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Friday, April 7th, 2017 02:21 pm
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/science/octopus-squid-intelligence-rna-editing.html

This is just fascinating, cephalopods (or, at least, the octopus/squid branch of that class) have been discovered to do extensive RNA editing, giving them access to much more complex protein building behaviors than most creature's far less dynamic

To quote the NYTimes: "natural selection seems to have favored RNA editing in coleoids, even though it potentially slows the DNA-based evolution that typically helps organisms acquire beneficial adaptations over time."

The first two extinction events:

* 439 Mya (Million years ago) Ordovician–Silurian Extinction
** "86% of life on Earth was wiped out."
** "Trilobites, brachiopods, and graptolites died off in large numbers but interestingly, this did not lead to any major species changes during the next era."

* 364Mya Late Devonian Extinction
** "75% of species were lost"

The ancestors of cephalopods "became dominant during the Ordovician period," that is 485.4–443.8 Mya -- before that first extinction event. It seems that octopii are pretty adaptable as they are -- physically changing shape, changing skin appearance, incredibly mobile. And now the genetics of the creatures seem to be pretty flexible and mutable as well.

My mind swirls with what ifs and curiosity: Surely we have lost cephalopod diversity with the extinction events. There's no reason to believe the most smart-like-human-smart creature lineages would have survived all extinctions. The cost of those extinction events to a slowly evolving lineage would be much higher than to us vertebrates. (And plants' capacity for diversifying genetics seems much more than animals' capacity) What if there hadn't been extinction events? What would the apex of cephalopod evolution be like then?
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 06:31 am
I've rung in the new year by planning out the gardening through the summer and ordering seeds. The vendor i'm using, Southern Exchange, was out of some of the seeds i'd picked out. In one case, i didn't mind because it gave me an excuse to choose the Seminole pumpkin as my winter squash: so much of what i will grow in the big plot is from the Americas. Apparently peanuts originated in the area now known as Argentina, before being adopted in some areas of Africa, and then ending up in the southeast.

They were also out of Roselle, the hibiscus that leads to the bright red infusion. This gave me an excuse to place a tree seed order with Sheffields, which includes both Roselle and a local native mallow, the native Yaupon holly (i've mentioned it's the one North American caffeinated plant?), native crabapple and pawpaw fruit trees, and the bitter orange.

We'll see if gantt chart level planning for gardening is less of a waste of time than it is for software engineering. Since it's all the same steps, i think it wasn't a waste: being able to link the schedule to N days before or after various climate dates seemed pretty efficient. I just wish i could extract it all from my iPad app with a bit more clarity. I think the best i can do is a screen grab of the calendar view.

--== ∞ ==--

Late yesterday afternoon we saw Arrival, which i recommend whole heartedly. I wonder if linguists cringe watching it. It is stunningly beautiful, and i'm glad to have seen it in the theater where the visuals could overwhelm me. I think of one science fiction novel where a language didn't have subject and object, but the verbs were bidirectional. I can't untangle how that language would express "I watched the movie" and "I read the book" given just how invested i am in being the actor on some consumed material. Well, no, the media infuse my mind.... anyhow. No spoilers for the movie, except to say the meditation of the movie is on yet another topic.

--== ∞ ==--

I am anxious about being back to work today. I feel all sorts of "behind" and ineffective, but there isn't a strongly concrete example. It's guilt and, i suspect, the deep ruts of procrastinatory habits developed during grad school.

I've not communicated with others over the end of the year. My parents are back from being with my grandmother, and each parent offers up behavior to cause worry. My mother has developed a pressure to get things out of their house that she can't pace. And so she drove over on New Years Eve to drop off two baskets and a variety of stuff when we planned to visit the next day. Written out it seems reasonable, but it's missing the context of her terrible lingering cough and the weariness from the travel to see my grandmother. Mom's drive, her need to get things done due to some internal expectation, was a lesson i learned that lead to some of my own imbalances. It's not a sustainable or healthy drive, as her lingering coughs and frantic arguments with my dad underscore, and in my learning it got tangled up terribly with depression. I think i am learning how to relax and rest: i hope she can do the same.

Dad forgot to take his heart medicine on Sunday morning, and so he was in his hyper goofy mood at lunch. My Dad worries Christine more than I, as i know his erratic behavior is "mostly harmless" but for Christine it is one great minefield of potential triggers. For me it is mostly wearisome as there's no way to connect. I do wonder how much of his clowning is some dysfunctional effort to deal with Mom: an image of a rodeo clown in the bull ring comes to mind. He had confided his concerns about Mom's level of being frantic and confused on the phone the day before. But then there is the odd reality of how these beta blockers affect his behavior. He's much calmer and grounded when he's taken the med.

--== ∞ ==--

I managed not to ring in the new year with a terrible case of poison ivy. My last work in the yard in 2016 was to hack into a vine running up one of the older pines. I might just get my arms around these pines, but i'm sure there are some with a girth i could not reach around. B came out with his drone this fall and measured the height of the trees for us -- they're 90' tall, which is an average height for a mature yellow pine. The poison ivy grows up the pines as one massive main vine until past the understory, and then the poison ivy radiates it's branches out at about 60' above the ground. It seems to be no harm to the tree, and i'm sure the fruit and branches of the poison ivy make for lovely bird habitat. I have mixed feelings about eradicating it, since the only negative is the seedling poison ivy and the occasional fall of leaves during a thunderstorm. Even then, any poison ivy i had this past summer was quite mild.

And what am i going to do with the dead vines? There's a tangle around one pine where the vine detached from the tree and fell, dead i suppose. But the oil that is the irritant persists.

http://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2012/10/how-to-get-rid-of-poison-ivy/ shows the type vine i'm talking about.

Anyhow, i've been urged to plan to eradicate the poison ivy and, since i had my machete and had been killing honeysuckle, i thought i might give the poison ivy on this one pine a go. The vine was as thick as my wrist, at least, and with the first hack a cloud of dust shook free from all the rootlets. I was up wind, and i figured that most of the dust was just plain dust. I've not developed any good technique with the machete - not much is needed for honeysuckle - so i took a while to cut through. Wood chips went everywhere, and i had no face protection. I soon was thinking how stupid it was to be doing this on a whim, but i figured i should finish what i started and then just wash everything. I seem to have come through unscathed.
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Saturday, April 11th, 2015 06:45 am
I have opinions about water district folks, and one of those opinions is that if a writer from Wired calls for comments, they are unlikely to reply. I suspect there's a good bit of, "Who the *&^ is this?" and, "I'm not going to talk to every curious grumble grumble grumble."

So when i read a Wired story about a fight over water releases for salmon late this week i filed the content under "ignore" and went looking for real news. Sac Bee articles were brief and not helpful (turning quickly to metering urban users and ripping out lawns). The Wall Street Journal railed against greens and Democrats. An article in the Western Farm Press answered my questions with clear and complete writing. I promptly left comment thanking the author, and then decided to write directly instead. And now Western Farm Press is added to my news feed.

--==∞==--

Feeling a bit drifty.
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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 05:14 pm
I noted my reading of Polychrome back on March 28th. Now you can too! If you are interested in a romantic fantasy or world building in Oz, check out http://seawasp.livejournal.com/477883.html.
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Monday, February 23rd, 2015 12:58 pm
Morgan, Colleen. “Where Are the Female Contemporary Archaeologists?” Middle Savagery. Accessed February 23, 2015. https://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/where-are-the-female-contemporary-archaeologists/.

Todd, Zoe. “An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn: ‘ontology’ Is Just Another Word for Colonialism (Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî).” Uma (in)certa Antropologia. Accessed February 23, 2015. http://umaincertaantropologia.org/2014/10/26/an-indigenous-feminists-take-on-the-ontological-turn-ontology-is-just-another-word-for-colonialism-urbane-adventurer-amiskwaci/.

So, for every time you want to cite a Great Thinker who is on the public speaking circuit these days, consider digging around for others who are discussing the same topics in other ways. Decolonising the academy, both in europe and north america, means that we must consider our own prejudices, our own biases. Systems like peer-review and the subtle violence of european academies tend to privilege certain voices and silence others. -- Zoe Todd
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Friday, August 29th, 2014 06:31 am
Whine )

I *am* getting better. I just resent this week.

One silver lining: being sick has allowed my ankles to continue to rest from the sprains earlier this summer.

--==∞==--

Last night we watched Netflix documentary Mission Blue: both wonderful and heartbreaking. http://mission-blue.org/ Sylvia Earle's life is amazing to ponder: a marine botanist and one of the first to use scuba gear, one of the first aquanauts, pioneer for women scientists, and witness to what may be the beginning of one of the great extinctions.

50% of coral reefs gone?

My recent reading has led me to spend time thinking about how the oceans probably have incredible evolutionary information. While plants may be the extremely long lived creatures of the land, underneath the waves animals live for a very long time:


There’s a 2,742-year-old Gerardia coral, and nearby, the 4,265-year-old Leiopathes, a
black coral related to sea anemones, both discovered in exceedingly deep waters off
the Hawaiian archipelago using a submersible vehicle—approximately 1,200 feet
down. Older still, in Arctic waters off the Norwegian shelf lives the 6,000-year-old
Lophelia pertusa coral, around 330 feet down.

The oldest animal on the planet could be the 15,000-year-old Anoxycalyx joubini
volcano sponge off the McMurdo shelf in Antarctica. I’m not sure of their exact depth,
but no one has visited the oldest among them face-to-face, in fact, as they were
found using a SCINI ROV—that’s “Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation
and Imaging Remotely Operated Vehicle.”

Sussman, Rachel; Zimmer, Carl; Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2014-06-03). The Oldest Living Things in the World (Page 265). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.


I tell myself that shallow coral reefs are unlikely to harbor ancient individuals, what with sea level changes and so on, but the species could have been ancient: ecological niches effectively and efficiently filled since the niche was discovered now empty?

And the fish stocks plummeting?

What heartbreak. What blindness. Sylvia Earle's eyes are wide open, and this documentary helps us all see.
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Monday, August 11th, 2014 06:55 am
Anki is a flashcard program that i highly recommend. It is free for most platforms (but iOS), and i happily paid for the iOS version.

Two features make it well worth it to me: one is that it supports spaced repetition, one of the highly recommended techniques in the "Learning about Learning" class. That means that the software, based on your feedback, varies how long it is until you see the card again, from minutes to months. It phases in the cards so you aren't overwhelmed, but have new material mixed with old. I'm beginning to have hope that i have a memory: i've just never known how to train it.

The other feature is the card flexibility. Simple "front and back" cards can be used in both directions (sometimes presenting the front, sometimes the back). A type of card called "cloze" prompts you for "fill in the blank" type questions -- multiple "blanks" can be defined on the same card. A sentence like, "An acid has an excess of H+ ions and has a pH of above 7," can be entered once, and used for three different cards:

*_____ has an excess of H+ ions and has a pH of above 7.
* An acid has _____ and has a pH of above 7.
* An acid has an excess of H+ ions and has a pH of _____ 7.

Pictures can be used. I've a custom card for people, now. I grab staff directory photos and prompt myself for someone's name, and on the same card i can prompt with a name and ask what they do, or ask what they do to prompt myself for a name.

It seems flexible enough to work through triggering all sorts of different memories, from academic, definitions, to affirmations, and other things that one might want to call to mind.
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Friday, May 31st, 2013 09:17 am
[profile] nellorat's recommendation reminded me of the recommendation i would like to make: Continuum. For the time travel fans, it's a story of characters pushed back in time. There's social commentary: the crux of the plot is the initial sentencing of a group convicted of terrorism, and the context of the terrorist action becomes thicker and complicated over the season. The "kill your own grandfather" paradox is handled in an interesting way: it's not clear if it's ever quite resolved. Relationships are interestingly complicated, and it is definitely a series designed to be consumed as a serial.

I devoured the first season far too quickly, and i'm delighted to a second season is listed on netflix. I will not click past the "2" in order to avoid spoilers.
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Saturday, November 10th, 2012 06:19 am
http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2012/11/ideas-that-stick.html

This is a lovely meditation on seeing the landscape and each other in the Now, as it Is not as we fixed the idea in our mind in the past.
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Saturday, May 26th, 2012 07:02 am
Interesting analysis:

Abstract –As in statistical physics, the concept of universality plays an important, albeit qualitative, role in the field of comparative mythology. Here we apply statistical mechanical tools to
analyse the networks underlying three iconic mythological narratives with a view to identifying
common and distinguishing quantitative features. Of the three narratives, an Anglo-Saxon and
a Greek text are mostly believed by antiquarians to be partly historically based while the third,
an Irish epic, is often considered to be fictional. Here we show that network analysis is able to
discriminate real from imaginary social networks and place mythological narratives on the spectrum between them. Moreover, the perceived artificiality of the Irish narrative can be traced
back to anomalous features associated with six characters. Considering these as amalgams of
several entities or proxies, renders the plausibility of the Irish text comparable to the others from
a network-theoretic point of view

http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.4324
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Thursday, December 10th, 2009 08:27 pm
At the Huffington Post, Robert Naiman's story headlined Obama Invokes "Just War," But Is the War in Afghanistan "Just"? begins
"Accepting Peace Prize, Obama Evokes 'Just War,'" notes the headline in the New York Times, referring to President Obama's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama did indeed invoke the concept of a "just war."

Writer Naiman goes on to pedantically review just war doctrine, explaining how the war in Afghanistan fails to meet the criteria, and notes how Obama never said it did: Obama simply invoked the concept.

INVOKE. NOT EVOKE.

It appears that the NY Times gets this because the headline now reads Accepting Peace Prize, Obama Offers ‘Hard Truth’, and the only 'voking mentioned is in the body of the text:
The Nobel chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, opened the ceremony by explaining how the committee came to its decision two months ago. He said Mr. Obama’s leadership had been a “call to action for all of us.” As he invoked the story of Dr. King, the winner of the prize in 1964, he turned to Mr. Obama, saying, “Dr. King’s dream has come true.”

My pendantic comment is not displayed: i wonder how many other pendants railed against the paper.



Meanwhile, The San Francisco Panorama is is stunning. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/sets/72157622964162740/ It's *huge*. I think the hugeness of it hits me because it is NOT half adverts, it is full of fascinating things to read and look at, and i'm full and i've hardly started.

Also, it's big and unwieldy. Kinda hard to hold.

But wow oh wow.

Now, i am *not* some Nicholson Baker fangirl who swoons at the thought of print (oh -- the ink doesn't rub off!). I *do* read long articles on-line and i *do* read comics on-line. I ... [gets lost in food section, drawn to the fifty some image story about butchering lamb....]
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Thursday, December 10th, 2009 06:43 pm
McSweeny's Issue #33

Oh My.

That's where i'll be for a while.


(Thank you Christine!)
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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 06:58 pm
Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them
http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/618.pdf

Given the extinction of megafauna in the Americas, what might have happened to the flora that depended on the megafauna for dispersal?

Fascinating article, recommended! ([livejournal.com profile] gurdonark & [livejournal.com profile] adamantine1 come first to mind.)
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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 06:09 am
Sorry about spamming LJ with the Torture Awareness post. I was having a frustrating time getting a successful post. I've had a weird thing happen with Wordpress where an edited post disappears from the interfaces -- particularly when it's issues with the timestamp -- but the post continues to exist if you go directly to the post number.

I finished The Enthusiast last night. In this rare occasion of me reading a recently published book, i'm hesitant to write what i think of how it concludes. The journey of reading it, all the way to the end, is pleasant and rich. I don't read many contemporary American novels, but I'd enjoy more like this one. There's both a contemporary humor and a sensual richness to the detailed descriptions of place and environs that appealed to me.

I think one of the things i don't like about the American novels i was reading in the 80s and into the 90s (and, hrm, yes i may have been too young for them, but i don't think that's it), was a certain jacked-up drama, a heightened focus on the anxieties of modern life, and a sense for me that the editorial act of writing was generally leaving out the gentle moments where we get the clues, tools, wisdom, to resolve those anxieties in a human day-to-day way.

The Enthusiast that captures the slow accretion of relationships, knowledge, wisdom. While the protagonist Henry Bey travels from small magazine to small magazine, exposing himself to different enthusiasts, everyone is an enthusiast to some degree, even, if there's not a name for it (yet). I'd argue it would take a remarkable person to not experience that slow accretion and, given the modern anxieties and concerns of life, not have the resources and catalysts at hand to change and grow under pressure.

I suspect that if you read Live Journals to connect with a broad group of people, both people who share your passions and people who are different, you might find The Enthusiast a rewarding read. (And then i want to ask you about the last chapter, although i'm growing to appreciate it more and more as i write this.) [livejournal.com profile] gurdonark -- you will be delighted by this book, i suspect.