I, for one, welcome our new Turbulent Overlords from the Deep.

Jellyfish Are the Dark Energy of the Oceans

The fluid dynamics of swimming jellyfish have provided a plausible mechanism for a once-wild notion: that marine animals, hidden from sight and ignored by geophysicists, may stir Earth's oceans with as much force as its wind and tides. Called induced fluid drift, it involves the tendency of liquid to "stick" to a body as it moves through water -- and a little bit of drift could add up quickly on a global scale.

That the mere motion of animals could play a profound role in water-column commingling was once considered absurd. The sea would surely absorb the force of a flapping fin, to say nothing of a phytoplankton's flagellae. It was a basic principle of friction, applied to water.

But in recent years, this consensus has sprung some leaks. When added up, winds and tides don't quite provide enough energy to account for the amount of water-mixing observed in the seas. In 2004, a study found that a school of fish could cause as much turbulence as a storm. Other researchers soon suggested that ocean swimmers could account for the gap. Soon after that, ocean physicists measured enormous turbulence generated by a swarm of krill, a crustacean considered too small to have meaningful mixing effects.

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Who's got two thumbs and no bicycle?

←← This guy!

Stolen from the bike rack at the top of the BART stairs at 4th and Market, around 7pm. This bike lasted over three years, though, which is an all-time record since way back in the nineteen-hundreds. (Previously.) They didn't leave a broken lock behind, which is somewhat puzzling. It was a u-lock with one of the new-style flat keys with the dimples on them, whatever those are called.

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2009 music wrap-up

In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2009, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. In 2009, I acquired slightly less new music than I did last year, but with a higher ratio of new stuff: roughly 190 new releases but only 20ish old ones.

Many of these bands made appearances on the jwz mixtapes in 2008 and 2009, but I stopped compiling those mixtapes in March 2009, so I discovered many of these bands later.

I sometimes wish that I had kept up with the mixtapes, but at this point I've lost momentum. What killed that project was a conjunction of several things. I went to the South by Southwest festival in March, which kind of fried my brain, musically speaking. Before going, I listened to (or at least skimmed) each of the 1200+ tracks on the SXSW torrent in preparation. That took weeks. Then, after a solid week of seeing around ten bands a day, I returned home to dig through the music I had discovered there. That also took weeks. And at about the same time, there was the New Girl, and so she was pretty much the final nail in the mixtape coffin.

I find that now that I'm no longer spending the time each week to put together the mixtapes, I acquire music more slowly. I guess the act of compiling those tended to focus my acquisitiveness.

As last year, I have eschewed the task of writing short summaries of these albums, because that's a pain in the ass. Despite that, you should listen to these albums because I loved them and you trust me.

Number of these bands that I saw perform this year: 13.
Number of these bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 0.
Go Team.

Here's your shopping list:

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The Great Gravitar Attack of Ought Four. NEVER FORGET.

Anniversary of a cosmic blast

The sheer amount energy generated is difficult to comprehend. Although the crust probably shifted by only a centimeter, the incredible density and gravity made that a violent event well beyond anything we mere humans have experienced. The blast of energy surged away from the magnetar, out into the galaxy. In just a fifth of a second, the eruption gave off as much energy as the Sun does in a quarter of a million years.

Oh, and did I mention this magnetar is 50,000 light years away? No? That's 300 quadrillion miles away, about halfway across the freaking Milky Way galaxy itself!

And yet, even at that mind-crushing distance, it fried satellites and physically affected the Earth. It was so bright some satellites actually saw it reflected off the surface of the Moon! I'll note that a supernova, the explosion of an entire star, has a hard time producing any physical effect on the Earth if it's farther away than, say, 100 light years. Even a gamma-ray burst can only do any damage if it's closer than 8000 light years or so.

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ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho BRRRRRRRRRRRINGGG, BRRRRRRRRRRIIIIINNNNGGGGGGG, yip yip yip yip yip.



Horton Hears a Microbial Extinction Event

Bugs Inside: What Happens When the Microbes That Keep Us Healthy Disappear?

The human body has some 10 trillion human cells -- but 10 times that number of microbial cells. So what happens when such an important part of our bodies goes missing?

With rapid changes in sanitation, medicine and lifestyle in the past century, some of these indigenous species are facing decline, displacement and possibly even extinction. In many of the world's larger ecosystems, scientists can predict what might happen when one of the central species is lost, but in the human microbial environment -- which is still largely uncharacterized -- most of these rapid changes are not yet understood.

Meanwhile, each new generation in developed countries comes into the world with fewer of these native populations. "They're actually missing some component of their microbiota that they've evolved to have," Foxman says.

Previously, previously.

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The C Programming Language, by Brian W Kernighan & Dennis M Ritchie & HP Lovecraft

Exercise 4-13. Write a function reverse(s) which reverses the string s by turning the mind inside out, converting madness into reality and opening the door to allow the Old Ones to creep forth once more from their sunken crypt beyond time.
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Scratchbot Sees With Its Whiskers

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I keep thinking the bottom of the barrel has been breached, but no, there's always more.

Slumming on lolfbmoments.com:

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Christmas Doom from the Many-Angled Ones.

Overtime by Charles Stross.
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