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It's not a tumor!

Posted by Ben
on 06.23.12

Lots of sites and people that and who really ought to know better are claiming that the google doodle up in honor of Alan Turing is a "Turing machine". It's not. It isn't! Just because there's a tape, that doesn't make it a Turing machine! The doodle dealy resembles far more closely google's new graphical programming language. Ok? Turing machines don't have conditional branching of control flow (or "control flow"), they don't have looping constructs, they don't finish when "control flow" goes off all the way to the right.

It is true that you could model the behavior of any of the doodle things using a Turing machine, but that's not the same.

So don't YOU be tempted to claim that it is one, either.


 

horizontal rule

 

If trees clicked, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.23.12

This is neat:

[Monica Gagliano], along with fellow researchers Stefano Mancuso and Daniel Robert, used powerful acoustic instrumentation which allowed them to hear clicking sounds coming from the roots of corn saplings. They also found that when they suspended the young roots in water and played a continuous noise at 200 Hz - a similar frequency to the clicks - the plants grew towards the source of the sound.
Gagliano and her team concluded that plants are indeed communicating with each other by making clicking sounds that travel easily through soil. It's thought that, like the methyl jasmonate, these signals are warning of incoming threats.
The discovery shows that the role of sound in plants, a field of study referred to as bioacoustics, has yet to be fully explored and understood. It's quite possible, notes Gagliano, that some form of sensitivity to sound and vibrations may also play an important role in the life of plants.

 

horizontal rule

 

Congratulations!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.22.12

My friend finally ended her disastrous relationship and will be moving back into her own house. What would she like in her care package from me?


 

horizontal rule

 

Guest Post - lw

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.22.12

I have been thinking about large-scale technical failures lately, airports in particular. Denver, Heathrow, and Berlin all had major failures in attempting to expand their airports. Software that manages much larger numbers of entities then a day's worth of baggage and passengers is common, and while not easy to write, is not at all cutting-edge. For instance, cellular networks are now successfully deployed in places with very unreliable electrical infrastructure; there is open-source software for managing a cellular network.

This essay about the interface between employee workflow and software was interesting reading. People have personalities and conflicts, while cellular traffic doesn't.

She makes the point that China's terminal expansions have been successful because of heavy rehearsal. OK fine, but surprising. First off, autocratic building methodology often leads to huge resource waste and safety problems (Chinese high-speed rail, eg) rather than flawless operations and good design. This failure mode due to there being no good way to send information to decision-makers in autocracy, so they are mighty but blind. Secondly, my limited experience with Chinese organizational style suggests that there must have been extreme pressure from above for the airport expansions to go smoothly. So, in comments, please explain to me how large organizations work, both interpersonally and financially, also, please explain how to think about contemporary China.


 

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Here's a little story I got to tell

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.12

Hawaii said "I did it like this" and so I started singing Paul Revere, and she stared at me agape for the entire thing. When I finished, she asked me to sing it again. Then she sang a bunch of jumbled up rhythmic nonsense involving punching piano players in the face. Serious highlight of parenting.


 

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Congestion

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.12

I'm going to go ahead and confess that when I pull up to a 4-way stop at the same time as other cars, I have no idea what to do. As far as I can tell, the rules are to make eye contact or wait for someone to be assertive and go. Or to just be that person.

(I know the person on the right gets to go, but I lose that thought in the moment. (( Who is furthest right in a circle?)) Especially if there are three cars present. Especially a five-way intersection with stop signs. There are several heavily trafficked four-way and one five-way that I come to often, so this comes up.)


 

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It's plump it's plump it's plump. It might be dead.

Posted by Stanley
on 06.20.12

I just picked up some raisins in order to make GORP, and I was surprised to read this tip on the "Storage & Handling" section of the label:

pasas.jpg

There are people out there plumping their raisins? To what end does one plump a raisin?


 

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Adventure Playgrounds

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.12

The rise and fall of adventure playgrounds in New York. I wish there were more photos in the article.

When we've taken road trips, fast food places with playscapes have been a life-saver. I find myself fascinated by their utter injury-free design. A series of tubes going up two stories, with platforms encased in netting, and a ballpit near the bottom. There is no drop more than two feet that a child can possibly find. Totally monotonous and un-inspired, but clearly designed so that an unsupervised three year old there cannot possibly get hurt.

via AWB


 

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U-Va

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.12

Everybody sure is het up about the U-Va scandal. Cecily helpfully directed me to some links.

I'm being flip about it, but I loathe the impulse to run colleges and universities more like businesses. It's not quite the "the consumer model" of higher education, where students/parents feel entitled to dictate what they want from their product. That I can at least understand - if you're going $10K in debt, you don't want to be jerked around along with it. But when the capitalist impulse comes from the administration/board of regents side of things, you end up strangling the institution.

It's just not a profitable venture to educate people. It's resource-intensive, and the benefits extend to all of society when it's done well. People like Dragas are so fucking short-sighted.


 

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Renditions

Posted by Stanley
on 06.19.12

Man, these guys are really good at covering Toto's "Africa." And a bunch of other songs.

It's a weird thing to be good at: covering other people's music really well. But that's generally what I go for when I play with cover bands, so I appreciate the effort. It's not half-assed, you know?


 

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Bad ideas, snip edition

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.12

I had no idea that sometimes the mohel sucks away the baby penis blood with his mouth. Sometimes the babies get herpes from the mohel, so they should probably stop this variant of circumcision.

Via Cecily


 

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Fresh Salt Wednesday 6/20?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.19.12

There's interest in a meetup before Unfoggetarian pauses endlessly and leaves NYC. I migh or might not be able to make it, but anyone who can should come to FS after work tomorrow.


 

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Rainbow Fish

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.12

Rainbow Fish is a book I never heard of before having kids, but it's pretty popular these days. Hawaiian Punch's class created rainbow fishes at daycare, out of CDs, for example.

Plot synopsis: Rainbow fish has beautiful scales. Little blue fish asks "Can I have one of your scales?" Rainbow fish says no. Rainbow fish loses all his friends and is very unhappy. Goes on a journey to find out how to be happy. Wise old Octopus says "Give away all of your beautiful scales, and you will be happy." Rainbow fish does not like this idea at all.

Little blue fish comes around again and asks for a scale. This time Rainbow fish gives him one. Starts to feel a little better. Other fish come around and want a beautiful rainbow scale. Rainbow fish obliges and obliges until his scales are all gone. But now he has lots of friends and he's happy. The end.

According to the Wiki page, this book is controversial because it promotes socialism. In that interpretation, the beautiful scales represent wealth. BUT! OR! HEY! Possibly the beautiful scales represent beautiful scales, and the Rainbow fish literally has to give away his body to whoever wants it, in order to achieve happiness. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.


 

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This is crazy!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.12

But obviously "Call Me Maybe" is bubble gum pop at its very finest.


 

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The worst of the mild

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.18.12

To me, a light headache is the most unpleasant of the minor aches and pains. I'd rather be mildly nauseated, or have mild muscle aches and pains, or cold symptoms, than a headache. This assumes that we can compare such pains and assert that they are "equivalently bad", which we can, measured obviously in mouse-orgasms.

I do in fact have a light headache. I just took some Tylenol, though, which tends to knock them out pretty speedily.


 

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