Friday 12 June 2020

hahahahaha incommmming

My late lamented compañero Pepe Malpica was rightly proud that his last publication was accepted in the first issue of PLOS One. Pepe was good copy and great fun because he'd often have a different way of viewing the world. PLOS One was, and is, exciting because of its business model: "papers are not to be excluded on the basis of lack of perceived importance or adherence to a scientific field". Submissions are indeed peer-reviewed but only to check the methods section; context, relevance and scientific significance are excluded from the reviewers brief. Good thing too, because a couple of peers bring their own baggage and [limited, because not infinite] experience to the table and you would not want them (or me, or you) to be the sole arbiters of what gets out into the public domain. You have to allow mavericks like Pepe to break out of the box and frame scientific questions differently. Otherwise it's just a mighty - and mighty expensive - echo-chamber.

In that sense, PLOS One can be a little like the IgNobel Awards whose watch-word is "first they make you laugh, then they make you think". Of course, for most people, most papers, most of the time are just zzzzzzzzzzzzz. And that's one of the most wonderful aspects of the electronic world we live in: nobody needs to take the whole journal to read the one paper a month that is of interest. That saves a lot of dusty paper.  "zzzzzzzzzzz" is on message because now we're looking at Hahahahaha, Duuuuude, Yeeessss!: A two-parameter characterization of stretchable words and the dynamics of mistypings and misspellings a recent paper in PLOS One. Because PLOS is the Public Library of Science y'all can read the whole thing without having to mortgage your firstborn for the subscription price. If you can read the whole thing without the Furrowed Brow of Bafflement then you're a brighter star than me. But the paper is useful because it focuses [my] attention on repeated elements.
  1. Romanian soccer commentator Ille Dobre has the longest recorded single breath call of goooaaalll! When the pubs re-open be sure to impress your pals with that fact with or without a hat-tip to The Blob. And for the love of god without an attempt to emulate this feat - that way apoplexy beckons.If you need help being a bloke-in-a-pub, then Moss has you covered with Bluffball.
  2. One of the advantages of having a thick-as-pig-dribble phone like my so so retro  Nokia 3310  is that each letter takes ~2 keystrokes on average, so it damps the temptation to writing incommmming rather than merely incommming. The other huge benefit is that its sad-sack text-only processor acts as a really effective emoticon filter - text me your 👱😜👿🙈 nonsense and it comes in as □□□□. Often this is the sole content of the incommming txt. But emojis, as well as being fashion accessories, are phatic comms [metaphorical hugs and mutual de-lousing] rather than data-comms [actual information].
  3. Back in the day when it was either quill pens or typewriters [remember them?], you had a choice of upper case CAPITALS or lower case, all fixed width fonts so i occupied the same space as w. You will have noticed that The Blob is quite pedantic about putting species names Orycteropus afer in italics. Because that is how it is done. But in typewriter days no italics so, by convention, underlining was used to represent italics. I have seen folks trying to use another form of emphasis by backspacing and retyping the relevant word a tuthree times to make it bold. We haven't got there yet but there's great scope for incorporating colour into manuscripts to add meta-meaning to the text. 
    • Kelly green "#4CBB17" will do for Irish references
    • Orange "#FFA500" for marmalade excursions or fried fish
    • Dull red "#990000" for fury
    • Cambridge "#3d85c6" vs Oxford"#002147" if you're British
    • There's a war on about what best represents the Democrats this "#3333FF" or that " #00A6EF" 
    • and Republicans are divided been electric #DE0100 or plain #E9141D red
    • But then again maybe this train has left the station with Emojis
  4. Apart from being longer and consuming more electrons on the server, is there any downside to having hahaha or hahahaha? Nope! But there is a definite downside to having CAGCAGCAGCAG rather than CAGCAGCAG in your genome. This CAG-repeat is a stutter in one of our standard genes, called huntintin or HTT.  CAG codes for the amino acid Glutamine and you and I probably have a different length of this repeated motif in that gene: the normal range being from 6 to 35 copies. Some families have accumulated a much longer CAGn tract. The longer the repeated unit, the earlier and the more severe will be the onset of Huntington's Disease. HD is what killed Woody Guthrie. I can see I'll have to write longer and deeper about these trinucleotide repeat disorders of which HD is but one.
Actually (revenons nous a nos moooooutons), you might skip all the math and jargon in that PLOS One paper the conclusions are discursive and interesting.

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