the EPA would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to redact private information, according to one federal estimate.The Six Cities study and a 1995 American Cancer Society analysis of 1.2 million people that confirmed the Harvard findings appear to be the inspiration of the regulation.The proposal gives the public 30 days to offer comments on the changes to the EPA's plan. Agency officials have said they hope to finalize the measure in 2020."The original goal was to stop EPA from relying on these two studies unless the data is made public," said Steven Milloy, a member of Trump's EPA transition team who runs Junkscience.org, a website that questions established climate change science and contends particulate matter in smog does not harm human health.He dismissed concerns that the new rule could be used to unravel existing regulations, but he said he did expect it to prevent pollution rules from getting tougher."The reality is, standards are not going to be tightened as long as there's a Republican in office," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


Brain scans show the minds of girls and boys are similar in mathAs more and more advocates and organizations work to dispel the myths that boys are better at math than girls or that women don't belong in STEM fields, new data is supporting their case. Boys and girls show the same brain activity when it comes to math, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Science of Learning. The seven-year study, conducted in Rochester, New York, tested the brain activity of more than 100 children ages three to 10.

SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink internet satellites — and hits reusability milestonesSpaceX sent its second set of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit today, atop a Falcon 9 rocket that featured the fourth go-round for the first-stage booster and the first reuse of a nose cone. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida came on time at 9:56 a.m. ET (6:56 a.m. PT). One of SpaceX's launch commentators gave a nod to Veterans Day as the rocket rose: "With gratitude to our veterans, today and always, go USA!" Minutes afterward, the rocket's first stage flew itself back to what has now become a routine touchdown on a drone ship in… Read More



Boeing traces problem with Starliner parachute system to an unsecured pinFor want of a pin, the use of a spaceship's parachute was lost. That may be a simplistic way to explain why one of the three parachutes on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi failed to open. It does, however, serve as a cautionary tale about the one obvious glitch in Monday's pad abort test of the Starliner, a craft that's due to start transporting NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station next year. Overall, the test was judged a success: The uncrewed Starliner fired the rocket engines on its launch abort system, slowed its descent with the aid… Read More

NASA cracks open a sample of moon soil that’s been shut away for four decadesFor the first time in more than 40 years, NASA has opened up a pristine sample of moon dirt and rocks that was collected during the Apollo missions. Scientists hope that a close analysis of the material from a 2-foot-long, nearly 2-inch-wide core sample will help astronauts get ready for a new series of Artemis moon missions in the 2020s. When Apollo's moonwalkers collected samples of lunar soil and rock, also known as regolith, some of those samples were tucked away at NASA's Johnson Space Center with the expectation that analytical tools would improve over the course of the decades… Read More


2019’s Allen Distinguished Investigators will focus on the mysteries of our cellsThe Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of Seattle's Allen Institute, is making a total of $7.5 million in awards to its latest class of five biomedical researchers. The themes for this year's Allen Distinguished Investigators focus on stem cell therapies and single-cell interactions in their native environments. “The field of stem cell biology has the potential to change how we treat diseases by helping precision medicine, and there’s so much we still don’t understand about the interplay between cells in living tissues or organs,” Kathy Richmond, director of the Frontiers Group, said today in a news release. "Our… Read More

Spaceflight and Rocket Lab will put a Japanese shooting-star satellite into orbitSeattle-based Spaceflight says it's handling the pre-launch logistics for a Japanese satellite that's designed to spray artificial shooting stars into the sky. Tokyo-based ALE's spacecraft is just one of seven satellites due to be sent into orbit from New Zealand as early as Nov. 25, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle. It'll be the 10th Electron launch, earning the nickname "Running Out of Fingers." It'll also be the first launch to test the guidance and navigation hardware as well as the sensors that Rocket Lab will eventually use to help make the Electron's first stage recoverable. No recovery will… Read More

Boeing proposes lunar lander for NASA crews, rivaling Blue Origin (and SpaceX?)Boeing says it has submitted its proposal for a lunar lander capable of putting astronauts on the moon by as early as 2024, joining a competition that includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture and most likely SpaceX as well. Today marked the deadline for submissions. NASA says it's aiming to select at least two proposed landing systems by January for further development. Two separate teams could be selected to build landers for moon missions in 2024 and 2025. NASA envisions a system that includes a transfer vehicle to ferry a lander from a lunar-orbiting Gateway outpost to… Read More


Why Didn't She Get Alzheimer's? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the DiseaseThe woman's genetic profile showed she would develop Alzheimer's by the time she turned 50.A member of the world's largest family to suffer from Alzheimer's, she, like generations of her relatives, was born with a gene mutation that causes people to begin having memory and thinking problems in their 40s and deteriorate rapidly toward death around age 60.But remarkably, she experienced no cognitive decline at all until her 70s, nearly three decades later than expected.How did that happen? New research provides an answer, one that experts say could change the scientific understanding of Alzheimer's disease and inspire new ideas about how to prevent and treat it.In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers say the woman, whose name they withheld to protect her privacy, has another mutation that has protected her from dementia even though her brain has developed a major neurological feature of Alzheimer's disease.This ultra rare mutation appears to help stave off the disease by minimizing the binding of a particular sugar compound to an important gene. That finding suggests that treatments could be developed to give other people that same protective mechanism."I'm very excited to see this new study come out -- the impact is dramatic," said Dr. Yadong Huang, a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes, who was not involved in the research. "For both research and therapeutic development, this new finding is very important."A drug or gene therapy would not be available any time soon because scientists first need to replicate the protective mechanism found in this one patient by testing it in laboratory animals and human brain cells.Still, this case comes at a time when the Alzheimer's field is craving new approaches after billions of dollars have been spent on developing and testing treatments and some 200 drug trials have failed. It has been more than 15 years since the last treatment for dementia was approved, and the few drugs available do not work very well for very long.The woman is entering her late 70s now and lives in Medellin, the epicenter for an extended Colombian family of about 6,000 people whose members have been plagued with dementia for centuries, a condition they called "La Bobera" -- "the foolishness" -- and attributed to superstitious causes.Decades ago, a Colombian neurologist, Dr. Francisco Lopera, began painstakingly collecting the family's birth and death records in Medellin and remote Andes mountain villages. He documented the sprawling family tree and took dangerous risks in guerrilla and drug-trafficking territory to cajole relatives of people who died with dementia into giving him their brains for analysis.Through this work, Lopera, whose brain bank at the University of Antioquia now contains 300 brains, helped discover that their Alzheimer's was caused by a mutation on a gene called Presenilin 1.While this type of hereditary early-onset dementia accounts for only a small proportion of the roughly 30 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's, it is important because unlike most forms of Alzheimer's, the Colombian version has been traced to a specific cause and a consistent pattern. So Lopera and a team of American scientists have spent years studying the family, searching for answers both to help the Colombians and to address the mounting epidemic of the more typical old-age Alzheimer's disease.When they found that the woman had the Presenilin 1 mutation, but had not yet even developed a pre-Alzheimer's condition called mild cognitive impairment, the scientists were mystified."We have a single person who is resilient to Alzheimer's disease when she should be at high risk," said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix and a leader of the research team.The woman was flown to Boston, where some of the researchers are based, for brain scans and other tests. Those results were puzzling, said Yakeel Quiroz, a Colombian neuropsychologist who directs the familial dementia neuroimaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.The woman's brain was laden with the foremost hallmark of Alzheimer's: plaques of amyloid protein."The highest levels of amyloid that we have seen so far," said Quiroz, adding that the excessive amyloid probably accumulated because the woman has lived much longer than other family members with the Alzheimer's-causing mutation.But the woman had few other neurological signs of the disease -- not much of a protein called tau, which forms tangles in Alzheimer's brains, and little neurodegeneration or brain atrophy."Her brain was functioning really well," said Quiroz, who, like Reiman, is a senior author of the study. "Compared to people who are 45 or 50, she's actually better."She said the woman, who raised four children, had only one year of formal education and could barely read or write, so it was unlikely her cognitive protection came from educational stimulation."She has a secret in her biology," Lopera said. "This case is a big window to discover new approaches."Quiroz consulted Dr. Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez, who, like her, is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School (he is also Quiroz's husband). Arboleda-Velasquez, a cell biologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, conducted extensive genetic testing and sequencing, determining that the woman has an extremely rare mutation on a gene called APOE.APOE is important in general-population Alzheimer's. One variant, APOE4, present in about 14% of people, greatly increases risk and is present in 40% of people with Alzheimer's. People with another variant, APOE2, occurring in about 7% of the population, are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, while those with the most common variant, APOE3, are in the middle.The Colombian woman has two copies of APOE3, but both copies have a mutation called Christchurch (for the New Zealand city where it was discovered). The Christchurch mutation is extremely rare, but several years ago, Reiman's daughter Rebecca, a technologist, helped determine that a handful of Colombian family members have that mutation on one of their APOE genes. They developed Alzheimer's as early as their relatives, though -- unlike the woman with mutations on both APOE genes."The fact that she had two copies, not just one, really kind of sealed the deal," Arboleda-Velasquez said.The woman's mutation is in an area of the APOE gene that binds with a sugar-protein compound called heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), which is involved in spreading tau in Alzheimer's disease.In laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the less a variant of APOE binds to HSPG, the less it is linked to Alzheimer's. With the Christchurch mutation, there was barely any binding.That, said Arboleda-Velasquez, "was the piece that completed the puzzle because, 'Oh, this is how the mutation has such a strong effect.'"Researchers were also able to develop a compound that, in laboratory dish experiments, mimicked the action of the mutation, suggesting it's possible to make drugs that prevent APOE from binding to HSPG.Dr. Guojun Bu, who studies APOE, said that while the findings involved a single case and more research is needed, the implications could be profound."When you have delayed onset of Alzheimer's by three decades, you say wow," said Bu, chairman of the neuroscience department at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, who was not involved in the study.He said the research suggests that instead of drugs attacking amyloid or tau, which have failed in many clinical trials, a medication or gene therapy targeting APOE could be promising.Reiman, who led another newly published study showing that APOE has a bigger impact on a person's risk of getting Alzheimer's than previously thought, said potential treatments could try to reduce or even silence APOE activity in the brain. People born without APOE appear to have no cognitive problems, but they do have very high cholesterol that requires treatment.Huang, who wrote a commentary about the study and is affiliated with two companies focusing on potential APOE-related treatments, said the findings also challenge a leading Alzheimer's theory about the role of amyloid.Since the woman had huge amounts of amyloid but few other Alzheimer's indicators, "it actually illustrates, to my knowledge for the first time, a very clear dissociation of amyloid accumulation from tau pathology, neurodegeneration and even cognitive decline," he said.Lopera said the woman is just beginning to develop dementia, and he recently disclosed her genetic profile to her four adult children, who each have only one copy of the Christchurch mutation.The researchers are also evaluating a few other members of the Colombian family, who appear to also have some resistance to Alzheimer's. They are not as old as the woman, and they do not have the Christchurch mutation, but the team hopes to find other genetic factors from studying them and examine whether those factors operate along the same or different biological pathways, Reiman said."We've learned that at least one individual can live for very long having the cause of Alzheimer's, and she's resistant to it," Arboleda-Velasquez said. "What this patient is teaching is there could be a pathway for correcting the disease."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


NASA is ‘thrilled’ with pad abort test for Boeing’s Starliner space taxi despite parachute glitchBoeing cleared a key milestone for launching NASA astronauts on its CST-100 Starliner space taxi today by executing an end-to-end test of its rocket-powered launch abort system — a test that did what it needed to do even though one of the craft's three parachutes didn't open. Data from the pad abort test at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will be fully analyzed in advance of an uncrewed Starliner mission to the International Space Station and back, currently scheduled for a Dec. 17 launch, Boeing and NASA said. “Tests like this one are crucial to… Read More


Space shipment launched with sports car parts, cookie ovenA supply ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Saturday with sports car parts, an oven for baking cookies and a vest to protect against radiation. Northrop Grumman launched its Cygnus capsule for NASA from Wallops Island, Virginia. The space station's astronauts will test the oven by baking chocolate chip cookies and try out the new safety vest to gauge its comfort.

Cygnus cargo ship heads to space station with satellite built by students in SeattleNorthrop Grumman launched a robotic Cygnus cargo capsule to the International Space Station today, marking one giant leap for a small satellite built by students at the University of Washington and Seattle's Raisbeck Aviation High School. The 7-pound HuskySat-1 was among 8,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific payloads packed aboard the Cygnus for liftoff atop Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket at 9:59 a.m. ET (6:59 a.m. PT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast. Hundreds of onlookers cheered as the rocket rose into sunny skies after a trouble-free countdown.. "Good launch all the way around," launch conductor Adam… Read More



Happy Halloween from Hubble Telescope: Otherworldly ‘eyes’ glow in ghostly galaxyNow here's something really scary for Halloween: Imagine two galaxies slamming into each other and creating a monstrous wraith with ghostly glowing eyes. It's not that far of a stretch. The Hubble Space Telescope captured just such an image, for a team of astronomers based at the University of Washington. The visible-light picture, taken in June by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows a galactic smash-up that took place about 700 million light-years away in the constellation Microscopium. The cosmic collision is known as Arp-Madore 2026-424 or AM 2026-424, because it's noted that way in the Arp-Madore Catalogue of Southern… Read More

Scientists track the arms race that’s playing out between bacteria in your gutThe balance of bacteria in your gut can make the difference between sickness and health — and now scientists report that different species of bacteria share immunity genes to protect themselves against each other's toxins and maintain their balance of power. In effect, closely related species of bacteria acquire each other's defense systems to fend off threats from alien invaders. The findings appear in a paper published today in the journal Nature. The senior authors are Joseph Mougous, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine; and Elhanan Borenstein, a former UW Medicine geneticist who now works… Read More


Allen Institute maps out a high-resolution ‘org chart’ for connections in the brainResearchers at Seattle's Allen Institute say a new and improved map of the mouse brain reveals not only how different regions are connected, but how those connections are ordered in a hierarchical way. They add that the mapping techniques behind their study, which was published today by the journal Nature, could shed light on how diseases like Alzheimer's, Partkinson's or schizophrenia tangle up connections in the human brain. The map produced by the study is technically known as a medium-scale "connectome." It's been variously compared to a wiring diagram, organizational chart or subway map for the brain. An initial version… Read More

'OK Boomer' Marks the End of Friendly Generational RelationsIn a viral audio clip on TikTok, a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declares, "The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don't ever want to grow up."Thousands of teens have responded through remixed reaction videos and art projects with a simple phrase: "OK boomer.""OK boomer" has become Generation Z's endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don't get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people -- and the issues that matter to them.Teenagers have scrawled the message in their notebooks and carved it into at least one pumpkin. For senior picture day at one Virginia high school, a group of nine students used duct tape to plaster "OK boomer" across their chests.The meme-to-merch cycle is nothing new, but unlike most novelty products, "OK boomer" merch is selling. Shannon O'Connor, 19, designed a T-shirt and hoodie with the phrase "OK boomer" written in the "thank you" style of a plastic shopping bag. She uploaded it to Bonfire, a site for selling custom apparel, with the tagline "OK boomer have a terrible day." After promoting the shirt on TikTok, she received more than $10,000 in orders."The older generations grew up with a certain mindset, and we have a different perspective," O'Connor said. "A lot of them don't believe in climate change or don't believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers just respond, 'OK, boomer.' It's like, we'll prove you wrong, we're still going to be successful because the world is changing."O'Connor is far from the only one cashing in. Hundreds of "OK boomer" products are for sale through on-demand shopping sites like Redbubble and Spreadshirt, where many young people are selling "OK boomer" phone cases, bedsheets, stickers, pins and more.Nina Kasman, an 18-year-old college student selling "OK boomer" stickers, socks, shirts, leggings, posters, water bottles, notebooks and greeting cards, said that while older generations have always looked down on younger kids or talked about things "back in their day," she and other teens believe older people are actively hurting young people. "Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making," she said. "Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we're all really frustrated by it.""Gen Z is going to be the first generation to have a lower quality of life than the generation before them," said Joshua Citarella, 32, a researcher who studies online communities. Teenagers today find themselves, he said, with "three major crises all coming to a head at the Gen Z moment.""Essentials are more expensive than ever before, we pay 50% of our income to rent, no one has health insurance," Citarella said. "Previous generations have left Generation Z with the short end of the stick. You see this on both the left, right, up down and sideways." Citarella added: "The merch is proof of how much the sentiment resonates with people."Rising inequality, unaffordable college tuition, political polarization exacerbated by the internet, and the climate crisis all fuel anti-boomer sentiment.And so Kasman and other teenagers selling merch say that monetizing the boomer backlash is their own little form of protest against a system they feel is rigged. "The reason we make the 'OK boomer' merch is because there's not a lot that I can personally do to reduce the price of college, for example, which was much cheaper for older generations who then made it more expensive," Kasman said. "There's not much I can personally do to restore the environment, which was harmed due to corporate greed of older generations. There's not much I can personally do to undo political corruption, or fix Congress so it's not mostly old white men boomers who don't represent the majority of generations."Kasman said she plans to use proceeds to pay for college. So do others."I'll definitely use the money for my student loans, paying my rent. Stuff that will help me survive," said Everett Solares, 19, who is selling a slew of rainbow "OK boomer" products. "I hadn't seen any gay stuff for 'OK boomer,' so I just chose every product that I could find in case anyone wanted it," she said.Gavin Deschutter, 17, reimagines famous logos for companies like FedEx, Budweiser, Google, and KFC with the catch phrase, and has been selling T-shirts and phone cases emblazoned with the message. He hasn't made very much -- "I sold a hoodie yesterday for $36," he said -- but his designs have been shared across meme pages on Instagram.Every movement needs an anthem, and the undisputed boomer backlash hymn is a song written and produced by Jonathan Williams, a 20-year-old college student. Titled, inevitably, "OK boomer," the song opens with: "It's funny you think I respect your opinion, when your hairline looks that disrespectful."The chorus consists of Williams screaming "OK boomer" repeatedly into the mic. Peter Kuli, a 19-year-old college student, created a remix of the song, which has seen 4,000 TikToks made from the track. The two planned to split the revenue earned through streams of the song on Spotify."The song is aggressive and ridiculous, but I think it says a lot about Gen Z culture," Kuli said. "I think because of the internet, people are finally feeling like they have a voice and an outlet to critique the generations who got us into this position.""Millennials and Gen Xers are on our side, but I think Gen Z is finally putting their feet in the ground and saying enough is enough," he said.Teens say "OK boomer" is the perfect response because it's blase but cutting. It's the digital equivalent of an eye roll. And because boomers so frequently refer to younger generations as "snowflakes," a few teenagers said, it's particularly hilarious to watch them freak out about the phrase."If they do take it personally, it just further proves that they take everything we do as offensive. It's just funnier," said Saptarshi Biswas, 17."Instead of taking offense to them, you're just like, ha-ha," said Julitza Mitchell, 18.In the end, boomer is just a state of mind. Williams said anyone can be a boomer -- with the right attitude. "You don't like change, you don't understand new things especially related to technology, you don't understand equality," he said. "Being a boomer is just having that attitude, it can apply to whoever is bitter toward change.""We're not taking a jab at boomers as a whole -- we're not going for their lives," said Christopher Mezher, 18. "If it's a jab at anyone it's outdated political figures who try to run our lives.""You can keep talking," Kasman said, as if to a boomer, "but we're going to change the future."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company