June 21st, 2017
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 10:10pm on 21/06/2017 under , ,
In The West Wing (1999) the senior White House staffers chronically work very long hours. How does this make sense? Is it good for their cognition to be ongoingly compromised? Can there not be enough staff to take on the workload? Perhaps the problem is that they would not be able to leave notes for each other or that they do not have enough room to put all the people or something. It does seem as if there has to be a more effective way for them to work. Maybe we are supposed to believe that they are so superlatively good at their jobs that even half-asleep they outperform some next-best people who might instead be on duty to catch some acute situation.
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 06:34pm on 21/06/2017 under , , ,
In the School of Life Sciences where I work we produce systems like the Image Data Resource which is full of strange pretty pictures acquired from expensive microscopes and used to justify scientific conclusions. There is also some initial proof-of-principle code for reproducing analyses via the IDR Jupyter Hub. OMERO.figure is also rather neat: turn the raw image files acquired from the microscope into figures ready for Adobe Illustrator to put into your paper; information in the figures like timepoints, scalebars, etc. is derived from the metadata encoded by the microscope as it acquired the images.

Modern academic life is highly competitive and journals are far more keen to publish interesting new discoveries, however lucky, so there is great career pressure report the right kinds of findings. Further, many of them turn out to be difficult to impossible to reproduce. Even despite this, my impression is that the kind of research misconduct I have in mind is, at its core, well-intentioned: the results may be a little doctored, or an unusually significant subsample, or whatever, but the researcher does generally believe the hypothesis that they are trying to prove, they are just exaggerating the evidence for it.

I figure that our work stuff might be useful if it helps to encourage a culture of sharing all the raw data and the procedures by which it was analyzed. But, I wonder if this papers over a more fundamental problem: that the people generating the hypotheses are also those testing them. I am amused to be thinking of this as a conflict of interest.

I can see why it happens. The people who have the idea are probably the more enthusiastic about testing it. Maybe not many labs are used to working with those cell lines or protocols or whatever at all so it is not like any lab could just pick up the work. And, even if we had a system where the people who generate hypotheses are separate from those who test them, one can see that there is still scope for mutual back-scratching and the like. One can imagine the specifics of the experimental design would be something of a negotiation between the hypothesizer and the tester.

So, I am not saying that even this pipedream idea of having researchers' hypotheses tested by third parties is a good one even if it were workable. But, I do wonder if there is some related but realistic way in which scientific research could be restructured to make it more trustworthy.
June 20th, 2017
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 08:42pm on 20/06/2017 under , , ,
An aspect of European Union membership that I greatly value is their focus on personal data privacy. This has similarly attracted me to the UK's Liberal Democrat party but rather less so: given how very little they bother to mention it in campaigning I would guess that they may not care as much.

I have been struck by how poor the BBC's choice is to soon make login compulsory for viewing content online. I have already mentioned how I would be fine with providing my television license number and how I do not want them to attempt to personalize their content for me. The compulsory login indeed relates to personalization: they want age, gender, postcode. In practice this is not yet a great burden to me because nothing in the process prevents me from simply lying for every login; I am a fan of services like BugMeNot. While the BBC do retain these personal details, their corresponding log of viewing history is indexed via some anonymized viewer identity code.

One facet of this that disappoints me is the BBC's naïveté. Their news archives now carry many years of history of very sensitive databases leaking from various organizations whose data security would have been expected to be good. If there are databases of everybody's details and television viewing habits being held by a well-known organization whose funding is often under political challenge then it will very plausibly leak regardless of prior public assurances made by ill-informed representatives. This risk is not so clearly worth the benefit that it ought to be imposed on all.

I am also intrigued by a contrast in attitudes between the US and the UK regarding how governments and corporations should handle personal privacy. Generally businesses are far more restricted in the UK than the US with regard to collecting, using and sharing our data, though perhaps only because of the EU. However, in the US the government is trusted far less: for example, it would be entirely normal for an American local library to not record my borrowing history but locally I am not even permitted to opt out of such.
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 07:55pm on 20/06/2017 under , ,
Especially in my house (1970s greenhouse) and my office (2013 'green' building).

I'm particularly cross about the office. It's lovely in some ways. It's very energy efficient. It has only passive cooling (except in the server room), which is just about OK when the temperature only goes up to 25 degrees. It then gets progressively less efficient, until at around 28 degrees it stops doing anything much at all. There's no dehumidifier. This means that my lungs crap out, and I start not being able to breathe very well, and my heart rate goes up even when I'm sitting still.
We have fans in the office, which keeps the temperature down to 'only' a couple of degrees above the outside temperature. It does fuck all about the humidity. Mysteriously, I can't really work when it's that hot - I have basically constant headaches, and have to mainline cool liquids (not too much water - hyponatraemia is no fun). This would be fine if there was such a thing as 'so hot they send you all home'. I *can* work from home; however, it's not much better there. It's only better at all because I can wear far fewer clothes than is acceptable even in my office.
I wouldn't mind taking a day off work from time to time. However, there are usually (well, OK, since I started working in this building) at least 5 days at around 30 degrees, plus another couple of weeks at 25+. That's too much time to take off work. I love the environment, and generally approve of not fucking it over egregiously, for the sake of all the people in the world who will be deeply affected by climate change. But trying to kill me off for 3 weeks a year (a total that's only likely to increase) isn't great either.
I'd like to have some air con, or at least some dehumidifiers. I don't want it American Cold (i.e. so bloody cold you need a jumper on) - I just want it kept to around 25-26 degrees, so I can at least not risk having a stroke.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
(1) I am a bit groggy and out of it post Minor Medical Procedure for Mystery Menstrual Symptoms; A was v good about shunting me around the hospital when I was too sore to particularly want to push myself/bringing me things/etc. Everything looked healthy; I was a Model Patient; biopsy results are unlikely to show anything concerning, so ??????????

(2) House viewing this morning was VERY CONFUSING. It has a garden! That contains a well-tended hydrangea, and rose bushes, and fruiting apple and plum and probably-cherry (there's definitely a cherry, I'm just not sure whether it's ornamental), and maybe a crabapple, and a vegetable patch, and a patio. And a nice kitchen. And the conservatory would be dining room/games room/music room and would be lovely esp. in the rain. So now I'm just trying to convince us (... myself) that we'd actually be able to fit the furniture into it, which is currently proving Difficult; I am intending to ask to have another viewing and actually take a tape measure this time. (Wider wheelchair just about fits in the front door. It's rampable. I should be able to get a powerchair in. There's an airing cupboard for letting dough rise in. Etc etc etc...)
grendelis: Cambridge UK related (cam)
posted by [personal profile] grendelis at 04:19pm on 20/06/2017 under , , , ,
While hiding from the unexpected extreme high temperatures in SE UK this week (31˚C around Cambridge for a few days!!). I am looking forward to Le Tour de France which starts on 1 July in Düsseldorf (w a Time Trial).

Highlights (and crazy bits) from Le Tour 2016
Mood:: 28.8˚C
watervole: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] watervole at 09:40am on 20/06/2017 under
 So many things I was going to post about: the folk festival I've been working on for the last year, the norovirus that meant I missed half of it, the children I've been teaching longsword to who did brilliantly at the festival, the sheer joy of watching Dame's Rocket morris and Northgate Rapper at close quarters, the fact that we have a bidding war on my mother in law's house after a year of trying to get any decent offer at all, but the thing that has actually got  me to keyboard is hedgehogs.

Up late last night due to the heat and sitting on the back doorstep to cool down.

Strange snuffling noise in garden and the mint swaying back and forth.

Sat down with Richard and sure enough, a hedgehog eventually emerged, then another and eventually there were three adult hedgehogs.

One was doing his/her own thing, but the other two were spending ages going round in circles under the mint and one of them was snuffling all the time.  I guessed (correctly) that this must have something to do with sex.   There's a nice little summery of hedgehog life here.

I put out a bowl of water while we were watching them and it wasn't long before one came over for a good drink.  S/he had no hesitation about coming within a few feet of us.  I put out a bit of cat food as well, but that was sniffed at and ignored.  (It was gone in the morning, but that could easily have been a cat)

We work with out neighbours on two sides to maintain holes in the fence where hedgehogs can come and go.

We have a lot of low growing plants which provide good cover.

We have a pond with soil sloping into the water on one side (so that even if an animal falls in, they can still get out).

We never use slug pellets (and have very little slug damage).

We add a lot of garden compost to the soil (which means lots of soil organisms for hedgehogs to eat.)

We have a compost heap which they'll hopefully use to hibernate.

Last year we had baby hedgehogs in the garden.  I wonder if the ones we saw today are those babies coming back?
June 19th, 2017
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
posted by [personal profile] kaberett at 11:36pm on 19/06/2017 under
hello everybody I know I owe a lot of you replies various and am working on it, my life should get a little less hectic for a while as of tomorrow morning unless we do make a snap decision to move house (~250m, positive reasons) once we've viewed a thing tomorrow morning, thank you for bearing with me, love meme is still open and is still getting a trickle of comments and I am working on responding to y'all, especially the folk I want to say thank you to for making me cry in a good way <3
posted by [personal profile] polydad at 05:54am on 19/06/2017
I'm just snapping out of about a week of funk. Haven't been letting my inner pirate/tyrant/monster/whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it out of its cage, and it got bored with me, curled up, and took a nap. Leaving me with not enough energy to run the rest.

I *seem* to have that momentarily resolved, and now it's being Warm. Not *Hot*, yet, but still excessively conducive to naps.
sparrowsion: (mini-sparrow)
These rules describe a game which has been given much thought but not play tested, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Rules of Tesseri )
Mood:: 'hot' hot
June 18th, 2017
posted by [personal profile] swaldman at 08:06pm on 18/06/2017 under ,
Theresa May is trying to make a deal with Arelene Foster to prop up a government, while Caroline Lucas and Kezia Dugdale disapprove. In Scotland, Ruth Davidson is now the main opposition to Nicola Sturgeon, despite making up in a lift[1]. I don't imagine that Leanne Wood is too happy about how things have turned out either.

We seem to have ended up in a period where the leaders of most of the significant parties - even if few of their second ranks - are women. And two of them are out lesbians. And we're not talking about this. Which I think is kind of awesome.

[1] If you haven't already seen that clip from The Last Leg's Jo Cox anniversary edition, watch it.
posted by [personal profile] swaldman at 01:57pm on 18/06/2017 under ,
See here for explanation.

17.A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke

Most things, if asked... the most recent one I did was A Whole New World (complete with the one-word substitution), with a student from El Salvador in Japan :-)
But if choosing, and if in the right environment, probably this - it's one of my favourite duets, and one of my favourite love songs, in musical theatre. And while Collins's parts in Rent sometimes go a bit low for me, I can manage this one.






muninnhuginn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] muninnhuginn at 01:49pm on 18/06/2017 under , ,
I finished the knitted skull and embroidered it. Not as pleased with the knit (the green yarn didn't play ball as well as the off white). But here it is:



Cool! I've never uploaded to YouTube before.
muninnhuginn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] muninnhuginn at 01:05pm on 18/06/2017 under
I failed to make anything new on Thursday, but did appreciate how part of Quentin Blake's skill is in implying the skeleton (and sometimes skeletal) within a creature.

Also, I amended, again, the translation:

Whatevers! in these sluggish times
That give nor joy nor shame to mull
The sole solution to our crimes:
The smiling rictus of the skull.

I think this is the finished version, although I dislike line two and would love to come up with a better.
muninnhuginn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] muninnhuginn at 12:58pm on 18/06/2017 under , , , ,
So, after an abortive search for an old piece of calligraphy I did based round the Verlaine "Quatrain" and in a week where I was dealing with arranging translations at work, I fell to thinking about attempting a translation myself.

Et voilà:



That was Tuesday. But all the next day there was something bugging me. Here's the Wednesday amendment:



Reads better, even if "smile" might be seen as weaker (and less accurate) than "laugh".

(Also on Wednesday, I started another knitted skull, which became Saturday's effort.)
posted by [personal profile] swaldman at 12:27pm on 18/06/2017 under ,
See here for explanation.

16.One of your favourite classical songs

What's "classical" in the context of "songs"? Does this count? It's at least 70 years old....


It's perhaps more famous as performed by the Andrews Sisters, but I like this version because by having male and female vocalists it works both ways. Unlike, say, it's 2015 imitation.


muninnhuginn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] muninnhuginn at 12:08pm on 18/06/2017 under , , ,
Busy week--and electricians at work on the house. (We still don't have enough sockets but the number of extension leads has diminished.)

Monday, I did this:
Skull silhouette on text background (!Quatrain" by Paul Verlaine)
The text is a poem (a lon-time favourite) by Paul Verlaine, which set me thinking....
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 08:40am on 18/06/2017 under ,
We are commonly told to spend a half-minute on brushing the teeth of each quarter of our mouth. I imagine that this idea entails having one central incisor in each quarter. Do people really divide their mouth into these even quarters for cleaning their teeth? Personally I divide mine into twenty unequal regions (2 × 2 + 2 × 4 × 2):
Central (incisors and canines),

  • upper jaw, lower jaw (2)

  • faces: front, back (2)

Side (premolars and molars),

  • upper jaw, lower jaw (2)

  • faces: front, back, top, far-end (4)

  • left, right (2)

I wonder how others do it. In interviewing my children I found that they too have their own systems that do not comfortably divide into these mouth-quarters.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 08:17am on 18/06/2017 under ,
I noticed that for a few chores getting them done takes the general form of starting then just keeping on with them. Progress is tangible, consistent and monotonic then they always terminate. This applies to mowing the lawns, wrapping Christmas gifts, exercising on the cross-trainer, ironing a pile of clothes, various kinds of thing. Usually the only thing stopping them from being completed is willpower to maintain the menial activity.

It is only in recent times that I have much noticed this class of chores which makes me wonder if now I do more of them. It seems as if there ought to be a name for it.

Whereas, say, some of my computer programming at work is not of this form. I may see a large task ahead of me and make myself buckle down and start chewing off the next parts of it. However, clear thinking and decision-making much affect the outcome. Technical risk can make progress unpredictably uneven and completion uncertain. Programming is thus in a different class of activity. Indeed, one of my tasks over recent weeks felt like it was over 80% done for over 80% of the time that I worked on it; the ongoing sense of now being nearly finished kept me from shelving it.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
I am grumpily insomniac; I have given up on sleep for the time being and have curled up in a blanket with some hot chocolate and a book; and probably this would be working better if The Fifth Season (which I am belatedly reading for Hugo purposes) wasn't Wrong about both geology and horses.

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