Linkage

Congratulations to my fellow Beast Amitha Knight on being a co-winner of the 2012 PEN New Enlgand Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award!

Speaking of children’s books, some people who saw The Hunger Games movie are upset that Rue is black. Unsurprising but sad.

And speaking of friends, my friend Amber is slumming it in Antarctica and is writing some fascinating blog posts from down there.

Can Ellen Do More Push-Ups Than Michelle Obama? They both seem to be able to do more pushups than me. Time to hit the gym I think.

I’ve been eating this spicy peanut noodle salad for lunch this week and boy is it delicious.

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Linkage

It’s been a busy week, deadline-wise, but I did see a few cool things on the interwebs which seemed worth sharing:

Tarantulas molting, courtesy of my high school biology teacher and ExploraVision coach extraordinare, Mr. Stone (his blog is cool too).

Keeping with the nature theme, find the cuttlefish!. The octopus video is cool too. Thanks to my commute being a bit longer, I listen to Science Friday podcasts as well as Story Collider, which is a pretty cool Moth-meets-science storytelling podcast.

Sometimes papers use pretty strong words in their titles (see for more context). On that note, some letters from John Nash (see also) were recently declassified by the NSA wherein he seems to predict fundamentals of cryptography and computational complexity. In more Rivest news, he coded up the cryptosystem.

In sadder news (also not so recent now), De Bruijn passed away. I’ve started a bioinformatics project recently (maybe more like “started”) and DeBruijn graphs are a pretty useful tool for making sense of data from next-generation sequencing technologies. Here are some animations describing how Illumina and 454 sequencing work.

Maybe when it gets warmer I will put together a worm bin — I miss the curbside composting of Berkeley.

I get a lot of positive comments about this shirt, but Topatoco are discontinuing it. Speaking of potatoes, Lav has a nice post with some links to papers on the importance and history of potatoes.

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Being hungry sounds dangerous for your brain.

Celphalopod color and texture camouflage. Amazing. [via]

Clarence Darrow on eugenics. [via]

My friend Erik is starting a brewery and has been doing a series called Pint/Counterpint about the process of running a local brewery. Someday I will make it down to North Carolina…

More depressing news about our obsessive need for tests.

Linkage

Between travel and lingering reviews, I have not had any time to really write anything particularly interesting or technical. I have a lot of thoughts, just not much willpower to write them down at the moment. In the meantime, be amused/saddened/scared/entertained by these links…

Out of Context Science.

Rep. Keith Ellison testifies at Rep. Peter King’s McCarthy-esque “hearings.” I’m sure people have seen the terrifying video from Orange County.

The Dayenu Principle applied to films beating you over the head. Enough already!

David Rees on America’s Next Great Restaurant: “Life’s too short not to eat kale every five minutes.”

The way we are treating Bradley Manning is immoral and illegal. If the first doesn’t bother you, the second should.

Goodnight, Dune, goodnight, Shai-hulud bursting out of the dune.

I should eat more cauliflower.

My friend Reno is famous on the internet!

The top retractions of 2010

This is a bit of a pessimistic list, but here are the top science/scientist retractions in 2010. This reminds me of a pretty interesting New Yorker article I just read on the difficulty in reproducing scientific results. The lingering feeling after reading that article is that we need better statistics than just blindly applying chi-square tests and blah blah blah.

some slightly more recent reads

Suspended in Language (Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis) — a graphic novel about Niels Bohr, his life, his theories, and the birth of modern physics. This was a great read and wonderful introduction for those with a scientific bent but perhaps less physics background (me in a nutshell).

Logicomix(Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou) — continuing with the intellectual comic book trend, this was a semi-fictionalized history of the foundations of mathematics from the perspective of Bertrand Russell. There’s a lot going on in the book, which tries to examine the connections between logic and madness, maps versus reality, and Russell versus Wittgenstein. I very much enjoyed the beginning of the book but it sort of rushed into the ending : I wanted more about Gödel!

Botany of Desire (Michael Pollan) — this is a lyrically written book about the relationship between people and plants. Pollan goes through 4 case studies : the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato, and describes how the plants satisfy human desires and how humans have shaped the course of their evolution. The writing in this book is beautiful, but his favorite words seem to be Apollonian, Dionysian, and chthonic, which lends some of the text an almost 19th century feeling. His dissection of the issues with GMO farming and Monsanto in the potato chapter is great, but I wish it was more accessible to the average reader. Ah well, it’s a book for elites, and a very pretty book at that.

Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance (Rachel F. Moran) — This was a slightly more legalistic and policy-oriented analysis of how interracial relationships were regulated by the state in the United States. Unlike Kennedy’s book, it has a fair bit more about non black-white relationships, and highlights the differences faced by different ethnic groups. Also unlike Kennedy’s book, it is not aggressively arguing an a particular agenda. Kennedy was building up an argument against race-matching in adoption, and Moran is a little more circumspect and seems (at least to my mind) to be more attuned to the dangers of being prescriptivist. It’s definitely a dry read, but I found it quite informative.

UC Libraries vs. the Nature Publishing Group

Earlier this month, a letter was circulated to the UC Faculty regarding the Nature Publishing Group (NPG)’s proposal to increase the licensing fees for online access by 400%, which is pretty dramatic given a) the high cost of the subscription in the first place and b) the fact that library budgets are going down. There was a suggestion of a boycott.

NPG felt like they had been misrepresented, and issued a press statement saying “you guys are a bunch of whiners, our stuff is the best, and 7% price hikes per year is totally reasonable.” Furthermore, they said “you guys have been getting a crazy good deal for way too long anyhow and its time you paid your fair share.” I suppose behaving like complete jerks is an ok way to react when you are trying to sell somebody something, especially something that is made up of stuff written by your potential buyers. I wonder what their profit margins are like.

The University of California responded, pointing out that 7% increases, compounded, starts getting out of hand pretty fast. “Plainly put, UC Faculty do not
think that their libraries should have to pay exorbitant and unreasonable fees to get access to their own work.”

Looks like PLoS better start rolling out some new titles!

More info can be found at the OSC website, which oddly doesn’t say what OSC stands for.