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Sturgeon's House

I Learned Something Today


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Alawites are Shia in the most narrow, technical sense.  They're pretty secretive about their beliefs, but what has leaked to outsiders is bizarre.


The Iranians deciding that they are fellow Shia to be supported against the hordes of Wahhabist apostates is, AIUI, quite the development.  Most Shia had considered Alawites heretical hitherto.


But Iran has reached out to their brothers in Yemen, despite the fact that they're Twelvers and the Houthis are Fivers (I think), and backed up their Alawite brethren in Syria despite their ecumenical disputes.  And it's not like Sunnis aren't getting in on this new spirit of worldwide religious brotherhood!  The Turks have been quietly supporting terrorists freedom fighters among the Uygurs in China.  And let's not forget all those foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria!


Special Holiday Bonus Choose your Own Punchline Special



a)  When are Levayan Satanists in the US going to step up and start helping their poor, besieged brothers in northern Iraq?


2)  If this spirit of international religious brotherhood continues, the war may last decades!


c)  Whereas the US, being a purely secular state supports both sides.


d)  It's the sort of revival of transnational religious solidarity that would make Cardinal Richelieu smile.

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TIL Not only is there something called "Resting Bitch Face" but it is a scientific phenomenon and a phrase totally OK to ascribe to women as diverse as Kirsten Stewart, Anna Kendrick, Kanye West and Queen Elizabeth the Second.




I look forward to describing more women's facial expression as "Resting Bitch Face" because it is totally science and has been OK'd by cultural and media bastions such as CNN, Washington Post, HuffPo and Cosmopolitan and this makes it not at all misogynistic, sexist or demeaning. 

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There's actually a good reason why the landing gear on STS could only be deployed manually.


Once the gear dropped, it couldn't be retracted without ground support equipment, and they were worried about spurious signals from the flight control system dropping the gear too early (can't reenter with 3 huge holes in your heat shield).

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This doesn't quite fit then topic ("today I realised"? "today I will learn" ?) but anyway.


Today I realised that we are going to see our first verifiable case of gene doping within the next few years (I'd put money on 5-10).


Expect a promising athlete to develop a mystery medical condition and have to train in an isolated facility for a while (including a sterile living/training room) before returning to the sport with a noticeable increase in performance.


The trick here will be to use a gene drive in combination with aggressively knocking down the immune system. Post-treatment, the drive will work it's way throughout the body and edit pretty much the whole cellular population, while the immune system will be prevented from killing the patient via targeting of transformed cells or initiating an anaphylactic response to the drive components.


Once the patient is fully edited, a second drive may be used to erase the drive machinery itself. Alternatively, the drive might be cleverly engineered to self-excise when given a particular stimulus. Your athlete now has a totally edited genome providing greater muscle mass, oxygen carrying capacity, or whatever else you can stuff into an adult human. The edit, meanwhile, would be completely invisible unless you had access to prior genetic material from the athlete or the design of the drive was sloppy enough to leave behind a recognisable insert site. 

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I was reminded that there's actually a way to swap two variables without a third variable to use as a placeholder (just requires two or three compares and three add/subtracts so it's potentially worth using if you really really need to save a register and are willing to buy that with a few extra ops).


I also learned that some people apparently still believe enough in stupid tricks only really worth using in very specific cases and prone to causing some really fun integer overflow bugs if you forget that you need to break it down into cases to ask that on interviews and say it's something anybody sufficiently curious would have run into. The fuck.


Friendly reminder that we write code for the ease of use of the person maintaining it and optimize performance as a secondary concern unless there's a real critical section to performance.

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