Aizan reads stuff #6

Saturday August 17, 2019

Hello y’all. Long time no see here. Some interesting pieces that I read recently.

Get your work recognized: write a brag document, by Julia Evans. It seems stupidly simple, but then I realized that after reading this, I actually did a lot of things in the lab but I brushed 40-50% off because I thought those were trivial and inconsequential. Well after all, productivity in lab is mostly measure by the number of papers you write.

The Simple Genius of Checklists, from B-17 to the Apollo Missions by Nuclino. Reading this made me feel validated. I have 4 (Emacs) Org mode documents that I use as my checklist system. It has been running since I started using it a few months back. I am surprised that it has survived this far, considering the lifespan of my attention on an application could be gruesomely short. TIL from this article, the spacesuit that Armstrong and Aldrin wore had checklist written (sewn) on it. I am starting to consider to make a mini-checklist for doing experiment consistently every time. No, seriously. Here it says “checklist free up our mental RAM”, and I bet it does it very well!

Why viruses deserve a better reputation, a Q&A with a viral ecologist Marilyn Roossinck of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). Here is an article on viruses that help mammals and plants. I was surprised to learn that a group of virus helps plant to brace winter. How? By telling the plant to ramp up glucose production. Why? Because sugar makes thing freeze slowly. Now, that is very interesting.

Soviet Union’s collapse led to massive drop in carbon emissions. Intesting correlation. Not exactly the point of the story here, but hear me out: rich countries tend to eat more meat. Meat comes with a hefty carbon price tag. Decrease in meat consumption is associated with the decrease in carbon dioxide emission. Hence, eat less meat, we could have a (snowball) chance (in hell) to slow down global warming.

How genetically engineered viruses prolonged a teenager’s life. This needs to go on AmanzMY at some point. The biology here is less complicated. Probably, I would need a primer on antibiotic and antibiotic resistance. It is a less challenging concept to tackle because it does not involve a lot on the human immunology side. In this article, one of the main points is: even with phage therapy, your safest best to avoid resistance is with combinatorial phage therapy. One phage might be enough, but 3 is better. Also, since they re-engineered the phage, I was concerned about the rule regarding the export and import of GMO, which was answered in this article briefly but clear enough how they circumvented that law.

How to Write a Thesis, According to Umberto Eco. I bought the book on Amazon. To be honest, I do not know how much useful it is going to be for me. Two reasons: (1) the book seems to be catering for humanities/societies students; (2) I am just about to get into my 3rd year of grad school, still long way ahead before actually writing my thesis. I hope the content or parts of it are generalizable.

Migrating to open-source technologies. I was a bit surprised reading this, having known that CERN has pionered some open source technologies, HTTP being the example (by Tim Berners-Lee in 1994). The reason for the project: Microsoft has revoked CERN’s status as an academic institution. As the consequence, no longer blanket license (which does not have a steep cost) to per-user licensing (which would cost a ton). It would be interesting to take a look at this project, dubbed as Malt (Microsoft Alternative) in the next year or two. I am wondering how they planned to migrate away from Microsoft AD (if they used it) and Outlook (if they used it).

Gene-Edited Babies: What a Chinese Scientist Told an American Mentor. Few months back, I skimmed this quickly, looking for interesting bits. I learned some interesting things about the nature of this issue. Went back to read this again. NYT being NYT, of course it does not allow me to read it with private browsing. Saving this here for now, probably might (not) come back later.

Eleventy and Ghost. With the addition of Ghost content API to their system, Ghost can now be de-coupled from a full blogging CMS to part back-end powered by the Ghost dashboard and part front-end, powered by anything that can consume the content API. In other words, Ghost can now serve with an SCG-like front-end, making it much more faster to serve content especially on a high traffic website.