Monday, 3 October 2011

By on October 3rd, 2011 in government, politics, writing

10:25 – The first weekday of what may be Black October. Or, perhaps more fittingly, Red October.

Greece is near collapse. Not just the economy; the country itself. Greece did not meet the requirements of the troika, so if the troika auditors follow their own rules they will recommend against releasing the final tranche of the 2010 bailout. Most people, including me, think they’ll ignore their own rules and release the final tranche just to stave off collapse for a few (or a couple) more weeks. If it were up to the EU and the ECB, that tranche would be released, period. But the IMF also has a vote, and it’s possible the IMF will stick to the rules. If so, Greece will default within days; if not, it may be a few more weeks. But it’s as certain as can be that Greece will default by the end of this year.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned rumors that Germany was already printing Deutsche Marks, and I’ve since heard the same rumor from several independent sources. It’s hard to keep something like that quiet. The current rumors say that Germany has placed a rush order with the printers, presumably to make sure it has new notes available when Greece defaults. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Germany will leave the euro, at least not immediately. This may be simply a contingency plan. But, contingency plan or not, I expect to see Germany re-introduce the DM sometime within the next few months, if not weeks. I don’t think there’ll be much choice.

I’m still working hard on the biology lab book. I have a couple of dozen lab sessions complete, other than images, with many more in progress. I’m getting more worried about sticking to my page count budget, but at this point I’m just continuing to add new lab sessions, and sometimes expand existing ones. By the time we get to 100% completion (scheduled for 31 December), I’ll probably have more lab sessions than we have room for in the book. If so, I’ll probably self-publish them as a supplemental set.

I also need to run or re-run some lab sessions to verify things. For example, yesterday I finished writing the lab session on extracting, isolating, and visualizing DNA. I’ve done that lab many times before, but always using 95% ethanol or 99% isopropanol. So the lab session is currently written using 95% ethanol, but I want to see how (and if) it works using 70% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, both of which are cheaper and easier to find than the 95%/99% varieties. The potential problem is that DNA is relatively soluble in water, but extremely insoluble in pure ethanol or isopropanol. During the isolation phase, one gently pours alcohol into the test tube that contains the aqueous DNA solution. That alcohol forms a layer on top of the aqueous layer, and DNA precipitates out at the boundary layer. If the alcohol contains significant water, I’m not sure how well that precipitation and the subsequent spooling of the DNA goop will work.

I could just specify 95% ethanol or 99% isopropanol, but I want to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for readers to do the labs. So I’ll spend some time checking.

8 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 3 October 2011"

  1. Ray Thompson says:

    Mr. Grigg: Your Kindle has arrived. I opened the box from Amazon to make sure it was OK but I did not open the internal packaging. I don’t have your snail mail address here at work and will have to get it from home this evening. I will then send your Kindle to you tomorrow via USPS.

  2. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I have had some people try to tell me that the Tea Party was/is opposed to raising the debt ceiling back when that was the immediate issue, and is a force for stopping spending.

    Ha, ha, ha. Here’s a breakdown on how all the elements voted.

    Over half of the 40 Tea Party voted to increase the debt ceiling. That is quite some stand against it.

  3. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Hmm. Talk about Firefox driving users to Chrome, looks like M$ will be doing the same with Windows 8 when they implement a “secure boot” feature that will block other OS’es on the same machine.

    It seems unclear whether it will also block all communication with other machines on a network using other OS’es, but that would really be suicide, no?

    Just the thought that they want to do this makes me want to speed up my switch to Linux.

  4. Don Armstrong says:

    “Justice has been done. Probably.”

    To a point. It’s still unclear whether the other person the Eyties (sort of like nips, if we’re commenting on the whether) have convicted of the crime was actually guilty, if so was he the only one, and we’d sort of like for the victim were she aware, and her family, to have had the possibility of confidence in the verdict.

    Robert, comments (possibly supplementary on-line rather than on-paper) about reliance on poor technique, contaminated DNA, unduly dilute DNA; and from the USA the case of swabs not meant for DNA testing, contaminated in bulk by the same DNA, and giving many matches that had nothing to do with the evidence; might fit with your current subject.

    Also, for your forensics, and referring back to the Chamberlain case again, tests which set out only to prove an assumption, and assumed a result from (IIRC) antifreeze where a heater hose had dumped in the footwell of a car was proof that Azaria had been butchered there and the result was from infantile (remnant foetal) blood.

    There does seem to be all too much reliance on false authority and plain black magic these days, and educating the public to a proper degree of scepticism would be a good thing.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    There does seem to be all too much reliance on false authority and plain black magic these days, and educating the public to a proper degree of scepticism would be a good thing.

    Yeah, I spend a lot of time and effort trying to do just that, but it’s an uphill struggle. People seem to have a built-in desire to believe impossible things without evidence, and even in the face of convincing evidence otherwise, whether it’s in religion or UFOs or politicians’ promises. People desperately want happy endings, and it’s hard for them to admit to themselves that the universe doesn’t care what they want.

  6. brad says:

    We’ll have to wait and see on the Win-8 secure boot feature. This is actually just a new, snazzy feature of the BIOS-replacement (UEFI), and Microsoft plans to make use of it.

    Computer manufacturers should provide keys, so that you can add other operating systems to the secure-boot feature – or at a minimum, choose to boot other operating systems without use of the secure-boot feature.

    If they do not – if the systems come totally locked down, and without the keys – then we have a problem…

  7. Dave B. says:

    If they do not – if the systems come totally locked down, and without the keys – then we have a problem…

    If the systems are locked that completely, wouldn’t it preclude installing an earlier version of Windows as well?

Comments are closed.