I suppose this is what they call a blog. Except that blogs
are supposed to be updated more often than this is.
which calls itself "the world's greatest classical music magazine"
and can probably make a decent argument in support of that claim,
has put a complete archive
of its past issues on the web. For everyone. For free.
How, you might ask, will they now persuade anyone to
subscribe to their magazine?
The trick may be that their archive is produced by means
software, with the result that what's actually on the web
is perhaps better described not as "a complete archive of
their past issues" but as "a surrealist composition loosely
based on a complete archive of their past issues". Maybe it'll
get better; they have a handy button next to each paragraph
to let you report errors. Too bad that most paragraphs have
errors, often several of them, and that the most entertaining
errors are ones where two different articles have been randomly
Anyway, good stuff. Here's a random snippet that tickled
my fancy, from a review of a recording of the Goldberg Variations.
One recording, by an artist whom gallantry
prevents me from naming, would have sent the Count to sleep
from sheer boredom; he might well have taken refuge in sleep
as a means of escape from another, by a player living further
(The story being alluded to here is probably false,
but no matter.)
Times article is loathsome. If its loathsomeness isn't obvious
on a quick glance, you might like to imagine an article that begins like this:
A Jew man has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of pounds
from a local shop.
Moshe Davidson, who named himself after the Jewish prophet
when he converted to the religion, faces up to a year in prison
for breaking into the shop and ransacking its supplies of cash.
Davidson, who believes that he is part of God's chosen people,
was caught on CCTV smashing down the door and blowing open a large
(Yes, the second word is deliberate; it pretty much parallels
the correspondingly barbarous phrasing in the real article. And
yes, the transgenderedness of the subject of the real article
appears to have precisely as much relevance to her crime
as the Jewishness of the subject of my fake one has to his.)
It occurs to me that it's not un-heard-of for newspapers
to change their websites, so here for reference is how the
article begins at present.
A sex-change woman has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide
after her elderly husband was "exercised to death".
Christine Newton-John, 41, who named herself after the singer
Olivia Newton-John following her operation, faces up to five years
in prison for forcing her exhausted 73-year-old husband to swim
in the pool of their apartment complex in Chardon, Ohio.
Newton-John, who was born John Vallandingham, was caught on CCTV
dragging James Mason, around the pool by his arms and legs.
I recently read
Rhythms of Life,
a book about
I was very struck by (the currently most plausible guess at) the
underlying cell-level mechanism.
It's a negative feedback system, like a pendulum (which, as it
swings higher, also feels a stronger force pulling it back towards
the central position). Startling thing number 1: one crucial step
in the feedback loop is DNA transcription. I'd always
vaguely assumed that, roughly speaking, the instructions in a
cell's DNA determine how the cell is "built" and are more or less
passive thereafter (readers who actually know some biology,
please feel free to laugh at me at this point), but no.
Here's a simplified description of how it works: there are two
proteins (call them A and B), described by genes
a and b. Protein B promotes the expression
of gene a, but protein A attaches to protein B
and stops it doing this. So, the more A we have, the less A gets made;
if the details of how this works out are right, we get the sort of
negative feedback loop required to produce an oscillation.
Startling thing number 2 is how easily this produces entrainment
to the light/dark cycle. It turns out that A is degraded
by exposure to light, and this is enough. (Which shouldn't have
been surprising, since in general oscillators very easily get
entrained to anything in their environment, but it surprised me
So: suppose we have a stable 24-hour-ish cycle, and then
it becomes light earlier than "expected". Then A gets
degraded more rapidly, at around the time when it would have
been being degraded anyway, and so the cycle is a bit shorter.
Similarly if the onset of light is later than expected. If the
light period goes on for longer than expected, then again
A gets degraded faster -- but now at a time when
its quantity should be beginning to ramp up; so the cycle
becomes longer. And so forth.
Three caveats. Firstly, this is all oversimplified; for
instance, A and B are actually pairs of
proteins that work together, and there are other mechanisms
involved in, e.g., arranging for the period of the oscillator
not to be much too fast. Secondly, strictly it only applies to
fruit flies, and the corresponding systems in other organisms
aren't so well understood. Thirdly, lots of important details
(for instance, how the period of the clock manages to be largely
insensitive to temperature, when chemical reactions consistently
run faster at higher termperatures) are still unknown.