The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog


New Scientist explains Saccharomyces cerevisiae, better known as brewer's yeast:

While we take yeast's brewing abilities for granted, they are in fact rather surprising. Most organisms that generate energy from sugars to use oxygen to break the molecules down into water and carbon dioxide. The energy this releases is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that cells use for fuel. In this process, known as aerobic respiration, each glucose molecule yields about 36 molecules of ATP.
S. cerevisiae, however, spurns oxygen. Instead, it converts sugars into ethanol, generating a meagre two molecules of ATP per glucose molecule.

Hoist a glass and enjoy!

Today's Daily Parker

Even when he's not being bad, he still looks guilty:

Probably no Daily Parker until Tuesday. Have a wonderful holiday, and don't eat the sofa. (I mean you, Mr. "Who Me?".)

Oh, the pain

I'm listening to the Bush (762 days, 1 hour) press conference on NPR. He's an embarrassment to the country.

Update, 9:08 CT (15:08 UTC): Did he just tell us to shop more?

Update, 9:19 CT (15:19 UTC): We will succeed in Iraq, apparently. We just haven't defined what that means yet.

Update, 9:21 CT (15:21 UTC): "Victory in Iraq is achievable. It just ha'n't happened as quickly as I'd-a liked."

Update, 9:28 CT (15:28 UTC): He's talking about switch grass again. And, of course, nucular power, which "does not emit one greenhouse gas."

Update, 9:40 CT (15:40 UTC): The sectarian violence hasn't gone right. In other words, he had no idea that there would be Sunni-on-Shia violence. So it must be Syria's and Iran's doing.

Update, 9:51 CT (15:51 UTC): "We're in the beginning of an ideological's gonna last a while." I guess he didn't hear about Muhammad starting a new religion about 1400 years ago.

Security Theater

The New York Times (reg.req.) has finally picked up a year-old article by security expert Bruce Schneier, taking the TSA to task for concentrating more on theater than actual security:

FOR theater on a grand scale, you can’t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration.
As passengers, we tender our boarding passes and IDs when asked. We stand in lines. We empty pockets. We take off shoes. We do whatever is asked of us in these mass rites of purification. We play our assigned parts, comforted in the belief that only those whose motives are good and true will be permitted to pass through.
Of course, we never see the actual heart of the security system: the government’s computerized no-fly list, to which our names are compared when we check in for departure. The T.S.A. is much more talented, however, in the theater arts than in the design of secure systems. This becomes all too clear when we see that the agency’s security procedures are unable to withstand the playful testing of a bored computer-science student.

Four billion dollars to airport security that doesn't work. Could we expect anything more from this Administration (762 days, 2 hours left)?

Today's Daily Parker

I know, I've been a little delinquent with TDP posts. And today I'm actually phoning it in.

First, Danielle's question, "Where is Parker?" As far as I know, Parker is at home asleep on our bed. The ParkerCam shows nothing but a chewie because that's the last image from when he was here yesterday. Despite the caption, he's not in the office today, so there isn't a new ParkerCam image. Check back tomorrow morning.

Second, the couch destruction continues apace. Here is our dear looking innocent:

And not so innocent:

It's actually painful to watch him disembowel the sofa. Nothing, not even "no-chew" liquid nor yelling at him, seems to help.

User interfaces in film

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen takes on the remarkable UIs that appear in film:

Break into a company—possibly in a foreign country or on an alien planet—and step up to the computer. How long does it take you to figure out the UI and use the new applications for the first time? Less than a minute if you're a movie star.
Countless scenes involve unauthorized access to some system. Invariably, several passwords are tried, resulting in a giant "Access Denied" dialog box. Finally, a few seconds before disaster strikes, the hero enters the correct password and is greeted by an equally huge "Access Granted" dialog box.

At least we no longer have large bipedal robots shouting "Danger! Danger!"

And another thing

I also forgot to mention, because it happened while my office DSL was down (cutting off my Web servers from the world), that this past Friday had the earliest sunset of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ordinarilly at a juncture like this I would write a dissertation on why the earliest sunset precedes the latest sunrise by four weeks, or why neither coincides with the solstice, but I'll spare you for now. No, the sun is setting later now, but the sun is also rising later, until January 4th, sorry to say.