Respiratory ignorance

Aug. 19th, 2017 10:37 am
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
[personal profile] mtbc
I have a good general science background that has served me well in my favored activity of learning about technical problems then devising software solutions. My biology background is probably the patchiest: while I worked in computational genomics, then was principal investigator on a half-million-dollar biophysics project, and now work in a computational biology division, my highest formal biology qualification is my B at GCSE.

I got to thinking about the different ways in which organisms respire. Cows and grass respire rather differently and some of the microorganisms breaking down the grass inside the cow do something different again. Yeast has multiple tricks which is how we can use it both in beer-making and in making our bread rise. I got to wondering, are there more ways of respiring? Further, could a single hypothetical organism practically employ all of them? I cannot recall anything real that can both photosynthesize and respire aerobically. I also do not know how universal the basic reactions are: I would guess that strange organisms like ctenophores still use ATP and similar.

Still, as usual with learning anything relevant to microbiology, it turns out to be more complex than I had hoped. To get a good handle on how these kinds of respiration may usefully coexist, even synergize, I now find that I would need a rather large blackboard for piecing the story together, to include the Krebs cycle and Calvin cycle and all manner of things, beyond the scope of what I can easily fit into when I am both unpaid and neither tired nor asleep. Separately I wonder why Americans have not turned aerobic into erobic.

Books I’ve Read

Aug. 18th, 2017 08:04 pm
ann_leckie: (AJ)
[personal profile] ann_leckie

Some books I’ve recently read and enjoyed! As always, none of this comes close to anything like a review, because reviewing isn’t a thing I’m good at.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing (yes, she’s related) specializes in treating London’s supernatural denizens–people whose safety might be at risk if most Londoners knew they existed, and who might not get any sort of healthcare otherwise. It’s not going to make her rich, and it’s difficult enough with her small practice to care for vampires, mummies, ghouls, and…other sorts of creatures, without someone going around trying to kill her patients.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the next installment. You can read the first chapter here.

Ack Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell

It took me way too long to read this, but that gives you some idea of how out of control my TBR stack is. Back in 2014 I was absolutely tickled when Ack Ack Macaque tied with Ancillary Justice for the Best Novel BSFA, and I was really glad to be able to meet Gareth in person at Worldcon later that year. Now I’ve finally read this! It was a lot of fun. In the wake of WW2, France and Britain have unified–look, just go with it, ok?–and a hundred years later there are nuclear powered airships, and actual monkey Ack Ack Macaque is the central character of an amazingly popular online multiplayer game. In the non-game real world, murders and skulduggery are happening and the very survival of everyone on Earth is at stake. This book is great fun, a quick, compelling read. I’m putting the sequels on my ever-growing TBR pile.

The Course of Honour by Avoliot

Okay, this one is kind of a bonus. As in, it’s free! You can click that link and find the Download button (up there in the righthand corner) and nab a copy in your favorite ebook format. Or, you know, you can read a chapter right here on your screen, and then click on to the next at whatever pace.

I want to thank Liz Bourke for tweeting about this, because I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’ve said before that I’m not much for category romance (though I do enjoy them now and again), but the fact is I’m a sucker for a good Arranged Marriage/Fake Marriage plot. And this was a good one! Jainan was married to Prince Taam of Iskat–a marriage arranged for political reasons, and when Taam suddenly dies [ahem] accidentally, the Emperor of Iskat declares that party-loving Prince Kiem will step up. And…look, I’ll just paste in the “additional tags” here, so you’ll see what you’re getting into:

Romance, Slow Burn, Arranged Marriage, Pining, past abusive relationship, space princes, Court Politics, Emotional Hurt/Comfort

Space princes. I mean. Seriously. Give it a look, and maybe leave some kudos if you like it.

Mirrored from Ann Leckie.

"What next?"

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:11 pm
graydon2: (Default)
[personal profile] graydon2
Warning: this has turned out to be a .. long post.

Recently, on the twitters, Stephanie Hurlburt suggested that it'd be healthy for people who have been around the computering industry for a while (*cough cough*) to take some "audience questions" from strangers. I obliged, and someone asked me an interesting one:

"After memory safety, what do you think is the next big step for compiled languages to take?"

Setting aside the fact that "compiled" languages have had various more-or-less credible forms of "memory safety" for quite a long time, I agree (obviously!) that cementing memory safety as table stakes in all niches of language design -- especially systems languages -- continues to be an important goal; but also that there's also lots more to do! So I figured I'd take a moment to elaborate on some areas that we're still well short of ideal in; maybe some future language engineers can find inspiration in some of these notes.

Before proceeding, I should emphasize: these are personal and subjective beliefs, about which I'm not especially interested in arguing (so will not entertain debate in comments unless you have something actually-constructive to add); people in the internet are Very Passionate about these topics and I am frankly a bit tired of the level of Passion that often accompanies the matter. Furthermore these opinions do not in any way represent the opinions of my employer. This is a personal blog I write in my off-hours. Apple has a nice, solid language that I'm very happy to be working on, and this musing doesn't relate to that. I believe Swift represents significant progress in the mainstream state of the art, as I said back when it was released.

That all said, what might the future hold in other languages?

so many things )

Helsinki, Worldcon

Aug. 18th, 2017 12:04 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.

In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.

more details )
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