👓 Mutating DNA caught on film | Science | AAAS

Mutating DNA caught on film by Elizabeth Pennisi (Science | AAAS)
Study in bacteria shows how regularly DNA changes and how few of those changes are deadly

This is a rather cool little experiment.

h/t to @moorejh via Twitter:

Bookmarked on March 16, 2018 at 12:15PM

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👓 G. W. Peck | Wikipedia

G. W. Peck (en.wikipedia.org)
G. W. Peck is a pseudonymous attribution used as the author or co-author of a number of published mathematics academic papers. Peck is sometimes humorously identified with George Wilbur Peck, a former governor of the US state of Wisconsin. Peck first appeared as the official author of a 1979 paper entitled "Maximum antichains of rectangular arrays". The name "G. W. Peck" is derived from the initials of the actual writers of this paper: Ronald Graham, Douglas West, George B. Purdy, Paul Erdős, Fan Chung, and Daniel Kleitman. The paper initially listed Peck's affiliation as Xanadu, but the editor of the journal objected, so Ron Graham gave him a job at Bell Labs. Since then, Peck's name has appeared on some sixteen publications, primarily as a pseudonym of Daniel Kleitman.

I’d known about Bourbaki, but this one is a new one on me.

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👓 Waterman’s egg | Lior Pachter

Waterman’s egg by Lior Pachter (Bits of DNA)
The egg of Columbus is an apocryphal tale about ideas that seem trivial after the fact. The story originates from the book “History of the New World” by Girolamo Benzoni, who wrote that Columbus, upon upon being told that his journey to the West Indies was unremarkable and that Spain “would not have been devoid of a man who would have attempted the same” had he not undertaken the journey, replied “Gentlemen, I will lay a wager with any of you, that you will not make this egg stand up as I will, naked and without anything at all.” They all tried, and no one succeeded in making it stand up. When the egg came round to the hands of Columbus, by beating it down on the table he fixed it, having thus crushed a little of one end”

The idea of Amerindian eggs is an interesting one.

Almost every business management book I’ve read has felt like something obvious, but I’m not quite sure how difficult they may have been for others to have written.

A more interesting class of these problems are magician’s tricks, which once explained are almost painfully obvious. Perhaps this is why the class of magicians swear themselves to secrecy? Once the trick is revealed, there’s no more magic, so to keep the illusion, one doesn’t reveal them.

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👓 Terry Speed: a “male feminist” | Lior Pachter

Terry Speed: a “male feminist” by Lior Pachter (Bits of DNA)
My close-up encounter with sexual harassment was devastating. I never expected, when I arrived in Berkeley in 1999, that Terry Speed, a senior professor in my field who I admired and thought of as a mentor would end up as Respondent and myself as Complainant Two. However much more serious and significant than my ordeal were the devastating consequences his sexual harassment had on the life and well being of Complainant One. The sexual harassment that took place was not an isolated event. Despite repeated verbal and written requests by Complainant One that Speed stop, his sexual harassment continued unabated for months. The case was not reported at the time the sexual harassment happened because of the structure of Title IX. Complainant One knew that Speed would be informed if a complaint was made, and Complainant One was terrified of reprisal. Her fear was not hypothetical; after months of asking Speed to stop sexually harassing her, he communicated to her that, unless she was willing to reconcile with him as he wished, she could not count on his recommendation.


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👓 Centroid street addresses considered harmful | Nelson Minar

Centroid street addresses considered harmful by Nelson Minar (Nelson's log)
The underlying problem here is the database has the polygon for the building but not the exact point of the front door. So it guesses a point by filling in the centroid of the polygon. Which is kinda close but not close enough. A better heuristic may be “center of the polyline that faces the matching street”. That’s also going to be wrong sometimes, but less often.

Some interesting issues with online maps.

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👓 Defending your app from copies and clones | Marco.org

Defending your app from copies and clones by Marco Arment (marco.org)
App developers sometimes ask me what they should do when their features, designs, or entire apps are copied by competitors. Legally, there’s not a lot you can do about it: Copyright protects your icon, images, other creative resources, and source code. You automatically have copyright protection, but it’s easy to evade with minor variations.1 App stores don’t enforce it easily unless resources have been copied exactly. Trademarks protect names, logos, and slogans. They cover minor variations as well, and app stores enforce trademarks more easily, but they’re costly to register and only apply in narrow areas.2 Only assholes get patents. They can be a huge PR mistake, and they’re a fool’s errand: even if you get one ($20,000+ later), you can’t afford to use it against any adversary big enough to matter. Don’t be an asshole or a fool. Don’t get software patents.



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👓 One more reason not to sweat the robot takeover | Doc Searls

One more reason not to sweat the robot takeover by Doc Searls (doc.blog)
Long ago a high school friend wanted to connect through Classmates.com. We fell out of touch, but Classmates did not. It kept spamming me with stuff about my long-dead high school until I got it, somehow, to stop. Now I just got a mail from Classmates.com tempting me to know more about a classmate of mine from "Calabasas Academy Calabasas, CA Attended ’95-’99." Classmates' marketing robot calls me Jim and has a mailbox for me (see the image to the right) containing three promotional emails from itself. My high school was at the other end of the country, and I graduated in 1965.
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👓 What is Fulfillment? | Stephanie Hurlburt

What is Fulfillment? by Stephanie Hurlburt (Stephanie Hurlburt)
Another day passed. And another. Go to some meetings, do some work. Another day. It's not that I was trying to do nothing. I just couldn't think of anything that felt fulfilling. This was a couple months ago. In fact, even today I listened to a song and for a gleaming 15 seconds or so, I felt completely lit up from the inside, in a this-is-why-life-is-worth-living kind of overwhelming inspiration feeling.

I can certainly identify with portions of this. She’s going back and asking many of the same types of questions the ancient Greeks did.

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👓 Google Condemns the Archival Web | Doc Searls

Google Condemns the Archival Web by Doc Searls (doc.blog)
The archival Web—the one you see through the protocol HTTP—will soon be condemned, cordoned off behind Google's police tape, labeled "insecure" on every current Chrome browser. For some perspective on this, imagine if suddenly all the national parks in the world became forbidden zones because nature created them before they could only be seen through crypto eyeglasses. Every legacy website, nearly all of which were created with no malice, commit no fraud and distribute no malware, will become haunted houses: still there, but too scary for most people to visit. It's easy to imagine, and Google wants you to imagine it.
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👓 Right enough | Doc Searls

Right enough by Doc Searls (doc.blog)
I've now read Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury twice, and have seen nothing in the news since the book went to bed (last November) that has me doubting what's in it. Even if not a single thing in it is factually accurate, all of it rings true. See, what Michael wrote is a portrait, not a photograph. And it's an artful one, since Michael is a helluva good writer. He's also the best media critic we've got. And Trump is, above all, a media character. So are, or were, all the many characters who surrounded Trump in the book's story of the administration's first eleven months. Now only three of those characters are left: Kellyanne Conway, John Kelly and the dual entity Steve Bannon calls Jarvanka.
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👓 A Qualified Fail | Doc Searls

A Qualified Fail by Doc Searls (Doc Searls Weblog)
Power of the People is a great grabber of a headline, at least for me. But it’s a pitch for a report that requires filling out the form here on the right: You see a lot of these: invitations to put one’s digital ass on mailing list, just to get a report that should have been public in the first place, but isn’t so personal data can be harvested and sold or given away to God knows who. And you do more than just “agree to join” a mailing list. You are now what marketers call a “qualified lead” for countless other parties you’re sure to be hearing from.
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👓 Living Bits: Information and the Origin of Life | PBS

Living Bits: Information and the Origin of Life by Christoph Adami (pbs.org)
What is life? When Erwin Schrödinger posed this question in 1944, in a book of the same name, he was 57 years old. He had won the Nobel in Physics eleven years earlier, and was arguably past his glory days. Indeed, at that time he was working mostly on his ill-fated “Unitary Field Theory.” By all accounts, the publication of “What is Life?”—venturing far outside of a theoretical physicist’s field of expertise—raised many eyebrows. How presumptuous for a physicist to take on one of the deepest questions in biology! But Schrödinger argued that science should not be compartmentalized: “Some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them—and at the risk of making fools of ourselves.” Schrödinger’s “What is Life” has been extraordinarily influential, in one part because he was one of the first who dared to ask the question seriously, and in another because it was the book that was read by a good number of physicists—famously both Francis Crick and James Watson independently, but also many a member of the “Phage group,” a group of scientists that started the field of bacterial genetics—and steered them to new careers in biology. The book is perhaps less famous for the answers Schrödinger suggested, as almost all of them have turned out to be wrong.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

our existence can succinctly be described as “information that can replicate itself,” the immediate follow-up question is, “Where did this information come from?”

from an information perspective, only the first step in life is difficult. The rest is just a matter of time.

Through decades of work by legions of scientists, we now know that the process of Darwinian evolution tends to lead to an increase in the information coded in genes. That this must happen on average is not difficult to see. Imagine I start out with a genome encoding n bits of information. In an evolutionary process, mutations occur on the many representatives of this information in a population. The mutations can change the amount of information, or they can leave the information unchanged. If the information changes, it can increase or decrease. But very different fates befall those two different changes. The mutation that caused a decrease in information will generally lead to lower fitness, as the information stored in our genes is used to build the organism and survive. If you know less than your competitors about how to do this, you are unlikely to thrive as well as they do. If, on the other hand, you mutate towards more information—meaning better prediction—you are likely to use that information to have an edge in survival.

There are some plants with huge amounts of DNA compared to their “peers”–perhaps these would be interesting test cases for potential experimentation of this?

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👓 Remembering Stephen Hawking | Christoph Adami

Remembering Stephen Hawking by Christoph Adami (Spherical Harmonics)
The passing of the great physicist Stephen Hawking today at the age of 76 fills me with sadness for many different reasons. On the one hand, it was inspiring to witness that, seemingly, the power of will and intellect can hold such a serious illness at bay for so long. On the other hand, I am also sad that I never got to talk to him, and perhaps explain to him my take on his great body of work.

h/t to Christoph Adami

Bookmarked on March 14, 2018 at 06:36PM

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👓 Caltech Mourns the Loss of Stephen Hawking | Caltech

Caltech Mourns the Loss of Stephen Hawking by Whitney Clavin (The California Institute of Technology)
Stephen Hawking, the author of A Brief History of Time and a frequent visitor to Caltech, has passed away. He was 76.
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👓 Smelvetica | Tims Curious Creations

Smelvetica by Tim Holman (tholman.com)
Smelvetica is an experimentation in taking one of the worlds most beloved fonts, and turning it into a morbid monstrocity.

We need more fonts like this so people appreciate the good ones a bit more.

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