The Helical Model: Our Solar System is a Vortex


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Parental sysadminnery: now less "reinstall the OS", more "password insufficiently complex".

That's the new "PC LOAD LETTER".

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Sensual Santa

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Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie versus Ensenada Taboo Planet-Et

The Perfect Milk Machine: How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry

Before he had a single daughter producing milk, the United States Department of Agriculture took a look at his lineage and more than 50,000 markers on his genome and declared Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie the best bull in the land. And, three years and 346 milk- and data-providing daughters later, it turns out that they were right. [...]

The bull market (heh) can be reduced to one key statistic, lifetime net merit [...] When you add it all up, Badger-Fluff Fanny Freddie has a net merit of $792. No other proven sire ranks above $750 and only seven bulls in the country rank above $700. One might assume that this is largely because the bull can help the cows make more milk, but it's not! While breeders used to select for greater milk production, that's no longer considered the most important trait. For example, the number three bull in America is named Ensenada Taboo Planet-Et. His predicted transmitting ability for milk production is +2323, more than 1100 pounds greater than Freddie. His offspring's milk will likely containmore protein and fat as well. But his daughters' productive life would be shorter and their pregnancy rate is lower. And these factors, as well as some traits related to the hypothetical daughters' size and udder quality, trump Planet's impressive production stats.

One reason for the change in breeding emphasis is that our cows already produce tremendous amounts of milk relative to their forbears. In 1942, when my father was born, the average dairy cow produced less than 5,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime. Now, the average cow produces over 21,000 pounds of milk. At the same time, the number of dairy cows has decreased from a high of 25 million around the end of World War II to fewer than nine million today. This is an indisputable environmental win as fewer cows create less methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and require less land. [...]

While we may worry about the use of antibiotics to stimulate animal growth or the use of hormones to increase milk production by up to 25 percent, most of the increase in the pounds of milk an animal puts out over the pastoral days of yore come from the genetic changes that we've wrought within these animals. It doesn't matter how the cow is raised -- in an idyllic pasture or a feedlot -- either way, the animal of 2012 is not the animal of 1940 or 1980 or even 2000. A group of USDA and University of Minnesota scientists calculated that 22 percent of the genome of Holstein cattle has been altered by human selection over the last 40 years. [...]

No matter how you apportion the praise or blame, the net effect is the same. Thousands of years of qualitative breeding on family-run farms begat cows producing a few thousand pounds of milk in their lifetimes; a mere 70 years of quantitative breeding optimized to suit corporate imperatives quadrupled what all previous civilization had accomplished. And the crazy thing is, we're at the cusp of a new era in which genomic data starts to compress the cycle of trait improvement, accelerating our path towards the perfect milk-production machine, also known as the Holstein dairy cow.

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

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;;; -*- lexical-binding: t -*-

Apparently I did not get the memo that hell had actually frozen over:

To use lexical binding, an Emacs-lisp source file must set a file-variable `lexical-binding' to t in the file header, e.g., by using a first line like:

;;; -*- lexical-binding: t -*-

Even in a source file that uses lexical binding, global variables declared with `defvar' are always dynamically bound.

Previously, previously.

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"Sensible", he says.


Gazelle is a rewrite of an aborted project, jsel, which aims to be a sensible Lisp for Javascript. By "sensible" I mean it adheres to the following ideas: [...]

Unsensibly, Gazelle is written in Emacs Lisp. I'll port it to Common Lisp eventually.

Previously, previously, previously.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein this month is packed, and there are photos to prove it.

Photos from last week:

The End was pretty crazy -- it was all four rooms, and they filled them. They spent all day (like, six hours) building this Mayan pyramid thing out of plywood on the main stage: it was two levels, so Zion I was rapping at the normal stage level, and his DJ was like 8' above him.

This Can't End Well covered Shut Up Woman Get On My Horse, a song that is near and dear to us here at DNA Lounge. I'd tell you to listen to it on the webcast, except, ha ha, no webcasts yet from Above DNA. Maybe soon. I dunno.

The Above DNA shows have been lightly attended, but it still feels really good up there. It's the right-sized room for the kinds of shows we've been getting so far. We don't really know yet what the maximum comfortable capacity of that room is, because we haven't reached it yet. Funny thing: the last four shows we've had up there had attendance of 74, 78, 74, and 77 respectively. I'm noticing a pattern.

Also we have just booked a last-minute 18+ dance party for this Wednesday, the day after Christmas. This was supposed to be some party up in the Santa Cruz mountains that is going to get rained out, so they moved it here.

That means we will have only been closed two days in all of December! Wow!

So, you know, if you're looking for something to do this week, we've got you covered.

The $20 tickets for Bootie New Years Eve are sold out, and the $30 tickets are going fast! It will go up to $40 soon, and will sell out shortly thereafter.


What Kind of Dinosaur Meat Would Taste Best?

Bookmarking this in my time machine:

"You could get into cuts of meat. Armored dinosaurs mainly used their tails for defense, so that would probably be a lot of good white meat. Hadrosaurs were quadrupedal and spent much of their time on the move; I suspect they would be largely red meat," Varricchio says. Sauropods, the largest animals to ever walk the earth, may have made for an interesting meal as well. Their long necks, used to reach high-up food sources, could have resulted in a unique cut of sturdy red meat weighing several tons. Says Varricchio, "Sauropod neck could be a delicacy."

Previously, previously, previously.

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Gee, thanks Twitter.

You no longer get to drink from the firehose. Morons have no longer invaded your screen saver.

Some time recently Twitter turned off the feeds of public twits. Turned them off entirely instead of just rate-limiting them or something. There's a new API to provide a "small random sample of public twits" but it requires authorization via an API key.


Suggestions for a public replacement URL to make be the default text-source in future releases of xscreensaver?

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

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Cyriak's Spirit of Christmas

Scene missing! A video in this post has disappeared. If you know of an accessible version of this video (search), please mail me so that I can update this post.
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