👓 Living Bits: Information and the Origin of Life | PBS

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?

👓 Remembering Stephen Hawking | Christoph Adami

Read 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

👓 Smelvetica | Tims Curious Creations

Read 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.

📖 Read pages 1-36 of 208 of Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

Read Henry and Ribsy (Henry, #3) by Beverly Cleary (HarperCollins)
Henry's father promises to take him salmon fishing if he can keep Ribsy out of trouble for the next month. But that's no easy task, especially when Ramona gets into the act.
📖 Read pages 1-36 of 208 of Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

They don’t arrest dogs for theft?!

👓 Pennsylvania’s special election should have been a cakewalk for the GOP | The Economist

Read Pennsylvania’s special election should have been a cakewalk for the GOP (The Economist)
“MARINE, prosecutor, patriot, Catholic.

👓 Do you live in a bubble? A quiz | PBS NewsHour

Read Do you live in a bubble? A quiz (PBS NewsHour)
There's a new upper class that's completely disconnected from the average American and American culture at large, says Charles Murray. Take this 25-question quiz to find out just how thick your bubble is.
I’m not one for quizzes, but I’ve scored a 66 on this–on the far side of being stuck in a bubble apparently. I’m glad I can manage to see many sides of our culture.

👓 Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76 | The New York Times

Read Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76 by Dennis Overbye (nytimes.com)
A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”
Some sad news after getting back from Algebraic Geometry class tonight. RIP Stephen Hawking.

📖 Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker

Read Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker (Clarion Books)
Peggy the hen is contented with her quiet existence and daily routine. When a powerful gust of wind sweeps her up and deposits her in the midst of a busy city, she explores her new surroundings, makes new friends, and cleverly figures out how to get home—with a newly kindled appetite for adventure. Evocative full-color paintings follow Peggy’s journey, offering comical details that reward repeated viewing. This reassuring tale and its unruffled heroine invites discussions of exploration, safety, and resourcefulness.
Peggy, a chicken, is given such a lot of character by some excellent writing (including cute reveals), fantastic mixed media artwork, and a whimsical plot which was almost too sparse and short for me. I was left wanting more.

And what a great ending:
“Every day, rain or shine, Peggy ate breakfast, played in her yard, chatted with the pigeons…
and sometimes caught the train to the city.”

Peggy on camera

👓 Farm Girl Café, Chelsea: ‘We don’t stay for dessert, because we have suffered enough’ – restaurant review | The Guardian

Read Farm Girl Café, Chelsea: ‘We don't stay for dessert, because we have suffered enough’ – restaurant review by Jay Rayner (the Guardian)
The food was so bad, says Jay Rayner, a nearby Yorkshire terrier started to look more appetising
It’s got to be difficult to write a restaurant review that’s more scathing than this. Wow!

👓 Trump’s Abrupt ‘Yes’ to North Korea: The 45 Minutes That Could Alter History | The New York Times

Read With Snap ‘Yes’ in Oval Office, Trump Gambles on North Korea by Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun (nytimes.com)
How President Trump threw aside caution and agreed to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in a daring and risky diplomatic gambit to end a nuclear standoff.
It kills me that a year and change in, they still can’t get their act together to coordinate major moves like this. Our country is not a race car that stops on a dime or turns very quickly. Trump may want it to, but it’s not going to do it easily. He’s also likely to destroy a lot of value in our economies by playing bull in the china shop.

I’m still astounded that he’s managed to keep any businesses afloat when making snap decisions like this. It’s really his family’s incredible wealth that in large part has prevented him from reverting to the mean over his lifetime. I can only imagine what additional damage he might do if he actually had any executive capabilities.

If I were his Secretary of State, I’d be resigning and then doing some additional speaking out of school.

👓 ‘Picked Apart by Vultures’: The Last Days of Stan Lee | The Daily Beast

Read ‘Picked Apart by Vultures’: The Last Days of Stan Lee (The Daily Beast)
Months after losing his wife, the 95-year-old comic book legend is surrounded by charlatans and mountebanks.
Apparently we need stronger laws to protect the elderly and infirm.

👓 Nun fighting sale of convent to Katy Perry dies in court | Reuters

Read Nun fighting sale of convent to Katy Perry dies in court (Reuters)
An 89-year-old Roman Catholic nun who has battled pop star Katy Perry for years over the sale of a Los Angeles convent collapsed and died during a court appearance, according to media reports and supporters.

👓 Open web annotation of audio and video | Jon Udell

Read Open web annotation of audio and video by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)
Text, as the Hypothesis annotation client understands it, is HTML, or PDF transformed to HTML. In either case, it’s what you read in a browser, and what you select when you make an annotation. What’s the equivalent for audio and video? It’s complicated because although browsers enable us to select passages of text, the standard media players built into browsers don’t enable us to select segments of audio and video. It’s trivial to isolate a quote in a written document. Click to set your cursor to the beginning, then sweep to the end. Now annotation can happen. The browser fires a selection event; the annotation client springs into action; the user attaches stuff to the selection; the annotation server saves that stuff; the annotation client later recalls it and anchors it to the selection. But selection in audio and video isn’t like selection in text. Nor is it like selection in images, which we easily and naturally crop. Selection of audio and video happens in the temporal domain. If you’ve ever edited audio or video you’ll appreciate what that means. Setting a cursor and sweeping a selection isn’t enough. You can’t know that you got the right intro and outro by looking at the selection. You have to play the selection to make sure it captures what you intended. And since it probably isn’t exactly right, you’ll need to make adjustments that you’ll then want to check, ideally without replaying the whole clip.
Jon Udell has been playing around with media fragments to create some new functionality in Hypothes.is. The nice part is that he’s created an awesome little web service for quickly and easily editing media fragments online for audio and video (including YouTube videos) which he’s also open sourced on GitHub.

I suspect that media fragments experimenters like Aaron Parecki, Marty McGuire, Kevin Marks, and Tantek Çelik will appreciate what he’s doing and will want to play as well as possibly extend it. I’ve already added some of the outline to the IndieWeb wiki page for media fragments (and a link to fragmentions) which has some of their prior work.

I too look forward to a day where web browsers have some of this standardized and built in as core functionality.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Open web annotation of audio and video

This selection tool has nothing intrinsically to do with annotation. It’s job is to make your job easier when you are constructing a link to an audio or video segment.

I’m reminded of a JavaScript tool written by Aaron Parecki that automatically adds a start fragment to the URL of his page when the audio on the page is paused. He’s documented it here: https://indieweb.org/media_fragment


(If I were Virginia Eubanks I might want to capture the pull quote myself, and display it on my book page for visitors who aren’t seeing it through the Hypothesis lens.)

Of course, how would she know that the annotation exists? Here’s another example of where adding webmentions to Hypothesis for notifications could be useful, particularly when they’re more widely supported. I’ve outlined some of the details here in the past: http://boffosocko.com/2016/04/07/webmentions-for-improving-annotation-and-preventing-bullying-on-the-web/