USA : SID 2010 – Ebook readers get chromatic
See that lovely color e-reader in the top picture? That’s our prototype! A bunch of guys in my office spent a week hunched over that with a flock of laptops hitched to it, writing new software to improve the color addressing. Didn’t they do a smashing job? I wish they’d snapped the shot of the even more impressive red and blue parrot, but the duck is very respectable.
In other news, we are currently grappling with the logistical impossibility of being forbidden to remove laboratory notebooks from the building, despite the fact that the laboratory is moving to a DIFFERENT building. I think we may need to call in the physicists to help with this one.
Also, I may be moving to WordPress. Livejournal development has lagged to almost nothing, and I'm really starting to like WordPress's tools and options. One click uploaded my entire LJ plus comments, tags, the works into my WordPress blog. You can find and follow it here. I haven't decided finally, but I'm leaning heavily in that direction.
- Current Mood: curious
- Current Mood: amused
Rand Paul Fires Back at Critics of Civil Rights Act Comments - ABC News
In all honesty, I find the mess they've got in Kentucky completely hilarious. In a startling case of laxity, the media did not crucify Mr. Paul for his ultra-libertarian views. He, for example, believes that the government has no right to tell a business that it must serve people of all races. His belief is that business will naturally do so for economic reasons, but the government has no right to force them. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of people taking a very large exception to this kind of thinking. Mr. Paul, predictably, is blaming the "liberal media" and "democratic talking heads" for the sudden, unflattering attention.
Frankly, I think so-called Libertarians are really anything but. Mr. Paul, for example, wants to make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion, including in cases of rape, incest, or mortal danger. How is this consistent with the government-stay-out-of-my-business philosophy of the libertarian position? Furthermore, he stands opposed to legal same-gender marriage. He talks a good game by saying he's only opposed to it insofar as the government requires it be recognized. So as long as there are no laws protecting gay marriage, so long as there are no laws requiring the recognition of gay marriage as equal in civil and legal standing to heterosexual marriage, then Rand Paul is completely okay with it. (riiiiight.)
Basically, the Tea Party darling is showing himself to be no different from any other conservative republican - he believes the government should legislate people's differentness. Force everyone to conform to a conservative moralistic ideal, and marginalize those who cannot become white, male, Protestant, upper-middle class, gainfully employed, not disabled, not elderly, etc. For the fortunate people who can conform, they want the government to let them do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want. Otherwise, you're out of luck. Rand Paul is possibly even worse on this score than the standard-issue social conservative, and he's made no apologies for it up to this point. Now that he's squarely in the national crosshairs, however, he's busy blaming everybody for picking on him and for being great big meanies. Welcome to the big leagues, Rand Paul. Hope you enjoy your stay, however (mercifully) brief it will be.
- Current Mood:Snarky
Man-made Genetic Instructions Yield Living Cells for the First Time: Scientific American
So the big issue here, certain to create all manner of fuss and to-do in religious circles, is that a team of ordinary human scientists were able to build a bacterial genome from scratch by pulling gene sequences out of a genome database, synthesizing the DNA, and then injecting it into a cell that could accept it. In biological terms, they built the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides via standard chemical synthesis, stitched it together and amplified it in engineered yeast and E. coli cells, and then injected the complete genome into an enucleated Mycoplasma capricolum cell, which went on to behave as an M. mycoides cell as per its synthetic instructions.
Why is this important?
After all, the "only thing" (a nearly incomprehensibly huge thing, but it's still only one thing) the researchers did was make the genome. Cytoplasm, cell membrane, and cell wall were all "naturally made," a "brainless" cell waiting for instructions. BUT. Upon provision of the necessary "brain," the cell carried on with all the necessary functions of life, making proteins and even reproducing like any other naturally occurring bacterium. That totally mundane thing - a cell that lived - is perhaps the largest achievement ever to hit the annals of biology. Why? That team of researchers proved that life is not, in fact, an irreducibly complex, metaphysical thing that is solely the province of God. They were able to take something totally man-made and use it to make something live. The implications of that cannot be overstated.
Should they have done it? I'm inclined to think so. They went to great lengths to establish sensible protocols - they watermarked their synthetic dna so that it's distinguishable from the natural equivalent, for example, and the PI has been very vocal about demanding ethical discussions as the technology has progressed. Better to have a group like this do it than a pack of bioterrorists. There are so many things that we will have to be careful of going forward - the bioweapons potential of this technology is enormous, but the positive potential is just as large. It's a brave new world, and I'm terribly interested to see where we go next.
- Current Mood: curious
Colleague 2: You should go to Bora-Bora.
Colleague 1: Is that really a country? Or is it, I dunno, a cave complex in Afghanistan somewhere?
- Current Mood: amused
Tom: I think this'll work; I'll just plug all of these things into this small power strip, and we can use it to pull the cords through the gap between the desks. Hey maybe we should mount them up somehow, maybe to the underside of the desks, given the tendency of this building to flood when it rains.
Bill: Hm. Maybe we could run them on top of the desks, in the gap or something.
Tom: Ooh hey that's a good idea.
Sanjiv: Do you guys REALLY want all 60 cables that will run to these strips ON the desks? With all of the papers and notebooks and...
Tom: Good point. Maybe not such a hot idea.
Bill: We can just run them along the floor for now.
Tom: Right. We can mount them up later and call it a "process improvement."
Sanjiv: And have a committee and a dozen meetings and a stack of process improvement paperwork. Hey, we could call ourselves "Development" then!
Tom: Zing! (We have a mild interlab rivalry with the Development guys and tease them unmercifully about their overly legislated processes.)
Bill: <Under the desks> Okay, I think I see how we can divide everything up in a way that makes sense. I'll just plug this and these and these others into here...
Tom: Oops, did we just unplug your computer?
Bill: Impossible. I'm not anywhere near Eric's desk.
Tom: Wait, but Eric's computer is plugged into that powerstrip that we daisy chained off of the strip under my desk.
Bill: What?! What's Eric's computer doing plugged in under your desk? Sorry, man.
Sanjiv: I needed the plugs under his desk for the workstation on my desk, because half the plugs under MY desk are running YOUR equipment.
Bill: ... This is why we need 30-plug powerstrips.
- Current Mood: amused
It's not a bad city. It doesn't have a high (comparatively) crime rate, and it's a good place to raise a family. Or it was, anyway, in its heyday. We all came out of a really good high school; upwards of 70% of the students went to college. There's nothing stopping them from going anywhere. I guess I'm just a little mystified that (maybe?) living very close to family trumped other opportunities. I mean, I'm all in favor of living near family - that's important. I dunno, I guess I just have the view that living within reasonable driving distance of family is close enough. My parents have never pressured me to stay close to home; they've always encouraged me to pursue whatever opportunities I have access to. I've never really felt tied to a place, I suppose. I suffer from inertia just as much as the next person - once I'm planted somewhere, I prefer to stay there rather than go through the hassle of relocating. But I don't feel any loyalty to a geographical location, I guess.
I'm rambling. I suppose, in the final analysis, I wonder what it's like, to feel so tied to place you were raised that you never leave, even if it might be wiser to do so.
- Current Mood: contemplative
I'm not in any of the pictures. I'm the only one of us who's not in any of the pictures.
I'm sure none of them would've come even if I'd had a party and invited them. And it really shouldn't matter. It's so very long ago that it shouldn't even be on my radar. Kids will be kids and that's an end to it. But seeing those old photos brings it all back, and the hurt is just as fresh as it was then. I missed so much. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't been the "brainy girl." I wish I hadn't been blessed with intelligence that made me different. I wish they hadn't hated me so for my differentness.
And even still, it affects me. I don't make friends easily. Oh sure, I'm pleasant enough to be around, but it's rare for me to trust anyone with friendship. I remember too well overhearing snide, stinging conversations when they laughed together about how they were pretending to be my friends so I would help them with their homework. I remember the horrible things they said about me when they thought I couldn't hear them. It makes me somewhat anti-social - I dislike large social gatherings and will generally find any excuse I can muster in order to avoid them. My wedding day, while it was the happiest day of my life, was the most horrible also. I was the center of attention all day, and I hated it. I hated the thought that everyone was watching, passing judgment, and finding me lacking, just like when I was a child.
It shouldn't matter. I shouldn't let it matter. But it still matters, and deep down, I'm still that horribly lonely little girl who never got invited to a birthday party.
- Current Mood: crushed
Mind you, I'm no figure skater. The extent of my experience on skates is, more years ago than I would like to admit, wobbling unsteadily around the perimeter of a municipal ice rink within easy reach of the wall to prevent spills. With that disclaimer, I have to say I disagree with Mr. Stojko. So much of figure skating anymore has been quad jump this and triple axel that. That's great and all; it's wonderful to see skating athletes pushing the envelope of what's possible on the ice. However, this is not what figure skating has historically been about. Before the flashy costumes, choreographed routines, and aerial acrobatics, figure skating was all about precision and technical accuracy. Until 1968, the major focus of figure skating was the compulsory figures, which were judged by the shape and accuracy of the skater's trace on the ice. After 1968, the sport became steadily more focused on showmanship in the short program and free skate.
The new scoring system used in the 2010 Games was designed to minimize subjectivity in judging, which was highlighted in the last Winter Games. One of the pairs judges admitted to buckling to pressure to rank the Russian pair first despite a pretty clear victory by the Canadian pair. The result was the current, more complicated, and more technical scoring system. Difficult elements are worth more, and each element is scored on several technical criteria (jumps take off from the correct edge, spins go a certain number of full rotations, etc.). This new system takes the sport in a direction that somewhat emphasizes technical superiority over both artistry (a la Johnny Weir) and brute athleticism. Think of it as more archery than shotput. If this is the intent of TPTB in figure skating, then it worked. I think it's a good direction for the sport, and it's a way to rein it in a little while giving it a more focused direction. Then again, perhaps it's time to think about splitting the sport like Gymnastics. Athletic gymnastics is all about the flips, jumps, vault, beam, etc., while rhythmic gymnastics is all about artistry, flexibility and dexterity. Maybe figure skating is due for a similar split, sort of like ice dancing vs. pairs skating. In any case, using the new scoring system, I think the best guy won last night. Props to him.