learner's permit

Wow – whatta weekend. Friday night was the outstanding Ratbastard “I’ve got a spiff house and you don’t so phhhhbbbttthhh!” party, where I (and The Wife) got to hang out with Fred again, in addition to meeting the decidedly un-bastard-ly host, as well as the newly-married Mike, everybody’s favorite anarchist librarian, Jessamyn, and several other interesting people whose URLs I don’t know. An excellent time was had, if not by all, then at least by me, and hey, that’s really what counts. (Pix are up on Mike’s site.)

Not everybody in the area had such a good weekend – for example, I’m sure some people over at Celera were putting in some extra time after Friday brought two stockholder lawsuits. Life gets more and more like Cryptonomicon every day…

The Washington Post had some morning-after Love Bug analysis, with some biological analogies. I’ll admit that I’m no virus expert, but the biological tie-in seems superficial and a bit forced at times, and if I were just a tad more cynical, I’d wonder how much of it was just an attempt to sell more anti-virus 'ware, dressed up as ‘digital immunity’.

Well, after the Lisp-based Sawmill^WSawfish, you knew it was just a matter of time: perlwm. I’ll stick with Sawfish for the moment, I think.

RecBC doesn’t unzip one or two bases at a time, but rather 23! It’s does this with an interesting inchworm-like motion. The enzyme functions to separate double-stranded DNA into two separate strands prior to DNA replication, and was thought to take much smaller ‘steps’.

Some of the guys from my old user group are getting some notice for the work they’ve done in outfitting a Tucson primary school computer lab with Linux. Way to go, guys!

What happens when experienced coders try to learn Perl, if their only experience is with COBOL? Well, for starters, the teacher learns some interesting things. I’m still working my way up the C learning curve, making progress, but not at that point where it all opens up yet.

An interesting letter to Nature. Does the Open Source software model map onto genome sequencing? Clearly, Celera is Microsoft, and the Human Genome Project is the FSF, or maybe the Debian team. Who’s Red Hat in this model? Without a Red Hat, why should Celera quit being Microsoft? I mean, ethics aside, it’s all well and good to have a business plan than involves selling support for a free product, but if you can charge for the product at the same time, why not do it? The problem with this analogy is that that Open Source software replaces commercial offerings, but it’s not exactly the same. Celera and the HGP are trying to get the same sequence, so the model doesn’t work. (And yes, I know that Celera’s sequencing an individual while the HGP is doing a mosaic, but that actually works in Celera’s favor, I think.)

(Complete aside: Anybody want to bet whose DNA it is? My money is on Venter.)

To zzxyz: Agreed, defining terms is pretty important. I’ll do ‘socially constructed’, and leave ‘sex’ to you. In the context we’re talking about, ‘socially constructed’ would be any behavior that does not have an analogue in the mating behavior of other vertebrates. Examples: buying a Porsche == peacock tail. The Biblical custom wherein a man marries his brother’s widow == nothing I know of in other species. The first is not a ‘social construct’, it’s a ‘biological imperative’. The second is a ‘social construct’. Back to you.