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Guest Post - Mathematicians in the Agriculture News

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.23.17

Nick S. writes: Finding new things to worry about, but the article is very interesting:

Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton. Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world's oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them--increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn't work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat--but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. . . .

Heebie's take: It is a super interesting story and problem. He had trouble getting funding because his work was too out-of-the-blue for people to slot it into existing categories. But basically, they're finding that excess carbon makes the plants grow a lot, but with less nutrients and more sugar in them.

Once you hear it, it actually seems very intuitive - it's like the kudzu-ing of crops. The Walmart-ing of crops. The styrafoaming of crops.


 

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There's no pony.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.22.17

Helpy-Chalk wrote elsewhere about a classroom discussion on Bullshit he was preparing to have. Among the many smart points made, I was struck by this one, "The essence of bullshit is not the truth of the statements, it is the bad faith of the bullshitter," which HC informs me is the central point of Frankfurt's essay here.

I don't know why I've never thought of that so directly, but I royally wish I'd had it at my fingertips a few weeks ago, when I was lurking on an argument about whether or not Greg Abbot had pwned some Democrat, maybe a Castro brother?, on the deservingness of immigrants not to have their immigration status challenged during Hurricane Harvey. Yes, Abbott may have uttered nice-sounding words first, but! but!


 

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Hemingway, colossal bore

Posted by Ben
on 09.21.17

Also boor.


 

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ICE

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.21.17

Strangled noises of disbelief and frustration: Border Patrol Arrests Parents While Infant Awaits Serious Operation. I hope ICE agents go down in history as fucking SS thugs or something. They are some of the most grotesque institutional monsters.


 

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Called It

Posted by Ogged
on 09.20.17

This is...amazing.




 

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What's up today?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.20.17

1. These fucking Republicans and their fucking hatred of non-wealthy people receiving health care. We fucking defeated this bill twice, MITCH, do you not remember? It's impossible to imagine any of the three hold-outs switching after the grand finale last time. And yet, it's not quite impossible, because Republicans are terrible people.

2. The poor people of Mexico City. I have a terribly dumb question. There is no way that earthquakes are affected by climate change, right? Having two big earthquakes in a row in the middle of hurricane season is too much for my pattern-drawing reptile brain to not create a superstition.


 

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Guest Post - "I want to be the Oscar Wilde of games"

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.20.17

Nicks S. writes: I recommend this interview with Zoe Quinn, who has interesting things to say about gamergate, how to think about regulating the online environment, and what happened to her life.

Zoë Quinn: I don't look like what a very vocal minority perceives as the default gamer, which is straight white guys that don't really have a whole lot going on. I'm none of those things, other than white. I make weird games that don't resemble closely mainstream stuff like Call of Duty or Mario, so I think it was easy for them to look at me and perceive me as an invader, which is really sad because I think a lot of us end up in games not only because we love them but because they're something that helps with other chaos going on in our lives.

Sean Illing: So I confess to knowing almost nothing about this world. I have this caricatured image of the lonely, alienated male nesting in his parents' basement in coffee-stained sweatpants. And when I think about that, it makes perfect sense that a non-controversy like this could spin into a resentment-fueled, half-ironic hate campaign against someone like you.

Zoë Quinn:No, I don't think that's an accurate characterization of the game world at all. The thing is, Gamergate wasn't because of games. Games were really an afterthought. The fact is, there's been campaigns like this across a bunch of different industries. It's a symptom of this larger brewing negative sentiment toward anybody that could be perceived as other.

The further away you get from the 1950s sitcom dad, the more people there are out there that hate you. All of the bigotry and hatred and stuff that happens offline definitely translates online, so really this was just the game-flavored version of that rather than something that is unique to games.

Sean Illing:So you really don't see what happened to you as a product of the underbelly of gaming culture?


Zoë Quinn: I really don't. I mean, this is our world, the broader world -- not simply the gaming world. Look at who's running the country right now. It's really not unique to games at all. There are people like this all over the place, and some of them happen to play games.

Heebie's take: hoo-boy, I do not know.


 

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Better! Faster! Hotter!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.19.17

Are pressure cookers having a moment? Why do people love them so much, and should I?

I keep seeing these status updates by people saying they cooked this gorgeous meal in 11 minutes, and it feels a little like the hypothetical bullet train that will one day connect San Antonio to Dallas in eight minutes flat. 7 minute abs. Razors with 6 blades. A whole razor blade wall that works your abs while you shave to Dallas in quick hot soup.


 

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a bundle of topics

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.19.17

A few old links I've been hanging onto:

1. Putin's Plot to Get Texas to Secede. It's basically an overstated headline, and should be Putin's Generalized Plot to Destabilize Western Governments Finds a Lot of Useful Idiots in Texas, but still.

2. Why aren't trains evacuating people from the path of Hurricane Irma? Indeed. It's an excellent question, but it's just not that puzzling an answer.

3. Not a link, just an idle thought that isn't worth a whole post: In sports, you're always supposed to be on the balls of your feet, in ready position. In weightlifting, you're supposed to plant your foot firmly for maximum stability and balance. Now I can't remember how I naturally go up stairs. Both seem right.


 

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Alford Plea

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.18.17

You know when you've been wrongfully imprisoned for decades and the DNA evidence now exonerates you, but the state prosecutors don't want to look like they have egg on their faces? They use what's called an Alford Plea:

But in Baltimore City and County alone -- two separate jurisdictions with their own state's attorneys -- ProPublica identified at least 10 cases in the last 19 years in which defendants with viable innocence claims ended up signing Alford pleas or time-served deals. In each case, exculpatory evidence was uncovered, persuasive enough to garner new trials, evidentiary hearings or writs of actual innocence. Prosecutors defend the original convictions, arguing, then and now, that the deals were made for valid reasons -- such as the death of a key witness or a victim's unwillingness to weather a retrial. The current state's attorney in Baltimore County, Scott Schellenberger, said that "prosecutors take their oath to get it right very seriously" and wouldn't stand in the way of exoneration if the facts called for it.
The menace of such deals, though, is clear: At worst, innocent people are stigmatized and unable to sue the state for false imprisonment, prosecutors keep unearned wins on their case records and those of the department, and no one re-investigates the crime -- the real suspect is never brought to justice.

So the falsely imprisoned person still has the crime on their record for the rest of their life, and is stuck just trying rebuild their life, and everyone just agrees that clearly this path is much easier for the state.


 

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